Peggy: We went to school at Rocky Gap. It was fun. We played softball. The boys used to play baseball.
Bobby Jo: We had the basketball team. Annie Rudd was our basketball coach. I was forward. At that time, you didn't have a center. There were six people on each side of the court.
Peggy: And they were to grab the ball and throw it down to their forwards on the other side of the court who shot.
Bobby Jo: And you couldn't step across that center line. If you did, you lost the ball. It went to the other side.
Peggy: So we actually played half court basketball. The boys played full court, but the girls only played half court basketball.
Peggy: We had basketball teams, but we had to practice outside cause we didn't have a gym. We'd have to drive to Bland to the gym, and we'd get to practice maybe a couple times before a game, but we didn't have the gym at Rocky Gap until later. But we used to drive there. We used play Burkes Garden. We'd go to Burkes Garden, and then when I was in school we played Graham, but pretty good. We were pretty good. That was about the only sports we had in school, but we played together. Played tag and what else did we play in school?
Grade School and Teachers
Bobby Jo: When we were smaller. Yeah, the teacher would go out and play with us, and we studied the same subjects you have now.
Peggy: I remember in the primer, well we had primer like for a month of two. You didn't have kindergarten. You went to primer they called it, and then first grade was all in one year. But all of us had this big box of crayons. And I loved them. There were about six, seven crayons, and they were about as big around as my finger is now, about five inches long. You had your name on your crayon box, so you got take up the crayons sometimes if you were good and give them out. And then every morning we would stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. And we used to have a short prayer in the mornings. We'd sing a song usually in our own classrooms, and then we'd have an assembly like I told you before.
Peggy: I remember all my teachers. I had Ms. Tickle in the first grade. Who'd you have in the first grade?
Bobby Jo: Ms. Tickle.
Peggy: Second grade was...
Bobby Jo: Ruby Billips.
Peggy: Yeah, Ruby Billips. Third grade...
Bobby Jo: I had Virginia Ruth Morehead.
Peggy: I had Irene Gregory. Fourth grade I had Ada Simpkins.
Bobby Jo: And I had Virginia Ruth Morehead again.
Peggy: Fifth grade I had Hazel Stowers.
Bobby Jo: Miss Hazel Stowers.
Peggy: And then she had to go teach in the high school, and I had a lady by the name of Annie Rudd. I loved Ms. Stowers, but Annie Rudd was special. I really liked her. And in the sixth grade was Lucille Walters.
Bobby Jo: I had, what was her first name? Foglesong woman. Anyways it was Virginia Ruth Morehead's mother, and she got sick and Virginia Ruth finished the year for us. And I had her three years in school, Virginia Ruth Morehead.
Peggy: And then in seventh grade I had Ora Grey Stowers, Ora Grey Umbarger Stowers. And then in the eighth grade that's when you went into high school, and so you had different teachers for different classes. Homeroom was Hazel Bailey. Then I had a teacher Mr. Shelton was the principal. Oh my goodness, Lee Royal, and Lee Royal was killed in the Vietnam War, and his name is on the wall in D.C. He was a great biology teacher.
Bobby Jo: We had Dave Maulden in high school.
Peggy: We had David Maulden for English.
Bobby Jo: I had him as an algebra teacher.
Peggy: Then I had a great lit. teacher named Walter Porterfield. He was marvelous. He was the best lit. teacher. He made it come alive for you.
Bobby Jo: And mine was Eleanor Goad. She was excellent.
Peggy: Just the literature stories and poetry, he let us discuss the poetry and think about what each poet meant. He just made it wonderful.
Peggy: We had Garland Updike who was a wonderful principal. We got to do the Beta Club. We got to have an annual. We got publish the newspaper. We did a monogram club, and he was wonderful. And I must tell you the Beta Club. I was a junior when we organized the Beta Club, and we didn't organize until it must have been February or March when we organized the club. Mary Jane Umbarger, Mary Jane Summers who is now Umbarger was the first President.I was the first full time Beta Club President at Rocky Gap High School for the whole tenor. And I was also editor of the annual my senior year. Ruth Fisher, my still good friend, Ruth Newton Fisher, was the editor of the newspaper. And she and Buddy Carrol and I used to write the articles for the news paper, and our dad would design the front cover. And we got to go to the SIPA Convention in Washington and Lee, and we won on our annual and our newspaper even though it was our first year. So we did a good job. We really did.
Bobby Jo: Yeah, Dad drew the eagle for the Eagle Eye, the newspaper in school.
Peggy: We called it the Eagle Eye. I don't know what it's called now. But it was the Eagle Eye. We named it the Eagle Eye. It should still be the Eagle Eye, and we named the annual the ROGAHI for Rocky Gap High. I have copies of the very first ones. I have a copy of the first certificate for the Beta Club. I even have an old Beta Club jacket. I really should donate that to the school and one of the Beta Club pins. Anyway, Mr. Updike was so good. School was so much more interesting and more fun when he was there, and it was great for all us that got to participate in all those things.
Lunch and Segregation
Peggy: The lunchroom burned, and it was, I don't know how many years, a couple years or so before they finished the new school that had the lunchroom. When we first started school at Rocky Gap we carried our lunch with us to school everyday. When we were very small and it was before I went to school, but my granddaddy had raised a field of wheat, and the only one that had thrashers was a black family that lived up Dry Fork, and his name was Mr. Ferguson, and they came to thrash the wheat. There was three or four of the gentlemen I think, but my grandmother, she would cook twenty different things it seemed like for lunch. And so she made lunch and set the table and had all the food on the table, and they came in and washed their hands, but the black gentlemen would not sit down at the table. And as a child it was so hard for me to understand why they didn't want to eat with us. I thought something was wrong with us, but anyways there was a little screen porch adjoined to the kitchen and so there was a table out there. And my grandmother, we had a wash basin and water there where you washed your hands when you came in the house. So they said they would eat there, and they wouldn't sit down with us. And I guess that was my first experience with I guess you might call it racial difference. I mean they were wonderful people, and I know my grandfather respected them very much. But that was one of my memories as a child. And then my second memory was after I was in school, first or second grade, there was a gas pump up at the end of the old school house. I think those pumps are still there.
Bobby Jo: No, they moved it.
Peggy: They moved it. But anyway, the bus full of, well it wasn't a large bus, a small bus with the little black children from up Dry Fork would come, and they'd gas the bus up there and head off to across East River Mountain. They had to cross the mountain in winter, bad weather, whatever, and I always wondered why those children weren't allowed to go to school at Rocky Gap because when we were children in grade school, they had to go to Bluefield to school. And then finally I guess, I don't remember the year, they started bring the children to Rocky Gap.
Punishment and Teachers
Bobby Jo: I think Scottie was in the second grade . They used the paddle to make us behave.
Peggy: Or a switch.
Bobby Jo: I got a paddling one time in the second grade, and one in the, I can't remember whether it was the third or fourth grade. Anyway the first one in the second grade, we had gone to assembly, and we were not to talk while we were in there, you know. And a boy in our class was sitting behind me, Billy Graham. He's dead now. Anyway he made a noise with his mouth, and Miss Priss turned around and said to him "You better be quiet." And I got a whipping for saying that. Alright in the I can't remember whether it was third or fourth grade, these boys were teasing me. They told me I wore bloomers, and they just kept on and kept on and finally I said. This boy raised his arms up, and I saw the top of underwear. His shirt came up, and I said "Well that's nothing I see your underwear." So I got a whipping. Virginia Ruth Morehead. I never liked her.
Peggy: No wonder.
Bobby Jo: Well the reason is because when she whipped me, she left bruises on me with the paddle.
Peggy: Abuse! Call the child abuse number!
Bobby Jo: Yeah boy, it was abuse. Boy, she wouldn't do that now.We were pretty well behaved.
Peggy: The problem was we just weren't that mischievous. The girls were always pretty good. The guys maybe, the worst of the lot, sometimes drank beer.
Bobby Jo: I remember one time that we climbed out the restroom window and got in the car and went to Bluefield, but then we got punished for it.
Peggy: The worst thing I ever did, Ruth Fisher and I used to get cheese and pickles and sneak back there and eat cheese and pickles in the old lunchroom building. There would be huge, huge crates of cheese. Oh my God, it was good. I remember one thing we did at Easter we would always have Easter Egg hunts at school, and that was a lot of fun. And in the spring our teachers. I guess you know where Cove Hollar is. The interstate, you have to go under the interstate bridge and up there. We used to go up there on a picnic usually at the end of the year. That was the fun thing that we did.
Bobby Jo: Some teachers would and some wouldn't.
Peggy: Yeah, if you had a great teacher then she would take you on a picnic. We'd bring things, and we'd all go there and have a picnic lunch. But I supposed like then, like now, some teachers were great and then others just did what they had to do to get back.
Peggy: We had a kid, and his name was Marvin Bowling. Teachers were always rough. I don't remember him being that mean, but it seemed like the teachers picked on him for some reason. Annie Rudd loved Marvin, and he did so well when she came board as our teacher. He really excelled in her, and it was because she loved him. And then we got back in the sixth grade and it was the same thing over and over again. As well as I remember, Marvin quit school. I always liked her because she was good to Marvin, and believe it or not teachers do make a difference.
Peggy: There was an auditorium in the elementary school at Rocky Gap. It's now a classrooms I think. And then, you know, each the elementary children you could, they would have assembly and the kids would put on a little play or a little skit. The seniors always had a senior play so when they needed the auditorium for rooms, but they lost a lot when they did not restore that in this last construction because the R's are important, but you need the arts too to make your life whole. You really do. I mean what if you could only do reading and writing and arithmetic, but you couldn't sing or you couldn't paint, so we lost a lot. I wish they would restore that auditorium at Rocky Gap especially. Well, they do have a band now, they have no choir. Oh that was another thing we used to have. It was very enjoyable. We used to have singing school. Remember Bobby Jo? And a man by the name of Leslie, Brother Leslie they called him. I can't remember what his first name is. James Leslie? I can't remember his name, but he would come in, and he had books, and we learned the shaped notes like doe was a triangle. Ray was with a little curve on it. What was mee? I can't remember mee. La was a little rectangle, but every note had it's shape so you learned music by the shaped notes, and so you knew how to sing. And he would work with us a week or two, and then at the end we would have kind of like a concert, and everybody would sing. And it was amazing how wonderful people, how the kids sang, I mean because you had the alto and the soprano. It was very beautiful. That was gratifying. It was a lot of fun, but it was gratifying. It's kind of too bad we don't have that for the kids now. All the children sang. He would have it there at that little church at Rocky Gap, and each grade, you know, would have different times at that was when you would go to singing school for that period of time he was here. I mean like if I'd be in the second grade, maybe the second grade went from 10 to 11 or something, but it was neat. It really was neat.
Bobby Jo: We sang hymns.
Peggy: They were all religious songs. Songs like "I'll Fly Away". What were some of the others? Really beautiful, beautiful songs that would have the different parts, like the sopranos would sing one part and the altos would sing another part. All kinds of religious hymns, but it was fun. I think the families would come if they could, see most people worked, and so maybe your mom would have a chance to come, but you just didn't have rapid transportation like you do now. I mean everybody and his brother didn't have their own car. I have to tell you this story. At Wolfaurt Haus right now, we're doing Oklahoma!, and one of the songs that was written for Oklahoma! was "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning". And the very first assembly I ever attended at Rocky Gap as a little kid, the superintendent of the schools was there, Mr. R.P. Reynolds. And he stood up and sang to all of us "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning". And then he made us learn the song, and we sat there, and we all sang "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning". And, you know, I didn't know about Oklahoma!, about Broadway shows, or anything, and I just learned from us producing that show at Wolfaurt Haus that song couldn't have been but a year or two old cause that would have been in the early 40s. Let's see I would have been in the first grade in 1943 so. And that was something that we had then, that they do not have in school now, but like every Monday morning you'd have an assembly in school. The teachers, we would sing, and the teachers would talk. Maybe somebody would read a poem or whatever, and that was a really nice thing they did in school. It was a together thing. It made the whole school feel like you were one, like you were really a member of that school, but it was nice. That's been lost too now, I think.