I was born in Niday on May 8, 1927. I went to school at Burton Schoolhouse, a one room school and I walked about, I'd say, a mile and a quarter at least, to and from school. A mile to school, and about that far home. The elementary school was a one room school, and we had seven grades. There was about anywhere from 18 to 21 kids, at the time, in all different grades, maybe 2 or 3 in each grade. Something like that. We had recess and lunch. We had a recess of the morning. Let's see, we had 30 minutes of a morning and lunch, we had half an hour. No we had more than that. Recess was a half an hour and lunch was 45 minutes. And then we had a half an hour in the evening for recess. We played everything from tap-hand to drop the handkerchief. We did play baseball, you know. We didn't have a baseball but mostly a sponge ball, and we hit it. We had bases and everything. We played ball back then just like we do now. There weren't any school sponsored sports in the elementary over here.
I started to Rocky Gap School in my 4th grade, and I went there from then on until I graduated. Ceres, Bland, Hollybrook, Mechanicsburg, Rocky Gap, and Bastian was the schools in the county. Daddy went to Bland and went before the school board and had the bus to come and meet me up there at the end of the bridge where I came off the mountain. My uncle John was on the school board, and he had a lot to do with it. And I rode the bus to Rocky Gap. We had bullies. I think they come with school. To deal with them the teachers paddled them! If they jumped on somebody, they got a paddling and had to sit in. They didn't get no recesses. They got to eat their lunch, but they didn't get to go out and play for so many days. I tried not to be a bully, but sometimes I guess I was, for I took up for the underdog all the time.
Playing Basket Ball
I played sports in grade school for there weren't many people going to school at that time up there. And when I was in the 7th grade, I played on the basketball team, and I played on the softball team. I played forward in basketball, and I played shortstop on the softball team. We didn't play Bastian. It was just a grade school, an elementary school. But the rest of them were high schools. They had high school teams. So we played all of them in basketball and softball. Everybody wanted to beat Bland. Everybody wanted to beat Bland. . I remember we went on a trip to Bland, well it was the playoffs, and we played them off at night. And we had to go over there, and we were coming across Brushy Mountain rode in an open truck and somebody drowned us with water coming across that mountain on that big, high cliff. We were all drowned, and it was cold! Come to find out, Bobby Newberry was in that bunch. But we had pretty good teams. We didn't win every game, but we didn't lose every game. So we had average teams. We won about half of our games. What I remember most about playing was just the fun. We used to have a lot of fun playing ball. We'd get out and play. We would get down there and see who could hit the ball the farthermost, or see who could throw it the fartherest, and everything. We just had fun. We didn't, you know, just try to beat the other out. We just had fun playing. Now we went on a school bus when we played, but we went during school hours. See, we played; there wasn't but one school that had an indoor gymnasium, and that was Bland. We didn't have a gym at that time. It wasn't built until the 50's, I think. Late 50's or, no, early 60's I believe when they built that gym up there. We played basketball outside on the ground. The basketball court up at Rocky Gap was right above the grade school, in that flat there where they park the school buses now. We had a round, basketball court. And every spring, we would have to get out and sweep it and pick up all the little bitty gravel and rock and everything until we could play basketball. We had ball uniforms. I had sponsors. The stores in Rocky Gap and around would sponsor us enough to buy uniforms. Ours were green and white. The blouses were white, and the shorts were green, and we had numbers. But we had Carroll's Store on some of them, and everybody sponsored somebody, and we had our sponsor on our back. We just had somebody to keep score. We had a blackboard, somebody would bring a blackboard out on legs, and somebody would keep score. We didn't have any cheerleaders. We just had people that hollered and hooted and carried on like they do today. We had a good team. Between Hollybrook and Bland they were both tough. Hollybrook had the Wolf girls, and they were big and rough. And Bland had the Burton girls, A.D. Burton's sisters. And they were big and rough, so it was tough between them two. I think there was about ten teams I can remember. I was sitting in there trying to remember, and I think there was about ten. Oh, yeah, and Rich Creek had one too that we played with. We had a lot of people that would come out and watch us play, and we had a lot of people that would go with us on games. People that wasn't working and could get away, and had a way to go. But, now, all the players went on a school bus. We couldn't go any other way but on a school bus. There was a restaurant on top of East River Mountain that we could stop at. And over in Bland, there was a restaurant over there we could stop, or a store, and get snacks and all. But now when we went to play, we had to go in time to be back when school let out until the buses could run and take the children home. We couldn't stay out no later than 3:00. I've got a picture of all of them of my school team. Anne Bivens, Ethel Waddle, Helen Bowling, Margie Stowers, Nona Turner, Evelyn French, Ellen Kinser, Geneva Stowers, and another girl names Geneva but I can't remember her last name. We didn't have all that many to play but we made it. Ailees Wright was the coach that I remember most. She was from Bland. She is deceased now. One of her girls, a Strock lady, lives over in Bland now. I talked to her a while back. I didn't know she was Ailees' s girl until we was playing softball back in the 60's over there. And she come and said she was Ailees's girl.
My husband played on the Wolf Creek Wolverines, they had uniforms. My husband played shortstop, and his brother played second base, Everette. Up at Round Bottom they played their games, and they had a field on our place, on top of the hill. And then they played some at Rocky Gap, at Chapel down here, played some in Penver, in Narrows, Pembrook, Ripplemead, Hollybrook, Bland. There was about ten teams around here, I think, that played during that time. And they had some good teams. Wolf creek played the New River Rebels one night when they were in this league down here, the New River Rebels won. That was funny that night because the Wolf creek boys had never been under lights. And them balls, when they went up, they didn't know where they were at. They couldn't find them in them lights. It was kindly comical to watch them. They couldn't find the ball to catch it. They got so mad! They had playoffs and eventually championships and they had all-star games. The ones that had the best batting averages, about the middle of the season, they took them and started off with them. And let's say one team was running off with the other one or something like that, they would put the other players in. But if they didn't and it was a close game, they would play the whole game out. And they had some really tough games now I'm a telling you they did.They won the championship one time. They beat everybody. They got in fusses; they didn't get in any fights. The rules were pretty strict and I was official scorekeeper and everything. The ones that umpired knew the game real good. They kept them pretty close to it. We had people that just umpired.
When they were playing up here on the hill one time, they were playing Hollybrook, and Ward Wolfe and Kelly Wolfe were playing. Ward was catching and Kelly was pitching and Elmer and Everette were good at short and second now they were really good together and Ward and Kelly, oh there was a whole bunch of them that played at that time and they couldn't get a ball. It was tied up and they just kept going and going and going and Kelly and Ward, they would jet up and hit one thinking they could get it through second or short and Elmer and Everette one would get it and throw them out. I heard Ward tell Kelly when he was coming out to pitch "If we could get rid of them damned Bailey boys we might get somewhere." And Ward and Kelly was playing over at Rich Creek one time and they run in together and knocked Ward's two front teeth out and everybody ran up and he was over at the spigot washing his mouth out and everybody was fussing saying, "Oh, Ward, you've tore all your teeth out, you broke your teeth out" and he said, "Here's another one" and he reached up and pulled out another one. He had another one, he knocked out three teeth. And another time well it wasn't real funny but we were playing down here at Chapel and it was tied up and one of the players that was playing with us, Junior King, wasn't there that day and it was tied up and must have been the tenth or eleventh inning somewhere along there and he came along, got out, all dressed up, he had been somewhere and they put at him to pinch hit. Well, he took off his coat, undone his tie, rolled up his white shirt sleeves, he had on dress slippers, got up there and hit a home run, and everybody had a ball over that. Him all dressed up and got up there and hit a home run. But we had a lot of fun back then and that was all they played for was to have fun.
The Difference In School
I think about the difference in the school and everything when we went to school. It's so much more modern now, and the kids have got a better show than we had. Now we had good teachers. Now I'm not gonna say that for we had excellent teachers. They made us do our work, and they made us learn it. We didn't go through and not know it. But I think about it a lot of times. All the fun we had. We had a lot of fun. We done our work and everything, but when it come recess or lunch or plays or anything like that, we had a lot of fun doing them. I think it's real good to have sports in high school. I think it gives the children a chance to learn to be sportsmen and to get along with others, even the kids in their own school, besides the kids outside of school. I think it gives them a chance to learn to get along with other children. Even though my legs hurt me now, and I know that's what it is. But I'd play again. I was the first girl that won a medal for athletics at Rocky Gap in 1943, all-around athletic. It made me feel good. And I didn't have any idea that I was going to get it or anything. The only thing, the principal asked me, "Are you coming to graduation tonight?" And I said yes, and he said, "Well, good." And that's all that was said. And when he got up, he said, "I've got a surprise for a girl in here." And when he called me up, he said he was going to award me this athletic medal. I had it, but I don't know what became of it. It was just a little medal about an inch long, but it had Girls Athletic and the year. I don't know what. I left it at home when I got married, and I guess it got lost when Mommy and them moved or something. But it made me feel real good.