Fred and Estellia Saunders

Fred and Estella's 65th Anniversary

This interview was done in 1994 by Kacelia Williams, Fred and Estella's great granddaughter. Some of the interview could not be understood by the transcriber, because of Fred's low voice and poor placement of the microphone. This couple recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

Fred: ??????schoolhouse,???? wooden building up there???come in here?

Kacelia: Did you go to school down at that old schoolhouse?

Fred: Yes, I went to school there.

Kacelia: What was it like?

Fred: It was a log schoolhouse.

Kacelia: Did y'all have paper and pencils?

Fred: We had paper and pencils and a primer.

Kacelia: What's a "primer"?

Fred: It was a book to learn ABCs??

Kacelia: How far did you go in school? What grade did you go to in school?

Fred: I went to Fourth grade.

Kacelia: What about you Grandma, did you go to the old school?

Estellia: I went to the old school. My first day going to school, I rode a horse. It was a little pony like and my brother and I went to school together and I went to the Eighth grade. That was the highest you could go, to the Eighth grade. We had fun playing ball, riding sleds, and playing different things--just having real fun. It was fun, fun, fun.

Fred: We had to go to the mountains to carry the wood out to keep the fire.

Kacelia: Y'all had to keep a fire in the school?

Fred: Yeah, we had to go to the mountains to carry the wood out.

Kacelia: Did y'all graduate from the Eighth grade or did y'all just pass to the Eighth grade?

Estellia: I passed from the Seventh grade to the Eighth grade, that was the highest you could go.

Kacelia: Yeah, like today when we graduate from the Twelfth grade. Did y'all do that when y'all was in the Eighth grade?

Estellia: We didn't go to the Eighth grade, we passed from the Seventh to the Eighth and we were supposed to go somewhere else but we didn't go anywhere else for the Eighth grade.

Kacelia: Y'all just stayed---

Estellia: We finished and then we was thinking about getting married. That was all to do.

Kacelia: In the Eighth grade! How old was you in the Eighth grade?

Estellia: There wasn't nothing else to do, but just go and get married.

Fred: I was in the fourth grade when I got,

Kacelia: How old was you when you started school?

Estellia: I was about seven years old.

Kacelia: What about you Grandaddy, how old was you when you started school?

Fred: I was ten.

Kacelia: Ten? When you first started?

Fred: Yes. Ten years old.

Kacelia: Did y'all have any holidays or events that y'all decorated things for?

Estellia: We had Christmas

Fred: And Easter.

Estellia: And we had plays on Christmas. My brother used to play Santa Claus all the time. And he would bring presents around and put them under the tree for the children, he was Santa Claus most of the time. We had plays and everybody would come from far and near to our plays.

Kacelia: How far would they come to see the plays?

Estellia: Well, from Bluefield and other places.

Kacelia: Back then that was far away.

Estellia: Uh-huh that was a long ways.

Kacelia: Did y'all have anything like Easter or did y'all get out for holidays?

Estellia: Easter, we would have easter egg hunt. We would go up on the hill and roll the eggs down and then we would hide eggs and find eggs. So that was about all. We didn't do nothing--it was fun, whatever we did was fun.

Kacelia: Did y'all have any sports teams?

Estellia: Well, they played ball.

Kacelia: What kind of ball?

Estellia: Baseball, you know, just, wasn't no teams, girls and boys all played together.

Kacelia: Is many of your classmate still around now?

Estellia: Just one or two. Viola Ferguson and Evelyn Charlton. Marthy and Frieda, they were much younger than I.

Kacelia: What about Grandaddy?

Estellia: I don't remember him too well. He had probably done quit school when I started.


Estellia: I really don't remember him going to school.


Kacelia: So how did you all meet?

Estellia: How did we meet?

Kacelia: Un-huh.

Estellia: Well, that's a long story. We lived here in the same community and by passing, I met him thinking I never would marry him because he was much bigger than I was. He was much older and I thought he was too old for me. I don't know how he stole me. Somehow or another.

Kacelia: How long have y'all been married?

Estellia: We've been married 63 years. And I'm planning on trading him off.

Kacelia: How many kids do you all have?

Estellia: We have three kids.

Kacelia: Who are they?

Estellia: Pal Saunders, Delores Harris, and Christine McClanahan.


Kacelia: Tell me about your family history, Grandma Saunders.

Estellia: Well, my family history, I was born here in January 1915, and when I was about maybe a year old, my father moved to Bluefield, West Virginia.

Kacelia: Who is your father?

Estellia: My father is MacDaniel Ferguson and Kanelia Ferguson is my mother. And we moved to Bluefield around about, well I guess I was about two years old. And when we stayed in Bluefield until I was five years old. We moved back here.

Kacelia: Which is where, here?

Estellia: Dry Fork, Rocky Gap, Virginia. And I live here until today.

Kacelia: How old are you?

Estellia: I'm 80 years old. Going on 81.

Kacelia: Who all was your brothers and sisters?

Estellia: It was 11 of us. It was Roosevelt Ferguson, Andrew Ferguson, Woodrow Ferguson, Kermit Ferguson, Willie Ferguson(?Gameliah? Ferguson), and my sisters were Priscilla Ferguson, Brazil Ferguson, Elena Ferguson, and Virginia Ferguson.

Kacelia: That was a big crowd!

Estellia: Yes it was.

Kacelia: What kind of house did you live in? Was it big, small, a shack?

Estellia: It was not too big, not too small. It was around about five rooms and we were real happy in the little old house.

Kaceila: Five rooms and 11 of y'all?

Estellia: Yes, but everybody was happy. The boys, they slept in one room and the girls slept in another room.

Kacelia: How many was it to a bed?

Estellia: I'm thinking about my children, I'll back up. We had a 8 room house. My mother and father had a 8 room house. I forgot. I was thinking about my children.

Kacelia: How old was you when your mother died--when your mother and father died?

Estellia: My mother passed in 1941 and my father passed in 1959, I believe, if I'm not mistaken.

Kacelia: What caused their deaths?

Estellia: My father, I think he must have had a heart attack. He died in his sleep. My mother had sugar diabetes.

Kacelia: Grandaddy, what about you? Your family history?


Kacelia: How many brother and sisters did you have?

Fred: I had seven brothers and four sisters.

Kacelia: What was their names?

Fred: Eppy Saunders, Jim Saunders, ?L? Saunders, Abe Saunders, ?? Saunders, ?Carl? Saunders, Archie Saunders.

Kacelia: What about your sisters?

Fred: Octavia Tynes, Marthy, and Frieda??. That's it.

Kacelia: What kind of house did you all live in?

Fred: We lived in a little house.

Kacelia: How many rooms did you have?

Fred: It had about seven or eight rooms.??Had an upstairs and a down stairs.

Kacelia: Did your father build your house?

Fred: Yeah, he built it ??He built a log house.

Kacelia: Did y'all have bathrooms like we have now?

Fred: We had outdoor bathrooms.

Kacelia: When it was snowing outside y'all had to go outside?

Fred: Yes we had to go outside.????Had a gristmill, a sawmill to grind grain?????

Kacelia: Did you all have electricity?

Fred: No electricity. Used pine knots to light the????

Kacelia: What's pine knots?

Fred: Pine knots is like ????

Estellia: Oil lamps.


Kacelia: Did y'all have running water, or did y'all have to go get it?

Fred: No.

Kacelia: Y'all had to walk and get y'all's water?

Fred: Yes.????

Kacelia: How old were you when your mother and father died?

Fred: I was in the teens when my Daddy died. About 13 or 14. And then when my mother died, I was in my 30's.

Kacelia: What caused their deaths?

Fred: Daddy had appendicitis and Mommy had a heart condition.

Fred: You know if Daddy had a store?

Estellia: No, we had one.

Fred: Yeah, we had a store.

Estellia: I can't remember what all we done.

Kacelia: How long has it been since y'all had that store?

Fred: About 25 years I guess. About 25 or 30 years.

Kacelia: When did you first open it?

Fred: In around 1932, I believe.

Kacelia: Was it before Delores was born?

Fred: Yes.

Estellia: No, they helped us run it.

Fred: Yeah??????

Kacelia: Did y'all just have groceries or did y'all have other things like clothes and shoes?

Estellia: We had groceries, wire. We didn't have too much. We just had canned food. We didn't have no meats and stuff like that, we just had ??flour, salt and pepper. A variety of stuff but not no meats cause we didn't have no freezer, no frigidaire to keep it in.

Kacelia: How did y'all get y'all's shipments?

Estellia: We would go pick it up in a truck. We would go to the wholesale house and pick up whatever we needed.

Kacelia: Like a big flea market, big produce market?

Estellia: Yes, it was a wholesale house.

Kacelia: Where was that located?

Estellia: Located in Bluefield, West Virginia.

Kacelia: Where in Bluefield?

Estellia: I really don't know right now because they've gone out of business so I wouldn't know exactly where it was. It's been so long.

Kacelia: How old were your kids when you had your store?

Estellia: They were around about five or six.

Kacelia: Did they help run it?

Estellia: They helped eat the food.(laughter) They mostly eat candy all the time.

Kacelia: Where was your store located?

Estellia: Right here on this plantation.

Kacelia: How much was your flour?

Fred: Three pound bag was???

Kacelia: That would probably be about 3 or 4 dollars today?

Estellia: Around 5 or 6 dollars today.

Kacelia: What about your sugar?

Estellia: Sugar was very cheap.

Fred: It was five cents a pound.

Kacelia: Your sugar was five cents a pound?

Fred: Yes.

Kacelia: What about your salt?


Kacelia: Now for a little round bottle, it's about 31 cents or something like that for salt.

Estellia: It was maybe about 10 or 15 cents.

Kacelia: What about your canned products?

Estellia: You couldn't get paid ten cents all day long for a can of corn or whatever.

Kacelia: Ten cents for a can of corn?

Estellia: Five cents.

Kacelia: And today it's like a dollar and something. What about your candy?

Estellia: Candy. You could get a box of candy for less than a dollar, probably now it would cost five, maybe ten because we would get a lot of candy, because we eat a lot of candy.


Kacelia: What kind of work did you do Grandaddy?

Fred: Coal miner, I worked in the coal mines.

Kacelia: You worked in the coal mines?

Fred: Yes. I worked in the coal mines.

Kacelia: For how long?

Fred: Twenty-five years.

Kacelia: How old was you when you started?

Fred: About 18 years of age.

Kacelia: What about you Grandma?

Estellia: Well I was a housewife, canned food and kept the kids straight. Worked the garden, sewed, made quilts, made apple butter and all kinds of things like that.

Kacelia: But later on in life didn't you get a job?

Estellia: Later on I started working at Bluefield Sanitarium.

Kacelia: What's that?

Estellia: A hospital. And I worked at the hospital for about 20 years off and on.

Kacelia: What did you do at the hospital?

Estellia: I was assistant cook. In order to make more money, I would find different jobs and then I would go back to the hospital and work when I didn't have nothing else to do. I worked at the furniture factory in Pulaski, and I worked domestic work for the Lilly's and for the ?? and different people. And I began to think that it's time for me to go home so in the meantime, I had a light stroke about 20 years ago and I came home and I haven't been back to work since.

Kacelia: When did you have a stroke?

Estellia: In around about 1973, something like that.

Kacelia: And you're 80 years old now.

Estellia: Right.

Kacelia: God worked wonders for you.

Estellia: Thank you, yes he did.

Kacelia: Is that all you did was mining Grandaddy?

Fred: I built houses and churches ????

Kacelia: Did you build any houses and churches in Rocky Gap or Bland County?

Fred: Yeah, built my daddy's house, built my house, and built another house down ?? .

Kacelia: Did you build any churches or schools?

Fred: Yeah, there's churches that ??? and this church right here.

Kacelia: What's the name of the church?

Fred: ??

Kacelia: Didn't you build a church in Dry Fork?

Fred: Yeah, that was the church I built.

Kacelia: What was the name of that church?

Fred: Tynes Chapel.

Estellia: You mean you helped.

Kacelia: You mean you helped build the church.

Estellia: You helped to build the church.

Fred: ???

Kacelia: How many cemeteries were there? That you know of?

Fred: ????Robertson, Wagner,???

Estellia: Now really, don't nobody have no deed to no cemetaries but the ?Hogans'? . The Hogans owns one up here and have a deed, but the Fergesons, they own their own land, so therefore, they have a right to their cemetery, but nobody else has no deed but the Hogans, and the Fergusons is buried in the cemetery.

Kacelia: There's no other families besides Fergusons in the cemetery?

Estellia: Right now I don't think so.

Kacelia: Who is buried in Hogans'?

Estellia: ?? was buried in Hogans', Blairs is buried in Hogans', Saunders is buried in the Hogans' cemetery, and Prices is buried in the Hogans' cemetery, Tynes is buried in the Hogans' cemetery, and a lot more people but I can't remember right now. ??

Kacelia: What about the Robertsons?

Estellia: Robertsons buried in the Fergesons' cemetery.

Kacelia: Are they kinned to the Fergesons?

Estellia: No, not really.

Kacelia: Do ya'll know any ghost stories?

Estellia: Right. Look over my shoulder, he said

Kacelia: Why?

Estellia: He said "look over my shoulder and you'll see a ??", and I said, "Daddy, I don't want to look" he said "look, you'll see a ??, he's coming right now!" Oooh, I said, "Daddy, don't tell us that no more!" I said, "ooh, we's scared!" And so we never would look over his shoulder 'cause we thought we would see a ??. Really I didn't believe in ??s, I thought that was weird, somebody being a ??. It was scary, so I just really don't believe in ??s, I don't like telling ?? stories, I don't like ??s.

Kacelia: Have you experienced any ghostly figures or unexplained events?

Estellia: We used to wash out at the spring and meantime when I got through washing, I had a quilt left and I just hung it up on a post so that night I had to go back and get some water and I thought it was a ?? so I got real scared and flusterated and I was almost up to it so I just eased my hand on it and shake it. Ooh, I was scared! And I touched it and it was the quilt I had hung up on the post. That was scary. From that day to this day I don't believe in no ??s. I would have said it was a ?? if I hadn't touched it. So that ends the ?? story.

Kacelia: What about you Grandaddy?

Fred: What you want me to tell?

Kacelia: Do you have any unexplained events or have you seen any ghostly figures or have you got any scary stories to tell?

Fred: ???? she'd come there and get me ????helicopter out there in the field looking for some men?????so he went up there????and the horse come up here ??? sheriff and helicopter lit out here and they were looking for some men????my horse come down to the house and told me where they's at and so the man ran up there to the helicopter bloodhound ?? up on the mountain and got him and ?????????????????????

Kacelia: Where and when were you born, either one of y'all?

Estellia: I was born on 1915, January 16 in Rocky Gap, Virginia.

Kacelia: How old are you now?

Estellia: I'm 80 years old.

Kacelia: Fred, where and when were you born?

Fred: On ??June tenth on the thirteenth day of August???.

Kacelia: Where were you born?

Fred: Right here on Dry Fork ??.

Kacelia: Where were your mother and father born and raised?

Fred: In Floyd, Virginia.

Kacelia: Both your parents?

Fred: Yes, mom and dad both born in Floyd, Virginia.

Kacelia: What were their names?

Fred: In a little town called Willis, Virginia. That's where they lived in Willis, Virginia- that's in Floyd County- Willis, Virginia.

Kacelia: What were there names?

Fred: Before they married or after they married?

Kacelia: After they married.

Fred: ?? and Pal Saunders

??: Her maiden name was Price?

Fred: Yeah, Price, and my daddy was a Saunders.

Kacelia: Estellia, what about your mother and father? Where were they born and raised and what was their maiden names and their married names?

Estellia: My mother, she was Kanelia Hogan, and she married my father and his name was MacDaniel Ferguson. He was raised here in Rocky Gap, Virginia, 1981[1881]. And my mother she was born I believe here too, same place, in Rocky Gap, Virginia, on August 12, 1985,I'll correct that, 1881 to 1885.

Kacelia: What was your father like, Estellia?

Estellia: What was he like? He was a very brilliant man. He went to Christiansburg High School. He worked there as a farmer-- milking cows and tending to milk. That's the way he got his education.

Kacelia: What was your father like, Fred?

Fred: He was a tall, white man with straight black hair. A white man.

Kacelia: Your father was white?

Fred: Yes.

Kacelia: Your mother was black?

Fred: Brown-skinned, her color. There's a picture on the wall you can see it yonder.

Kacelia: Estellia, what did your parents do for a living?

Estellia: My mother and father--my mother was a housewife and my father worked at the freight station in Bluefield, West Virginia.

Kacelia? What's a freight station?

Estellia: It was where you get freight.

Fred: ?? unload a shipment.

Kacelia: Loading it on a train. Is that what it was?

Estellia: Right.

Kacelia: What about your mother and father? What did they do for a living?

Fred: Sawmill man. Run a grismill and a sawmill. And a farmer. Raised cattle.

Kacelia: What did your mother do?

Fred: She was a housewife.

Estellia: She raised children.

Fred: Raised a big family and kept a big bunch of boys. All the men that worked there came and eat. My daddy fed them. Sometimes about seventeen of them.

Kacelia: When you were both younger, what kind of toys did you all play with or what did y'all do for fun, small little things like that?

Estellia: We jumped rope and we played merry-go-round, see-sawing-- which we would have a big ol' log out there and we would put a plank on it and that's the way we see-sawed. We'd ride grapevines.

Kacelia: What about you Fred, what did you do for fun when you was smaller?

Fred: I jumped grapevines and made a grapevine swing--tied them in the trees and made a swing.

Estellia: Played ball.

Fred: And played ball.

Kacelia: What kind of ball?

Fred: Baseball.

Kacelia: Is that the only kind of ball that y'all had?

Fred: Yes. Baseball. And swing and played Jack-in-the-bush.

Kacelia: Jack-in-the-bush, what's that?

Fred: ?????

Kacelia: How did you play that?

Estellia: You would have some chinkapins in your hand and the other person would chinkapins in their hand and one would say "Jack-in- the-bush" and the other would say "cut 'em down, how many's in?" They was five. If it wasn't five, you had to put the rest of 'em in there. Nobody plays it anymore.

Kacelia: What kind of toys did y'all play with? Did you go to the store and buy your toys or did you have to make your toys?

Fred: Made of corn??.

Estellia: We made our toys like stuffed animals and stuffed dolls, put eyes in 'em.

Kacelia: What about the boys' toys? Did y'all make them or did y'all buy them from the store?

Fred: No, we made them out of ??? sacks.

Kacelia: What were your house chores? What kind of housework did you all have to do?

Estellia: Ordinary housework like we do today. Make beds, scrub floors, wash windows, wash clothes on a washboard and hang them out on the line.

Kacelia: What's a washboard? Y'all didn't have washing machines back then?

Estellia: Our washboard was our washing machine. You rubbed your clothes up and down on a board.

Kacelia: I bet that was hard work.

Estellia: It really wasn't hard work because everybody was doing it.

Kacelia: What was you house like? Was it log, was it wood? What kind of heat did you have in it? Different things like that.

Estellia: We had an eight room house. The house had a fireplace. One side of the house had a stove that burned wood.

Kacelia: What was your house like, Fred?

Fred: It was a log house. A log two-story house.

Kacelia: Did y'all have any electric heat or gas heat or anything like that?

Fred: No. Had pine knots for light.

Kacelia: Did y'all have a fireplace or how did y'all heat the house?

Fred: With wood. We had a fireplace and heated the house with
wood. And cooked with wood.

Kacelia: What kind of food did you cook with wood?

Fred: Cooked buckwheat cakes and bacon and flapjacks and applesauce and applebutter.

Kacelia: When you was younger did your family grow a garden?

Fred: We growed a garden, yeah. Raise a garden--potatoes, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers and all kinds of vegetables.

Kacelia: What about you, Estellia?

Estellia: Well, you mean in the ?? We would kill a cow, hang it up in the bank house and eat off of it until it was all gone. Killed hogs, killed chickens, and once a year, we would get a mutton.

Kacelia: What's a mutton?

Estellia: A sheep.

Kacelia: 0o, a sheep?

Estellia: Kill one every year.

Kacelia: What was your favorite food? Your favorite meal?

Estellia: Fish. We would order barrels of fish from Norfolk, Virginia and we eat fish.

Kacelia: How would y'all get it? Did y'all have cars back then or did y'all have to take a train or what?

Estellia: Well, we rode horse and buggies. Our ride was horse and the buggy.

Kacelia: Did y'all pack your lunch when y'all went to school or what did y'all pack for your lunches? Did y'all take like bologna sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or what did y'all take for lunch back then?

Estellia: Back then we had light rolls, apple butter and jelly and bread to pack our lunch with. Ham, whatever we choose to eat, that's what we would fix our lunch with.

Kacelia: What about you, Fred?

Fred: We had buckwheat cakes, and bacon and boiled eggs.

Kacelia: Is that what you took for lunch when you went to school?

Fred: Yes. That's what we had for lunch.

Kacelia: How did the teachers discipline the students back then?

Fred: They learned them how to farm, learned them how to read, learned them how to be mannerly, and go to church and Sunday School on Sunday.

Kacelia: What did they do for punishment in the schools?

Fred: Take a switch and whip them and make them stand in the corner and didn't give them no recess. Made them stand in the corner all day.

Kacelia: What about the girls? Did they do the same thing for the girls?

Fred: They did the same thing. Didn't let them play and made them stand in the corner.

Kacelia: Is that how they disciplined the girls too?

Estellia: Sometimes the teacher would take a paddle and paddle you in your hand or either stand you up in the corner for half an hour with one foot up and one foot down.

Kacelia: Why one foot up? What was that for?

Estellia: Punishing you.

Fred: Punish you. And sometimes they wouldn't give you no recess. You stayed in the schoolhouse all day. They wouldn't give you your recess back for four or five sessions. You didn't get no recess 'til ????.

Kacelia: Did you ever get in trouble when you were younger, Estellia?

Estellia: One time, we had a schoolhouse. We all switched about sweeping the floor. We had a good broom and a bad broom. When it come to my turn, and the partner's turn, well, she grabbed the good broom and I grabbed the good broom. We fought over the broom, after that everything was alright. I won. I took the good broom away from her. In all my school days, that's all I ever got in to.

Kacelia: What was a good broom and a bad broom supposed to be for?

Estellia: When one broom wear out, you get a new broom and keep that old broom so you can have two brooms. One to sweep one side of the school and the other one to sweep the other side of the school. So we all had to divide up so we could get the good broom and the old broom--and get the old broom so we could get through quick and get out of school.

Kacelia: Did anybody pull any jokes or did you pull any jokes on anybody when you was younger?

Fred: Yes. I pulled jokes on them.

Kacelia: Like what kind?

Fred: I tell them that Santa Claus come brought me a lot of stuff in there.

Kacelia: Is that it?

Fred: No. Only trouble I was in I was late coming in the schoolhouse and they take away my recess. That was the trouble I got in. That was the trouble I got in, coming in late to school, I had to stay in the next day, losing my recess, that's my punishment.

Kacelia: Do you remember any funny stories or any pranks that were pulled, or that you pulled on anybody or that was pulled on you?

Fred: ?????

Kacelia: Do you remember any stories, any funny stories?

Fred: Any funny stories?

Kacelia: About anybody that was in school with you, or that you grew up with?

Fred: Yeah, I remember a funny story, we had a swing, swinging in the big tree down there, and the swing broke, and then? ? so then some of them took an ax and chopped all the limbs out of it so we couldn't put no swing up in there. Swing and the rope broke and hurt one of them's legs, so he took an ax and chopped all the limbs out so you couldn't put no swing up in there.

Kacelia: Did anybody pull any jokes, or did you pull any jokes on anybody when you was younger?

Fred: Yeah, I pulled jokes on 'em.

Kacelia: Like what kind of...

Fred: Jokes I pulled on 'em? I tell 'em that Santa Claus come and brought me a lot of stuff in there.

Kacelia: Is that it?

Fred: Yeah, tell 'em a joke, I'd say Santa Claus brought me some clothes and a big box of candy and a whole lot of stuff.

Kacelia: What about you, Estellia, do you remember any funny stories or pranks that were pulled on you, or anybody else?

Estellia: We used to tell riddles in school, and I can remember some of them, but I'm just only gonna tell you one so it won't take up too much of your time. You might can answer this: Riddle, riddle, I suppose, a half a ham and no nose.

Fred: ???

Estellia: I can't say what it was, you know, riddle riddle, I suppose, a half a ass and no nose.

Kacelia: A half a ass and no nose? What is a ass?

Estellia: You know what it is?

Kacelia: Huh uh.

Estellia: A ham.

Kacelia: Oh, so you gave the answer away.

Estellia: Uh huh. I messed it up. So, a half a ham and no, I mean I said a half a ham, a half a ass and no nose.

Kacelia: How you spell ass?

Estellia: a-s-s.

Kacelia: A-s-s?

Kacelia: When you were a teenager, how did the teenagers date or court or what have you?

Estellia: When my boyfriend come to see me, my mother'd be somewhere close by, and you wasn't allowed to go in another room and shut the door. Mother, she would watch you until he would leave the house, and then at eleven o'clock, they'd say bedtime, we'd know to hit the hay. Hittin' the hay was like we have matresses, but we had hay beds.

Kacelia: What about you, how did you, when you were younger, how did teenage boys date, or court or what have you?

Fred: ??? you done?

Kacelia: No, how did the teenage boys go dating, or how did they court?

Fred: How'd they court? They'd write notes to one another, they'd write notes and on the note they'd say "I love you". That's how you'd give a note, you'd pass it around, and write to ??, say "I love you".

Kacelia: Did you ever go on dates, or did you take your girlfriend out or anything when you were younger?

Fred: No, ????? school, and had to be home before the sun go down.

Kacelia: What about you, Estellia, did you ever go on dates, or ?

Estellia: We would go a little??, turkeys and things and eat together, that was our date.

Kacelia: Y'all didn't go to the movies or go out to eat?

Estellia: No, no, no.

Fred: (Laughs)

Estellia: That was a no-no.

Fred: ???, I never kissed my wife until I married her.

Kacelia: You never kissed your wife until you married her?

Fred: No.

Kacelia: Where were you all married?

Fred: In Bland Courthouse.

Estellia: We were married in Bland, but we were married at Rev. Boone, Raymond Boone.

Fred: Raymond Boone was a minister.

Kacelia: So y'all got married in a church or a courthouse?

Estellia: In his house.

Kacelia: So there was a ceremony?

Estellia: Yes.

Kacelia: What was it like? Was it like today's ceremonies?

Fred: Yeah.

Estellia: Not no big ceremony, just he read the marriage and then told him you can salute the bride.

Kacelia: Did you go on honeymoons?

Estellia: Yeah, we went decorating that day.

Kacelia: Decorating what?

Estellia: Graves. It was on a decoration day. ?? 1932.

Kacelia: Now you say that you had three children?

Estellia: Yes.

Kacelia: Did you think that back then was easier to raise your children than you see people raising their children today? Or do you think it was harder?

Estellia: I think it was easier because children wasn't allowed to be participating in all kinda activities and into clubs and all that, so we gave the children something to do at home.

Kacelia: Like work?

Estellia: Work, we'd give 'em work ??

Kacelia: Why or why not do you think it was easier back then?

Estellia: Well, there wasn't no drugs, or no kinda violence so much then as there is now, now you find drugs, little children selling drugs, four and five years old.

Kacelia: When did the first black family move into Dry Fork, or do you know?

Estellia: The first black family that was moved here in Dry Fork was

Fred: Granddaddy Ferguson.

Estellia: My Granddaddy Ferguson.

Kacelia: What was his full name?

Estellia: Mac? Ferguson.

Kacelia: Where did they move from?

Estellia: I believe they moved from Franklin County.

Fred: Yeah, Franklin.

Kacelia: Why did they move to Bland County? Was there some..

Estellia: They moved here to farm because it was a nice, quiet place and they came and started working and cleaning up the farm, and he made his living on the farm. They found a nice location and everything, there wasn't no, uh, wasn't nothing here to do, but they made themselves their own jobs.

Fred: They raised cattle.

Estellia: They raised hogs and corn..

Fred: Cattle and horses

Estellia: ..most everything they wanted they raised. So boys, they loved to work with horses, and girls, the girls, they liked a sewin' their clothes, and make applebutter, and that was all fun, make molasses, and have a applebutter stirrin'.

Kacelia: What about sorghum, have y'all ever made sorghum?

Estellia: That's what you called it, molasses is sorghum, same thing. And they would have a apple peelin', we'd all gather together and peel apples, peel bushels of apples, several bushels of apples. Next day, we'd make applebutter and stir it all day long. Everybody like to get together, that's when they done the most courtin', applebutter and molasses stirrin'. It was real fun. It was fun, fun, fun.

Kacelia: Who was the first people that they bought the land from?

Fred: Who was the first people that they bought the land from? They bought, Granddaddy Mac Ferguson and Will??? bought the first land in here.

Estellia: I really don't know who they bought it from, but I think they give about fifty cent an acre, wasn't it?

Fred: Yeah, I believe about fifty cent an acre.

Estellia: About fifty cent an acre for, my granddaddy bought about a hundred and fifty acres, whoever they had to pay, I don't know who they payed. I don't know who they bought it from, but he had one hundred and fifty acres.

Kacelia: When did the family, when did the Ferguson family first come in?

Fred: Where'd they come from?

Kacelia: When. When did they first come into Bland County?

Estellia: I can't answer that one.

Fred: Huh?

Estellia: I said I can't answer that one.

Fred: I guess it was eighteen and..

Estellia: Eighteen and something.

Fred: Eighteen and eighty-four?

Estellia: No.

Fred: Eighteen hundred something, I can't hardly remember right exact, ????, eighteen hundred something.

Kacelia: Do you remember any bad snows or floods or anything up through Dry Fork?

Fred: Yes'm. You want me to name a while?

Kacelia: Uh huh.

Fred: That flood come and washed all the windows out, and washed the road away, the road washed away and we couldn't get outta here. We tied up for several weeks in here for we could get out, the road and bridges all washed away,

Kacelia: When was this?

Fred: Had to be back in eighteen something,

Estellia: No, you wasn't born in eighteen, you was born in nineteen,

Fred: Nineteen, yeah.

Estellia: It would have been about nineteen, we's married in '32, it was about, maybe '35, '37. And the snow! The snow'd get three feet deep. You would always have to buy a lot of food because we always looked for high snows, and a lot of people, we didn't have lights and so people that didn't have lights, they would go from one house to the other to borrow lamps off of each other.

Fred: Some of them had pine knots for lights.

Kacelia: Who was the first president that you remember?

Fred: Can you hear?

Kacelia: Who was the first president that you remember?

Fred: Oh yeah. ????????Abraham Lincoln????

Estellia: I know the first president that was president, George Washington was the first president, but I can't remember which one was here when I came. Hoover was here in '32, when I got married, I know that Hoover was here, that was a hard time.

Kacelia: What was so hard about it?

Fred: Coolidge.

Kacelia: How old were you when you saw the first automobile?

Fred: I was about eight years old.

Kacelia: How old was you, Estellia, when you first saw a automobile?

Estellia: The first automobile, I was about thirteen years old. The first automobile I ever rode in was my father-in-law's. I was a little girl about thirteen years old. He had a T-model Ford, I believe.

Kacelia: Do remember the first movie that you went to see?

Estellia: No, I can't remember that because I hardly ever went to a movie.

Kacelia: Where did black people from Dry Fork do their shopping? Where did they get their groceries? Their clothes? Where did they go see the doctor? Did they go to Bluefield or Wytheville, or where did they go for their things?

Estellia: We had a country doctor here and teh country doctor took care fo your teeth, your body, your everything. And the country stores were here in Rocky Gap, Virginia. You go to the country store and you buy anything because most everybody had their own food, most everybody made their own clothes--all they would do was buy material and make whatever they want. Bought shoes maybe once or twice a year. We didn't have no pile of shoes like I got. I got so many shoes now I don't have no where to put them.

Kacelia: Were there any other black owned businesses besides you all that you know of up through Dry Fork?

Estellia: Um, Ferguson's. Andrew Ferguson was a barber here in Dry Fork.

Kacelia: Is that the only two that you can think of?

Estellia: Right now that's all I can think of.

Kacelia: During segregation did black children go to elementary school, high school, or did they go to Bland County schools?

Estellia: Black kids up here in Dry Fork, they had a little school here. The teacher would teach first to ninth grades. They all went to this one little school. One teacher taught everybody.

Kacelia: One teacher? Did you have the same teacher from like when you first started school up until you graduated?

Estellia: No, you had different teachers every year probably. Teachers would go and come.

Kacelia: Can you name any of your teachers?

Estellia: My first teacher was Mr. ?Graham?, he was from Tennessee. My second teacher, Mary?Rayford?. On down, I had Miss Morehead, Davenport, and a lot more of them but I can't remember them all right now.

Kacelia: What about you? Can you remember any teachers that you had when you was younger?

Fred: Yes, Reverend Harris.

Kacelia: You had a preacher for your teacher?

Fred: Yes. My teacher, Rev. Harris and Johnny ?Seed? , and Mary Rayford.

Estellia: That's all he can remember right now.

Kacelia: Do you remember any trouble during desegregation in Bland County?

Estellia: In Bland County, well, you would have to ride, course we didn't do much riding, but they segregated most everywhere. You couldn't go in a restaurant to eat. We eat most places, was Wytheville, we would ride the train, hitch the train or bus or whatever and you'd have to get in the back. They had a little back place for the black people. If you stop in the restaurant, they have a little place in the back they would reach you a sandwich through the window.

Kacelia: Did any people up in Dry Fork get involved or were they active in the Civil Rights Movement that you know of?

Estellia: Not really.

Kacelia: Was anyone involved in the NAACP?

Estellia: Not really.

Kacelia: What did the people think when they first heard about Dr. King and his Civil Rights Movement?

Estellia: They thought he was great.

Kacelia: What about you? What was your thoughts?

Fred: He was the greatest man ever ?come on the scene??.

Kacelia: What was the weather like back then? Was it the same as it is now?

Estellia: No, it wasn't like it is now because now, if you kill a cow in November, you've got to can it or put it in the freezer, wrap it up, but back then, you could kill a cow and hang it up in the smokehouse and never spoil, no flies or nothing bothered it. But now, you better not kill one and hang him out there, he'll rot.

Fred: The maggots eat it.

Kacelia: How did the first blacks and whites get along up in Dry Fork?

Estellia: They got along real nice because everybody was raised together and everybody got along fine up in Dry Fork, where other people was fighting and fussing.

Kacelia: So it wasn't like any other part of the east coast, or any other part of the county?

Estellia: Right.

Fred: One thing they did, they got along nicely. No trouble at all, they helped each other. ??? give 'em wood?????bring food to the house?????

Kacelia: When President Franklin Roosevelt was in office, what did you think about him? Did you like him? Did you not like him? How did you feel about him?

Fred: Roosevelt was the best president I've known. Best President that's ever been elected in the United States.

Kacelia: Who?

Fred: President Roosevelt.

Kacelia: Franklin Roosevelt?

Fred: Franklin D. Roosevelt was the best president elected in the United States, done more for the poor people and the colored people than any president in the United States.

Kacelia: What do you think about him?

Estellia: Now I can't speak too much about him because, for one reason, at that time, I was young, I didn't know too much about presidents. I didn't try to learn too much about them. I don't think I ever had a real bad time because everybody was in the same category.

Kacelia: How old was you when he was in office?

Estellia: I was about 18, I guess.

Kacelia: So you were stilll young at the time?

Estellia: Right.

Kacelia: Why did some people oppose or support FDR, do you think?

Estellia: Well, everybody had somebody they're going to look up to.

Kacelia: Why do you think some people opposed and some people approved of Franklin Roosevelt?

Fred: Franklin Roosevelt done more for the colored people and the poor people. He the one that brought about Social Security and give the people something to live on. Brought about Social Security and retirement plan here in the United States.

Kacelia: Do either one of you remember when Franklin Roosevelt died?

Fred: Yes, the same year my Momma or Daddy one died. The whole country hurt when Roosevelt died. Somebody shot him, didn't they? I believe somebody shot him. If I'm not mistaken. It was a sad day. Everything shut down on the railroad and ??????

Kacelia: Is there anything that you would like to add?

Estellia: President Hoover, I don't think you said anything about him. He was a man that, he wasn't a good president, I don't think.

Fred: He starved the country, brought starvation to the United States.

Estellia: He had people on starvation although it didn't bother me because didn't nobody have too much therefore we ?get along, you do all you can do?, nobody has nothing around you, you don't feel bad that you don't have nothing because what you don't have, you don't miss, you know. Nobody didn't have too much, but we all glad we got out.

Kacelia: When did your family first get their radio?

Estellia: Our first radio, I guess I was around about 14 years old.

Kacelia: What do you remember the first show being, on the radio? Or do you remember?

Estellia: I can remember, not too much. I remember we used to have a record that played "A tisket, a tasket, a brown and yellow basket". That's the title.

Kacelia: How old were you when you first got electricity?

Estellia: I don't really remember the date.

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