|Macie Blessing and Linnie Looney|
|Misty Balas interviewed her grandmother, Mrs. Macie Blessing, and Mrs. Linnie Looney on October 26, 1997.
Misty: Were you born in Bland County?
Granny: (laughing) Yeah, here in Bland County. Never hardly ever get out of the cracks.
Misty: Mrs. Looney, who was your mother and father?
Linnie: My mother was Ollie Yost and my father was Emmett Kidd.
Misty: Granny, who was your mother and father?
Granny: My mother was Cynthia Wynn and daddy was Samuel Sidney Kidd. Our dad's were brothers.
Misty: So that makes you cousins?
Misty: Oh, really.
Granny: It makes us kin doesn't?
Linnie: First cousins.
Misty: Where were you raised?
Linnie: Down near where Willis and Maxine Dye lives.
Misty: Granny, where were you raised?
Misty: Where were you raised?
Granny: Where did I go to school?
Misty: Where were you raised at?
Granny: Right down there where she was across the creek from the school house.
Misty: What did your family do for a living?
Misty: Did your parents farm too, granny?
Misty: Did your parents farm?
Granny: What did she say?
Linnie: Farm? She asked if your parents farmed for a living?
Granny: Yes, they farmed for a living.
|Misty: What kind of farming did you do? Did you have cows or?
Linnie: We had cows, sheep, chickens, hogs, and then they worked some in timber and selling, you would not know what it was now, they sold tan bark off of trees. Took it to a tannery and then they would cut the trees and sell them.
Misty: What was that for?
|Linnie: It was to tan leather. The tan bark, they took it to the tannery where they tanned leather to make shoes.
Misty: What was your father like?
Linnie: He was a hard working man, and the father of twelve children.
Misty: Wow, that is a lot.
Granny: Three girls, and the rest were boys.
Linnie: Three daughters and nine boys.
Misty: My goodness. How about your mother, what was she like?
Linnie: She was a very sweet woman, kind, hardworking, peaceful.
Misty: Granny, what was your father like?
Granny: Where did he work at?
Linnie: What was he like? He was a happy person wasn't he?
Granny: Healthy? Yes, he was a happy person.
Misty: How about your mother?
Granny: She was happy too, until she got down puny.
Misty: She got sick?
Granny: Uh, huh.
Misty: How about your grandparents?
Granny: Oh Lord, they died before I could tell of them.
Linnie: No, not Grandma Ollie.
Granny: Oh, I was thinking of mommy's side. I don't know nothing about Grandpa Kidd, but Grandma was a hard working old lady. I can remember her carrying a crock of milk on her hip without spilling it.
Linnie: She would go out there and get her cream and churn it, and the hog following right behind her.
Granny: Yeah, not bothering her one bit.
Misty: Do you remember your grandparents?
Linnie: I remember my grandmother, I can't remember my granddaddy, he died when I was about three year old.
Misty: What were there names?
Linnie: Ray and Lottie.
Misty: Do you know where they were born?
Linnie: I guess here in the valley.
Granny: Yeah, right here in the valley.
Misty: They farmed too?
Misty: Do you remember what they were like?
Linnie: Oh, yeah, I remember my grandmother. She was a very independent person.
Granny: Yes, she was. She wasn't the least little old thing.
Berries and Snakes
Linnie: She didn't want anyone to help her if she could do it herself. If she could do it herself she was going to do it. I would go with her to pick berries. She would crawl on her knees and pick blueberries, and I went with her to the mountain one time to pick huckleberries, which I don't know if you know what they are or not, they are the next thing to blueberries, and growed wild out on the mountain on bushes. We were picking along there and she said get out of here there are two great big yellow snakes, and I know they were rattlesnakes.
Linnie: I came out of there, mommy would always send me with her, you know to pick berries, and I would go with her to her garden and pull weeds out of her garden, and she read her Bible a lot, I loved to go there on Sunday even, she kept here Bible laying right beside of her, and she would tell us of the kings and the ones that were good kings in the Bible, and the mean ones, and I just loved to hear her tell the Bible stories.
Misty: So you went to church?
Linnie: Yes, when they had church. They didn't have it all the time, did they Macie?
Granny: No, it was once the month or what?
Linnie: Once the month, and we just did not have church, and they came in here, Henry Pete came, and it was a little house down beside the road along where Annette lives on the other side of the road there, and Uncle Sid, her daddy, they had Sunday School, and we would have little song books, and we would go and they would give us our little song books. Don't you wish we would have kept them?
Granny: Yes, I do. Why didn't we?
Linnie: And we would sing, her dad loved to sing, and we went to church when they had church, but a lot of times they didn't have church.
Misty: Where was this church at?
Linnie: It was down there, you know where Annette lives, Annette Kidd.. Up on the other side of the road. Helen and Sally lived there a while and Ivory was born there. Ivory was just a little bitty girl, and they lived in there a while. Didn't they?
Misty: Who were your brothers and sisters?
Granny: How many or who?
Granny: Well I had two brothers and three sisters. One dead. She died when she was a baby.
|Linnie: Bertha wasn't it.
Granny: Uh-huh. My brothers lived until way back I don't know when they died.
Misty: What did your little sister die of?
Granny: Mama said she would always hate it as long as she lived , she let the little thing eat a lot of black-heart cherries, and thats what she thought started it.
|Linnie: Just like they have diarrhea now, and she passed blood.
Granny: Could not get it checked on. There wasn't know doctors for things like that.
Misty: Do you remember your sisters and brothers names?
Granny: My oldest brother was Adam Herbert Kidd, Marvin Kelly Kidd, and my sisters were Lena Ollie Kidd, Clara Dell, and the baby that died was Bertha Charlotte, or what?
Linnie: I don't know. Bertha was all that I knew.
Misty: How about your brothers and sisters?
Linnie: Do you want me to give them out in rotation? The oldest one was Minnie who married a Carter, Mammie, she married a Burress, my oldest brother was Melvin, next was Frank, then me, and Thurman, Houston, Roy, Otis, Heman, Simon, and Ralph. Ralph I guess is in Africa right now, went there on a mission trip.
Misty: Does he live there?
Linnie: No, he just went there last week. He went there to build a church.
Kids Have Fun
Misty: Wow. When you were a kid what did you do for fun?
Linnie: We got up and played horseshoes, go fishing, and Macie would catch fish from our under a rock. Ha, Ha.
Granny: There was usually two there one to help, you know, in case you get a right big one. One time I said, Help, Help, I got a great big one here, and I got a hold of it with both hands, and got it up about that far and it was a great big old water snake.
Linnie: I wouldn't put my hands under the rock.
Granny: I would put my hands under it now.
Linnie: We would climb apple trees, and get along the road, we didn't get bored did we?
Linnie: People would walk along the road and pick chinquipins.
Granny: Put a plank through the fence and ride the horse.
Linnie: We played ball, we threw it over the house, called it handy over, and we just had fun.
Granny: There were a lot of games we use to play.
Misty: So you two saw each other a lot.
Linnie: Yeah. We would meet at Grandma and Aunt Dump's house. Aunt Dump stayed with my Grandma alot. We would meet there and play. We would dress up in there clothes.
Misty: Did you have any toys or would you just..
Linnie: We didn't know what toys were. Did we?
Granny: There weren't anyone to tell of them.
Linnie: Frank would makes us little old toys, he would make us things out of cornstalks. Little chairs and things like that.
Granny: We had a pretty good time even though we didn't have much.
Linnie: I had to take care of my little brothers till I didn't have time for toys.
Granny: You ought to read the book she wrote about it.
Misty: She wrote a book?
Granny: You still got it?
Granny: I read it. She was wore out with so many little babies that she loved them better then anything, but she looked into that blue eyed baby and wondered how she could tend to him.
Linnie: That was Ralph. It was hard for me to love him, but when he looked up with his little blue eyes. I would tell him about that and he would laugh about it yet.
Granny: Does he come up here hardly?
Linnie: Not too often.
Misty: What were your chores around the house?
Linnie: We would get up, fed chickens, fed turkeys, and churn butter, milk cows, wash dishes, wash clothes, scrub them on the board, we didn't have any electricity, everything was done by hand. Go to the garden, work in the garden, dry apples, pick them up outside.
Granny: I think things are better now, don't you?
Linnie: Yeah, we had pretty hard work, but everybody didn't have no time for meanness, did they?
Granny: No, no meanness, no.
Misty: Were your chores the same Granny?
Granny: Just put us down the same. My dad raised us like Uncle Henry raised them.
Linnie: You know we would all get up, eat breakfast together, we didn't get up one at a time. They would cook our breakfast and have it on the table. We all knew to get up and eat breakfast together. So when we got our breakfast over, each one knew what there chore was to do. They would get out and milk the cows by hand, four or five cows, we had what they called a spring house, and the water would run through it. And you can strain your milk and put it in there to keep it cold and churn your butter, it was almost like getting it out of the refrigerator, and we would grow chickens and they would sell the eggs, we would take the eggs to the store and buy groceries, and we didn't go hungry did we?
Granny: No. You made me think of something, about churning butter. I had four butter bowls, and had them printed so pretty to sell, and these two little girls came to milk every evening, and when I came back from where ever I was at there was holes gouged in all of them, and some of them had black streaks down them.
Linnie: I bet those were Clyde's weren't they.
Granny: Yeah. You know I got so mad, I didn't let them have their milk when they came after them because I had got to giving them milk.
Linnie: They knew better than that, didn't they.
Granny: Maurice is what got me mad when she came over, she said "What did you do with the ones that wasn't gouged up?" I said I sold them, sold ugly butter. Poor old thing.
Misty: What was your house like?
Granny: Well, born in a log house, down yonder on Otha's place, then from there on I guess we lived where I was married.
Linnie: One burnt down.
Granny: Yeah, it burnt down, and about a month's time, about the time when Lena was married, built one at Hubble's, you might remember a piece of it.
Linnie: The house is still standing over there.
Misty: Your house burnt down, Granny?
Granny: Yeah, it burnt down.
Granny: They built one back real quickly.
Linnie: What did cause your house to burn down?
Granny: They was a wallpapering.
Linnie: Yeah, that was what I was remembering.
Granny: Wallpapering, and the wall paper caught afire. They was busy in the other room and didn't see it right quick.
Misty: Oh goodness, that was awful.
Granny: It burnt up a lot we had, and we had to move into a little house close to where Everett use to live.
Linnie: Yeah, they called it the Catron House, didn't they?
Granny: Yeah, we carried our food from over home across to the new place we were staying. Poor old Macie had to walk up the hill so bad that she didn't know what to do, my mom use to say Everett has to carry his own little tail up the hill. They really made him step.(laughing)
Linnie: She remembers thing about like I do.
Colder than Blue Blazes
Misty: How was your house heated? Did it have a wood stove?
Granny: Wood I guess, I know ours was wood. Was yours wood?
Linnie: We had a fireplace, a big old wood fireplace, I told Thurman, we talk about things like that, I said Thurman, what use to keep us from freezing to death? He said we did just about, but we didn't know anything about it.
Granny: (laughing) We didn't know we was that bad off.
Linnie: Yeah, we didn't know anything.
Granny: We use to make quilts to make us warm.
Misty: What was your house like?
Linnie: It was an old house and didn't have too much room with all of us, but mama always made a way some how, people would come, and they would take people in and Dr. Hicks, had been over here, I believe it was when Dorothy Looney was born, they lived way down there across the creek, over there at Erby's house, and it was cold and it sleeted and he came down, and hollered dad out, and wanted to know if he could put him and his horse up overnight, and that old slicker he had was froze, and when he pulled it off it was just froze to the floor, and they put him to bed with all of us children there, I don't know how, and mama got up the next morning and fixed his breakfast and he thanked them for getting to stay. I can just see his old white head, he lived over on Clearfork.
Granny: Who was it?
Linnie: Dr. Hicks, you remember him don't you?
Granny: He delivered the babies I guess, didn't he?
Linnie: It was when Dorothy and Stacy was born. Dorothy Looney, in February.
Misty: What did you cook your food on?
Linnie: We had a little stove, just a little, flat-top cook stove.
Granny: Made like a vanity dresser.
Linnie: Just a little flat-top, and mama would cook a lot. They had this little thing you could hang up in the chimney, and hang it up in the fireplace. You could cook beans, couldn't you?
Granny: Yeah, but I never had one of them.
Linnie: Mommy would cook rutabagas, she would get them, we buried them you know, and raise them in the garden, and bring them in for winter, and they would dig down in that hole and get them out and cook them, yeah, she would hang them over the fireplace, and cook them. She had one of these here things you could cook cornbread, they called it a baker.
Granny: Yeah, I remember the bakers.
Linnie: They would put those down, and put fire coals under them, see the fireplace had a great old big rock, they called it a hearth, and you could rake them fire coals under there, and they would have a lid on top, just like an iron lid, and you would put coals on top of them. The cornbread smelled so good in that baker. Yeah, they baked, they called it the baker.But, we had a little old stove, and they finally got another range stove, sort of like a home comfort.
Granny: We didn't know we were poor did we?
Linnie: No. (Laughing) People would come, you didn't know when company was coming over neither, did you?
Granny: No, or how many either.
Linnie: They would just come and you would cook for them, and people enjoyed it. Don't you remember when we did have church, there would be whole gangs going home with you, wouldn't it?
Granny: Yeah, lots of people would go home with me and Bob, they would come in right at eating time. I would always feed them.
Linnie: I got a letter from Zora the other day, she is ninety, and she can write just as good and keep her lines straight without even a line on the paper. Have you learned anything?
Misty: Yeah, I have learned a lot. Did you have a garden?
Linnie: Yeah, we had gardens, big gardens. We growed all kinds of good stuff. You know we didn't have bean beetles and things then. You could go in the cornfield, where they had corn, and plant rows of beans right in there with the corn, and then you would have all kinds of beans. We would grow them up and then shell them out to have dried beans through the winter, we didn't have to buy pintos or nothing like that. So see we were brought up hard, but we didn't go hungry.
Granny: We were happy, weren't we?
Linnie: Yeah, my dad would butcher four or five big hogs and have all of that meat to hang up.
Misty: Granny, did you have a garden?
Granny: Yes, mercy yes, we had a garden, and I helped dig in it.
Linnie: Grow great big heads of cabbage didn't you? Make kraut.
Granny: Yeah, we had a good time. Better than people now don't you believe?
Linnie: Yeah, I think we enjoyed ourselves better.
Misty: What was your favorite meal?
Granny: Well, I guess it was whatever they set out before me. That would be my favorite. That was all we got.
Misty: What was your favorite meal?
Linnie: I don't know, I guess it would be at lunchtime, yeah, that was always when we cooked our vegetables. We would have good garden vegetables. Another thing they raised was a patch of cane, we would make molasses, that was a good time, wasn't it?
Granny: Yeah, it was.
Linnie: People would come in and watch us make molasses.
Granny: Tons of people.
Linnie: Yeah, and they would watch us make apple butter. We would have kettles of apple butter, after kettles of apple butter, right after another, right outside.
Misty: Did you go to school?
Linnie: Uh-huh. Yes, I went to school. We just had seven months of school.
Granny: Yeah, and it was a long walk.
Linnie: I would walk down the road and Macie would come walking over from her house, and she said I may get sick. Hub came in from Bluefield, and had that old flu, the first time we ever had that flu, she got sick at school that day, and the next morning Frank and I both got up with it. It was bad.
Misty: How many miles did you have to walk to get to school?
Linnie: Well I walked from down Willis and Maxines Dye live, that was my home place there, and down below where Richard Beckner lives, up on the side of the road, Macie had to come across the creek, and walk.
Granny: Yeah, I walked a long way. So many days I could not go.
Misty: What did you study in school?
Linnie: We studied reading, writing, and arithmetic. English...
Granny: And a hickory stick (laughing)
Linnie: They would send these boys out for these old, great, big switches. To switch the people with. They would send the boys out to cut the hickory.
Granny: Yes sir.
Linnie: They would stand them in the corner.
Granny: There was also a bucket of water and a dipper, and a bunch of switches.
Linnie: We all drank out of the same dipper.
Granny: We never caught anything.
Linnie: I liked spelling in school. They would put me in spelling with great big old boys different from my grade. They would line us up to spell wouldn't they?
Linnie: Then if you, like if she missed a word, and I spelled it, I would turn her down, and go on up until you got a head mark.
Granny: I got the head mark one time in spelling.
Linnie: And I got the head mark, and so they gave this word mechanist, m-e-c-h-a-n-i-s-t, and they all missed it, everyone of them old big boys, great big old boys, and they missed it, and I turned them all down. They got mad at me. Amberst and Guy Stowers, and all of them said leave her alone, she is going to spell it , and I did, and they had the Bible School, you know, down there at Harriets and Jimmy, and all of them went, was down there near Marlene's house, yeah, at Marlene's house is, and they called it the Bible School, well they came up and they had a spelling bee together, and Parris said give out gnat, and he said n-a-t, nat, and I spelt it, and I was just a little girl, I will never forget that. G-N-A-T and he said Gnat.
Granny: It doesn't seem like there should be a G on it does it.
Linnie: No, it doesn't.
Misty: So spelling was your favorite subject wasn't it?
Linnie: Yeah, I like spelling. I like reading, I still like to read.
Granny: I can't read a word anymore.
Linnie: That is awful, if you could read it would pass the time, and it would be so much better.
Granny: I try so hard, but I just can't write. When I write down my grocery list, they read it back to make sure it is right.
Linnie: I am reading Billy Graham's book now. Great, old big thick book.
Granny: I think I may have read it way back yonder.
Linnie: No, this one just came out not too long ago, he did have a little book, but this one is an old, big thick book.
Misty: What was your favorite subject in school, Granny?
Linnie: What did you like best in school?
Granny: I don't know, eating I guess. (Laughing)
Misty: Well what did you pack for your lunch?
Granny and Linnie: Anything we could get or scratch up.
Linnie: We had biscuits, apple butter, sausage biscuits, now and then we would have a homemade cookie.
Granny: One of my grandsons asked what I took to school to eat. I said well, maybe four or five biscuits. He said, what did you have on them? I said, well one or two I had egg the other sausage. And don't you know the poor little thing went home and said that grandma had to eat five biscuits with nothing on them. ( laughing) She said she had an egg on one and a piece of meat on the other, but none on the rest.
Misty: Do either of you remember who your teachers were?
Granny: Grace Day was one, I was trying to think of the first one, she was Lady Stowers.
Linnie: Nobody liked her, did they?
Granny: I didn't know much about her.
Linnie: She lived till last summer, yeah I have her obituary. There was Lucy Akers, and Mel Davis. Fred Harmon. Mr. Fred. I believe that was about all.
Granny: I totally agree with all of those.
Misty: How did the teachers make the students behave?
Linnie: They had a hickory switch, if they didn't behave they would keep them in, and if they misbehaved too much they would switch them. And they would make them stand in the corner, wouldn't they?
Granny: Yeah, tell about Fox Christian, he was full of meanness, and the teacher would give a like with that big switch and he would leap and kick, and make a racquet like a mule. Kick again, they had fun.
Linnie: They had these boys, send them out to get the switches, and they would take their knife and ring them, and when they would hit them they would break.
Granny: I guess they would get a whipping for that.
Linnie: They whipped the girls as same as they did for the boys.
Granny: Yes, they would whip them.
Linnie: But I never did get one.
Granny: I never did either.
Misty: So you never got in trouble at school.
Linnie: No, no, I always thought Wynettea Christian acted a little sissified.
Granny: I was never around her.
Linnie: You was never around her?
Granny: She got out of school before I even started.
Linnie: Gavoston didn't like school, she didn't like school period.
Misty: How did you celebrate holidays at your house?
Linnie: It was almost like any other day, mama would bake a cake, and we would have a little bit of candy, wouldn't we.
Granny: Yeah, just a little bit.
Linnie: We didn't get toys.
Misty: Do you remember any funny pranks or tricks that were pulled at school or around your house or anything like that? Perhaps by your brothers?
Linnie: Pranks? No, we were good children. Weren't we?
Linnie: We always listened to daddy and mommy because they would switch us. I do remember one time though, at Halloween, Melvin and Frank, my older brothers were at Uncle Bud's house, at mommy and daddy were inside, and all of us children were around back playing, and Melvin and Frank stayed around front with their friends. No one thought anything of it, but you know what they did. They took the tires off Uncle Bud's wagon and threw them on top of the outhouse, and in the bushes, they broke one, and hid the other one. Well the next morning Uncle Bud was going to go to hear a preacher down in Tazewell, and he got out to his wagon, and all of the wheels were gone, he was so mad he didn't hear that preacher.
Misty: Did your brothers get in trouble?
Linnie: I can't remember, but I imagine they did.
Misty: Do you remember any other tricks that were pulled?
Linnie: No, on Halloween there would be a few problems at some houses. They would tear up things around then. Sometimes they would tear up fences. Can you remember be at Uncle Whittleys, the first radio, I can remember the first radio.
Granny: I was right there.
Linnie: Can you remember that?
Granny: We rode a buggy down there.
Linnie: The first radio we ever heard was right here over in the valley, they had it on Halloween night. They went out there and tore their outhouse down. They took a wheel off Uncle Whittley's buggy, he was fixin' to go across the mountain, he was going to a political speech. They took his buggy wheel off and threw it up on a building, and I don't know what all they did.
Misty: That was sort of mean.
Granny: Was it Halloween?
Linnie: Ellie Stowers was there and she knew them boys were outside, her boys were in to it too, and Frank was into it too, but they heard the commotion and they got up, and she said she believed it was this old dog, they thought it was Hallelujah night.
Granny: He didn't say Halloween, he said Hallelujah. (Laughing)
Linnie: Jimmy was there, that was right before we started going together. Him and Linkous came up there.
Granny: Well, Hallelujah night. Um, him and Bobbie Wolfe came in horse and buggy and took me and Ivory down there. I rode back, that was the first car I ever rode. That was when we visited the first radio.
Misty: How did teenagers court when you were young?
Linnie: Well we would go to church or stay home, we wouldn't go run around.
Misty: So you didn't go on buggy rides or anything?
Linnie: No we didn't have cars, we walked. My husband lived down there where Paul Looney lives at, and he would walk up to where I lived, then we walk to church at night, then he would walk me back up there, and then he would walk home, now wasn't that a long walk? Sometimes he would walk up and stay all night with the Parris's and walk across the mountain, he worked over there in Gulf Creek, he would walk across and go over there.
Misty: So you never went to the movies or go to town?
Linnie: No, oh, no. We didn't know what a movie was.
Granny: There wasn't no movies for us.
Linnie: We didn't have no TV, I still remember the first car that came up Wolfe Creek, and my brothers owned the first new car up Wolfe Creek. Melvin and Frank bought a bright red new little Ford for $600. That was new, $600.
Granny: I want to tell you a right funny one. Poor Ms. Levite, we went to see her one morning, and she said to me, "Gosh, the devil went up the road last night."
Linnie: See, they were living up at the old Levite place, said that the old devil is coming, I saw it spitting fire.
Granny: I bet she was scared to death.
Misty: How did you meet your husband?
Linnie: Well he lived down here in the valley, we were down at the Methodist church , he told me not long before he died, not long before he had his stroke Macie, that he said at the church, there was his wife. I didn't know that then.
Misty: How did you meet your husband?
Granny: We were raised together, the first time I remember him he was crying. They had brought up their buggy and a horse, and the horses were in the lot where the mules was and where the calves where and he was a crying thinking they were going to kill the calves. I tried to comfort him and tell him they weren't going to hurt the calves.
Misty: How old were you?
Granny: I would have been about three or four years old. Our daddies were dead and our mothers would meet up to pass the Sunday's by. He was sitting there crying because of our calves.
Misty: Where were you married?
Granny: Over there at Bland Courthouse. One time, when Johnny was about that high, we were in the room and a bunch of girls were there, and one said, "Macie, where were you married at? and I started to say Bland Courthouse and he said, "They weren't married there, that's where they take me to pin me up. What he remembered was when we had went over there and bought the land, and he stood right outside while we signed our names and he said, "Yeah, that is where they were married. All of them in the house knew, they were my friends.
Misty: Where were you married?
Linnie: In Rocky Gap, at the parsonage down were the preacher lived. We went to Bland to get our license, and her mother-in-law and Ollie Hull was with us, neither one of them was married.
Misty: Did you go on a honey moon?
Linnie: (laughing) Oh, no.
Granny: If you consider hard work a honey moon we did.
Linnie: You see, the way we done it. My mother and father fixed us a big dinner and we went down to his home the next day had a great big meal, and we celebrated then. And we went around and visited the brothers and sisters then. That was the only honeymoon we had.
Granny: I went with Bob to carry the mail, that was the only honeymoon we had.
Misty: Oh he carried the mail?
Granny: We came back and Ollie was hoeing corn, and I was out with her. We were married on Saturday and on Monday I was working.
Misty: So your husband was a mailman.
Linnie: Mine was too.
Granny: It was the only type of work they could get around here.
Linnie: Did Bob work out in the mountain? I thought he did.
Granny: I don't think so.
Linnie: No, maybe he didn't.
Misty: What was your husband's name?
Linnie: James, they called him Jimmy. I dreamed last night that I saw him, and we had sheep, and he brought them down and we fed them.
Granny: I dreamed about Ms. Looney last night. There's not many of us left. Me, you, Flora Lee. I thought she wanted me to be interviewed with her, we would have never got that interview done.
Linnie: She gets mixed up sometimes.
Misty: What was your husband's name?
Granny: Robert Clay.
Misty: How many kids did you have?
Granny: Two, Johnny and Gerald, I think you might know them.
Misty: I think I do.
Granny: You might be kin.
Misty: Yeah, I think so. Where were they born?
Granny: (laughing) Same old place. Right down there at the house.
Misty: Did you have any children?
Linnie: I had three. A son and two daughters.
Misty: What were there names?
Linnie: Ervin, Bessie, and Barbara.
Misty: Where were they born?
Linnie: We lived down there in the field, in a little house down there.
Misty: Do you think it was easier to raise kids back then or now?
Linnie: Back then, much easier.
Linnie: They were born at the house, the doctor came and delivered them for fifteen dollars. Now it is two or three thousand dollars.
Misty: Do either one of you remember what Rocky Gap was like?
Linnie: Yeah, I had a sister who lived down, it has built up a lot. They had a larger school, but I guess things are about the same.
Misty: So it was similar?
Misty: Were there any businesses there?
Linnie: There was some stores, and I don't think they had the bank there when I was growing
Granny: Where was the school house in Bastian first at?
Linnie: I don't know.
Granny: It was right before where the school house is at now, I saw a place cleared off, I imagine that was where it was at.
Misty: Was there anything to do for fun in Rocky Gap or was it sort of like this?
Linnie: No, it was like this. Everyone went to Bluefield to have fun.
Misty: What was the weather like back then?
Linnie: I believe the winters were colder back then, there was more snow, other than that it was about the same.
Misty: Do you remember any bad storms or floods?
Linnie: I remember this one flash flood, over at Flora Lee's, it came nearly to washing it out. They had to fix it. Jimmy was carrying the mail then. He had to have a car parked on the other side, and he would have the car and walk to the other side. That was the worst. Then remember that one time when we had all of that ice here. It was 1918 and we had a real cold winter here and the creek froze over, and we could walk anywhere we wanted to go. I believe it was February when we thawed out, and great big old chunks of ice floated everywhere.
Granny: Ice was piled up everywhere.
Misty: That is bad. How did your family celebrate Christmas?
Linnie: It was just a day. Mom would cook up a dinner. And they would get out and have shooting matches, and see who would win. They would put things up to shoot at. I mean it was like they would shoot anything.
Misty: Is that how you celebrated Christmas, Granny?
Granny: Yeah, the same way. Anything that went for her, I would follow right behind.
Misty: Did you have a tree or Christmas presents.
Granny: Sometimes we would put up our stockings.
Linnie: Sometimes there was a school program we would go to.
Granny: I remember mama telling me about that. I remember making taffy out of can molasses. We would twist it backwards and put a quarter on it, then snap it. Funny idea wasn't it.
Linnie: Have you ever made taffy? You pull the molasses and pull the molasses. I wouldn't waste molasses to make it now, would you? It cost so much. Yeah, I know how to make it.
Granny: All you do is boil it down real thin.
Linnie: Put flour on your hands, and pull it and work it, and twist it a little bit. You know, twist it around.
Granny: Twist it like a piece of tobacco. With a dime or a quarter. That was sometimes all we got for Christmas.
Misty: What about Halloween? Did you trick-or-treat?
Linnie: No, we didn't know anything about Halloween. We told you about the first radio.
Misty: Yes. When did you first hear about Halloween and trick-or- treating?
Granny: I don't know.
Linnie: I imagine about thirty year ago they started trick-or-treating.
Granny: Not to many go now. Do you get many?
Linnie: Some, not like we use to.
Misty: Did you ever celebrate Easter or Valentines Day?
Granny: Not much.
Linnie: Easter we would celebrate.
Granny: We would make our valentines, on paper with crayons.
Linnie: We would color them. I believe I have one that Barbara made for me, I can't remember if it was for Valentines day or mothers day. It had a verse printed on it.
Misty: Did you celebrate any other holiday? Labor Day? Fourth of July?
Linnie: Fourth of July we were working in the fields.
Granny: We didn't know it was July did we?
A Dark and Stormy Night
Linnie: I celebrated one time keeping your mother up here in a snowstorm, now that was something. Harriet was working out in Graton, or Tazewell and they would drop her off here, and the snow got so bad that she could not come across the mountain to get her, and they could not get up here to get her so I kept her on one of the stormiest nights that I could ever remember. And Jimmy wasn't here, he went with Ray Carter to deliver produce down in West Virginia for the Blessing Brothers, and I was here with her, and I had Elmer Williams I kept him that winter. She slept with me in that bedroom, I guess she would have been eight months old, and I got up, and the electricity was out too, that made it worse, and I had her bottle fixed and I had a coal stove, and I made a fire in it, and I got a bucket of water and put her bottle down in it to keep it warm, and I warmed it and fed her, and she would just reach up and pat my face. Next morning when I got up and fixed breakfast why she rolled out of bed and she hit the floor, and I said Elmer, she had a little crib her with little rollers, I said I am going to put her up in this and you play with her and keep her occupied, and I got the food. And Elmer he really didn't put no mind to her, and she played, and I fed her, and I kept her that night, and the next night, and the next day, I was about to run out of milk, but I had cow's milk, I had plenty of cow's milk, and I said if I run out I will give it to her, I don't believe it would harm her, and I had baby food. Jimmy, he got in, he was gone two nights, and he got in he next night, and he would sing with her and she would wave her little hand.
Granny: She would keep time.
Linnie: Yeah, he sang "Twilight a Stealin', and she would wave her hand. And Bob came after her, her Granddad, but she wouldn't go with him, and he said come with grandad, and she shook her head no. Bob said, "Come on, I got you some candy. He had a bar of candy. She shook her head no, she didn't want to go.
Granny: She didn't want to go, did she?
Linnie: That was a stormy night. It blowed. You talk about a storm. It blowed a tree over down there in the field.
Misty: What year was that?
Linnie: 1960. It would have been 1960.
Misty: Who was the first president you remember?
Linnie: I can't answer.
Misty: Granny, who is the first president you remember?
Linnie: I couldn't remember.
Granny: I can't either.
Linnie: We had Harding. No, I can't remember the first president we had, once I got big enough to know.
Misty: Do you remember any movie stars?
Misty: Did you ever go to a movie?
Linnie: I have never been to a movie at a theater. The only movies I ever saw was on t.v.
Misty: Granny, have you?
Granny: Me and my sister Claire went to my cousins in Bluefield, Bob took us, we were courting. I didn't know Claire was going to do that to me. She said you stay here with Bob, me and Herman and them are going to go somewhere. And don't you know they went off somewhere else and left me there by myself, me and Bob sitting there. I felt so out of place. In the moonlight, just me and him, the first time by ourselves. I thought I had done something awful.
Misty: How old were you?
Granny: Eighteen I guess, wasn't I.
Granny: So, I was telling Bob about it, and I said she (Claire) was scared to death about me. He said she thought we had gone off to get married. I said she knew better than that.
Bad Movies and Bad Dentists
Misty: Have you ever been to a movie?
Granny: Yeah, I didn't enjoy it.
Misty: You didn't enjoy it, why?
Granny: No, we went to a movie that night, and I said let's go, and when we got home she (Claire) wasn't there and things didn't get much better.
Linnie: Who was it?
Granny: Nanny went.
Misty: Why didn't you like the movie, Granny?
Granny: I thought I was doing something I ought not to. I was outside of my family, I was not use to that.
Misty: Do you remember the name of the movie?
Granny: Lord I don't know, I was to excited, scared or something. I begged him to go ten minutes after we got into the theater.
Linnie: I remember one time I went Bluefield, I had to go to the dentist. It was in November. And I remember the first hot dog I ate. My dad, he said let's so down to the restaurant and get us a hot dog. I have never ate a hot dog that I thought was as good as that one. That just taste better now.
Misty: How old were you when you ate that?
Linnie: I guess I would have been about fifteen.
Misty: How about the dentist, what was that like?
Linnie: I didn't get my tooth pulled that day, I believe he was gone, that one was gone. I went back to another one, Nelson, and he pulled all of my teeth. I got my false teeth there. Barbara was about two years old when I got my false teeth.
Misty: Granny, have you ever been to a dentist?
Granny: Yeah Buddy, I have been to the dentist. He about killed me, I have never had anything hurt so bad in my life. I had another dentist, and Bob said if I had another dentist like Dr. Wagner I would settle with him. He was sleazy and good for nothing.
Linnie: Some of my teeth were hard to pull, but he would only pull two at a time. Some didn't hurt a bit, and some were hard to pull. I have had these teeth that long, since 1930 to 1931.
Granny: Nothing was worse than a tooth ache.
Linnie: They hurt bad.
Misty: Granny, how much did it cost to go to the movies?
Granny: Lord, I don't know, I was to scared.
Linnie: Fifty cents I would imagine.
Granny: A quarter, fifty cents probably, I was so scared, I didn't care. I was away from my mommy.
Misty: Do either of you remember World War I?
Misty: What was it like?
Linnie: It was sad. There was one man from the valley that I know of.
Misty: Did anyone in your family go?
Linnie: Not to World War I, World War II I had Frank, Houston, Thurman, Otis, Ralph, I had five brothers who were there.
Misty: Did your family support the war?
Misty: Do you remember when you heard it was over with?
Linnie: Yes, I do. We saw our first airplane then. When they told us the war was about over I we saw our first airplane.
Misty: Did everyone celebrate around here or was it no big deal?
Linnie: No, no, no one celebrated. I know when that Beaver man came home everyone was pleased to see him. Mommy and daddy went to see him. He was weak. He had suffered.
Misty: What were the 1920's like?
Linnie: Well, there wasn't any cars then. And they carried the mail, and when they carried the mail they rode horses, didn't they, we only got the mail about once a week. Didn't we?
Granny: Wasn't it Wednesday, no it was Friday.
Linnie: They changed it to Friday later. If you got a newspaper, it would be a week old before you got it. I know my dad would get it and read it during the war.
Misty: Do you remember when women got to vote?
Linnie: Yeah, I remember that.
Misty: Did you get to vote?
Linnie: Not then, I wasn't old enough. The first person I voted for was President Eisenhower.
Misty: How about you Granny, did you vote.
Linnie: I don't think she ever did.
Granny: Did I ever vote? Why yes I voted. I voted until Bob died.
Linnie: I don't believe I have missed a time since except maybe once or twice, I don't know if I can get out this year.
Misty: Was your family Democrats or Republicans?
Misty: Granny, was your family Democrats or Republicans?
Granny: We were Republicans.
Linnie: The Blessings were strong Republicans, your daddy was too.
Misty: Do you remember the year the stock market crashed?
Linnie: Yeah, I remember it, but I don't what year it was in. That was when Herbert Hoover was president.
Misty: When the stock market crashed, did you think it was going to effect you?
Linnie: I didn't know enough about it then. When you are children then you didn't understand things, but it is taught in school now. It wasn't taught in school then. Like Macie always said, it was reading, writing, arithmetic, taught to the rhyme of the hickory stick.
Misty: What was it like in the Great Depression?
Linnie: Well it was hard in some ways, but we lived through it. It was the same in many ways everyone still growed their own food.
Granny: There was rationing.
Linnie: There was a lot of rationing because of the war. You had to buy stamps to buy shoes, sugar, gas, a lot of things, didn't you
Granny: There wasn't enough gas to get around.
Linnie: Some one asked why I didn't keep some of those stamps, I got to the point where I didn't want to keep them. You were only allowed enough stamps for one pair of shoes, if someone didn't trade with you, and you ran out, you were out to luck. You just couldn't buy shoes, or sugar. We had the best peaches here that we growed ourselves. We would set out the peach trees and have these great big yellow peaches. We didn't have any sugar. I canned them, but they wasn't any good. We were only allowed so much. I learned to bake a cake out of syrup, I wished I would have kept the recipe. We used white syrup to bake the cake, I don't know what I did with the recipe.
Misty: How did you feel about President Roosevelt and his New Deal?
Linnie: Well I think that there was something that started this more or less give away stuff and I think that they have kept it up. There are people on welfare who don't need to be there. I think that they should work. I think that they should be out working, if they are able, and support their babies. A lot of them go out and have more just to get more money. I think that "New Deal" started it, and has been going down, down, down since them.
Misty: Do you think that Roosevelt helped during hard times?
Linnie: They thought that he was helping during the time, but he has left the bad effects afterward.
Misty: Do you think any of his programs helped Bland County, like the CCC, or anything like that?
Linnie: Well I don't know, the CCC would give them a job. A lot of people would get jobs there.
Misty: Why did some people oppose FDR and some people supported him?
Linnie: Well I think the ones that supported him were the ones getting the most help.
Misty: Do you remember when FDR died?
Linnie: Yeah, but I don't remember the date.
Misty: Was everyone real upset, or did they just keep on going?
Linnie: Everyone just kept on going.
Misty: How did you react?
Linnie: Well I just knew that he died. He wasn't any different then anybody else.
Misty: How did you react to FDR's death?
Granny: I didn't know he was dead.
Linnie: He was just like everyone else.
Granny: Why yeah!
Misty: When did you get your first radio?
Granny: I guess it would have been 1935.
Misty: How about you, was it in 1935?
Linnie: Frank brought us our first radio. Bud was just a little bitty boy, he is 64 now. I guess it would have been about 60 years ago.
Misty: So about 1936. What was it like?
Linnie: It was a good radio, but you had to have two batteries for it. A wet battery and a dry battery, and when one of them went dead, why we was out of radio.
Misty: What were some of your favorite radio shows?
Linnie: Love and Abner. And Amos and Andy. Do you remember them? And Sarah and Sally. It was two old ladies talking, like she and I are talking, and they would tell old stories. They would whine and tell about old times. That was Sarah and Sally wasn't it.
Linnie: I think about this. Grandma Lot told me about these two old ladies talking about how small they were when they were born, and this one said that her head was so small they could fit her head into a teacup. The other asked if she lived, and she said they said I did and I did quite well.
Granny: (laughing) They are talking like she is dead.
Linnie: (laughing) Said I did and I did well.
Granny: You know I don't have a radio now or anything.
Linnie: Well the color went out of my t.v.
Misty: When did you first get electricity?
Linnie: I don't know the year.
Granny: All I know is that it was a happy year.
Misty: How did it effect your life?
Granny: It made me try to keep the house cleaner.
Linnie: It was about 44 years ago.
Misty: When did you get your telephone?
Linnie: We didn't get it till later, it was hard for them to get it up through here.
Granny: Did you trade companies later on?
Linnie: We didn't take the telephone when it first came in, then Bessie Carter's husband worked on it and got us one.
Misty: Did you have party lines?
Linnie: You could, we did at first.
Misty: When did you get your TV? Did you have one Granny?
Granny: Yes buddy I had a TV., I wouldn't do without it. I don't like them now.
Linnie: I like the t.v. There are a few programs I like, like the news, and such.
Misty: What were some of the shows that you use to watch?
Linnie: Marklins House Party use to be on, it isn't anymore. I use to watch the Price is Right, with Bob Barker, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, news, and weather. I loved Andy Griffith.
Misty: Do you remember when you heard about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor?
Linnie: It was December the 7th. It was a Sunday, I remember, I went to church that day.
Misty: How did you feel about it?
Linnie: I felt sad. I remember when Franklin read out the declaration of war. That was a Monday.
Misty: Did you feel the same way Granny?
Granny: I can barely remember it.
Misty: How did it effect life here?
Linnie: It was so very sad with so many from the valley gone, but don't you know everyone of them got back. Not one was killed. Arthur Burris was wounded, he use to live here in this house. He had three sons in there at the same time, but he was the one who got wounded, he was shot in the shoulder. He was the only one who got wounded.
Misty: Was that when all of the rationing went on?
Linnie: Yeah, we used the rationing stamps for sugar, shoes. We couldn't get gas at all.
Misty: Did everyone support the war?
Misty: Where were you when you heard that the Germans had surrendered?
Linnie: No, I can't answer that one.
Misty: How about you, do you remember where you were at when the Germans surrendered?
Granny: What was that? The German War? That was a bad one, wasn't it?
Linnie: Uh-huh. I guess we were at home when we heard. We had a radio then, we could listen to the news.
Misty: What was your reaction to when you heard that the atom bomb was dropped on the Japanese?
Linnie: That was bad.
Granny: You just can't tell how awful it was.
Misty: How did you feel about us bombing the Japanese?
Granny: Lord it was awful.
Misty: How did you feel about President Truman?
Linnie: I thought he was a pretty good president.
Misty: Were people real supportive of the Korean War?
Linnie: Oh, yeah.
Misty: Do you know anyone who fought in that war.
Linnie: Not, but in that other one, Vietnam, Kenneth Kidd fought in that one.
Misty: How did you feel about President Eisenhower?
Linnie: He was a wonderful person, and a wonderful President. I liked him a lot.
Misty: How did you feel about him, Granny?
Granny: I agree with her.
Misty: Were times good in 1950 here in Bland County?
Linnie: Yeah, they were. The price of cattle was up and people got good money for the work that they did. Of course there were so many people gone to war that they had to hire help where ever they could get it.
Misty: How did you and your family feel about President Johnson?
Linnie: I don't know I can't remember much about him.
Misty: Did anyone in your family fight in the Vietnam War?
Linnie: No not in my family. There were people in the area, but not in my family.
Misty: O.K. last question. Do you think it is easier to raise children back then or today.
Linnie and Granny: Back then definitely.
Linnie: Today there are so many problems with drugs, crimes, and sickness. We didn't have much of that back then, just a little. Back when we were growing up was the best time to have children and a life.
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