Interview with Gaylia Hudgins, 2017 October 20

Material Information

Interview with Gaylia Hudgins, 2017 October 20
Hudgins, Gaylia ( Interviewee )
Munoz-Pardo, Roberto ( Interviewer )
Alvarez, Henry ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Oral history interview


Subjects / Keywords:
Tidewater Main Street Development Project
Rural life
Family history
Country stores
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews


In this interview, Gaylia Hudgins talks about her experiences growing up in Mathews County, Virginia, including her memories of going to school, holidays, and things to do as a child in the area. She discusses her family history in the region as well as her father-in-law's country store in New Point, which had been open since the late nineteenth century. She talks about the role that country stores played in the community and how she operated her father-in-law's country store until 2002. She also talks about her nursing career and volunteer service as a park ranger for the National Elk Refuge and the Grand Teton National Park.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Holding Location:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the submitter.
Resource Identifier:
TMP 154 Gaylia K Hudgins 10-20-2017 ( SPOHP )


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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 19 83 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 50 + years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 7 ,500 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP rec ommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is writte n with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. February 201 8


TMP 154 Interviewee: Gaylia K. Hudgins Interviewer: Roberto Munoz and Henry Alvarez Date: October 20, 2017 M : Hello, my name is Roberto Munoz with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. Today is October 20, 2017, and I am with A: Henry Alvarez. M: And we are interviewing H: Gaylia Hudgins. M: At the library over in A: Mathews Memorial Library. M: the background questions. The first question is if you want to state when and where you were born. H: I w as actually born in Richmond, Virginia, but I have always lived . or my parents lived and I was raised here in Mathews, Virginia. M: Okay. And when was this? H: I was born on March 19, 1940. M: Good, t id they do for a living? H: My mother was A lma Lee Hughes Kline and my father was Clar on Kline. She was born in Mathews also and he was born in Manassas, Virginia on a farm and me to Mathe ws to teach at Cobb s Creek Hi gh School and he met my mother and they were married, and then I was born here in Mathews. M: They were both born in Virginia?


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 2 H: Yes. M: Do you remember anything about your grandparents? H: Yes. My grandfather Kline, John Kline, and grandmother lived in Manassas, and they owned a dairy farm and he was a part time brother and minister That was at that time it was Dixie, Virginia, which is a post off ice up on the Piankatank River. They owned a farm there on the Piankatank River. They raised potatoes, soybeans, also had a daffodil farm there and they also raised they had about six thousand leghorn chickens that they had a poultry farm where they sol d eggs. M: H: Uh, yes. Nettie Lee Hughes, Nettie Lee White Hughes, born in Mathews, Virginia. My gran dmother in Manassas was Nellie K ane Kline. M: Good. You grew up in Mathews County, right, yo u said? H: Right. M: And what was it like growing up here? H: Well, obviously quiet community. There were, back in the [19]40s and before there was a high at Cobb s Creek, one down in New Point and one here. Then, when I was going to school, the high schools were all consolidated to one, to Mathews High School. This would be in the [19]40s. The n, the grade nt, and Lee Jackson I went to Lee Jackson Grade School. And then, w hen we got in the eighth grade we went to high school at the high school in Mathews, one high school.


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 3 M: One school in the whole H: Yeah, one school. It was consolidated at that point. M : Cool. What did you do for fun as a child? H: Well, we would r ide our bikes. I lived actually, at that time, here close to the Mathews village, the small town of Mathews. We played ball, and then as I . also, we fished, we crabbed, we played on the be aches. But then, in high school, I played on the high school team. At that time, back in the [19]50s, they were trying to pay for the lights so all of the churches in the coun ty would have softball leagues. lights. We played in the summer. We had the various church leagues and we played softball. M: As a child, what holidays do you remember? Any Christmas traditions? H: Of course Christmas, yes. Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was a big family time when you got to gather up of course and ate on Thanksgiving Day. And then Christmas was a time when families got together, and they would call them So, y ou would go there and eat and it would be in the home and lots and lots of food. So many pies and cakes A nd several tables y ou know, the first table would be probably older family members and then the children would be in a different area. Then, when those finished eating, then we'd eat. So, t forty people. M: Wow. H: Yeah.


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 4 M: Since we are in October, I have to ask : do you remember anything about Halloween, the pranks or ghost stories that they told you? H: Well, when I was a teenager, then it was safe to go from house to house. Of course, a lot of times you had to drive because the homes were not . a nd also, some of the churches would have a Halloween party there. M: Okay. H: Probably the same that they do now. But it was very safe to go different places, door to come in the kitchen because, even though you might not have known who they precisely were, you knew that they were neighbors or some children from another neighbor. Yeah. A: Actually, I had a question For like the Christmas and your traditions, Thanksgiving, were there any special meals that you guys had or you guys made that were independent to you guys, or anything that was maybe a family tradition at that time, some sort of dish? H: farm, had really good swee t potato pies and pumpkin pies, and they grew most of their food back then. Big gardens, big gardens. Yeah. M: You talked about your school here. What was it like for you to go to school? Did you enjoy it? Did you have a particular topic that you like d mor e than others? H: Well, I went to Mathews High School. It was a big time to go to the ball games and at night, Friday night, to go to the football games. And then, in the winter, it was basketball. We all . at the time, the high school had an auditoriu m, was the same as the basketball court. So, the court was, of course, a big basketball


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 5 but you could walk around it a nd all of the classrooms had a door onto that. So, w e would come out and when they would change classes you al l went counter clockwise around. A nd you got there early because you wanted to walk around with your friends around and around. [Laughter] M: H: Yeah. And after school, of course you usually had those of us that participated in sports had practice and so forth. Then, after practice, or practicing, you'd come here to the village, to Mathews Courthouse is what we called it and still call it that. There were two drugs Drugstor e and Hudgins' Drugs tore, no relation to me. My maiden name was Kline. They had a soda fountain there and booths, and teenagers would congregate there and get milkshakes or a chocolate soda or probably I guess they had sandwiches, too. Usually it was ice cream cones or whatever. Both of those drug stores had that and both of those drug stores are still open. No w, one of them sells ice cream restaurant. The other one is open as a pharmacy. M: Okay Do you remember any of your teachers or maybe something you learned from one of them? Maybe a special teacher we all have. H: Well, yeah. In fact, I saw one of my teachers at Food Lion a couple days ago, my summers volunteering for


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 6 National Park So, I spen d three months in Jackson, Wyoming. So, I have a couple teachers that really enjoy seeing my pictures. A nd I have to say beca seven so, I would feel pretty confident that my teacher is up in her nineties now. So, t hat is super interesting to me, because she enjoys seeing these places through my pictures. Yea h, and I have another teacher that goes to church with me and s and her vision is becomi ng impaired and is not driving. So, occasionally, I try to take her out for lunch and do something. Favorite classes . w ell, I went to nursing school. I have a B.S. in nursing, so I went to Bridgewater College for one year and then I went to MCV, which is now VCU, or Virginia Commonwealth University. So, I have my B.S. in nursing. So, science courses were always of interest to me. M: Do you remember the name of those te achers that you had made reference to, their names? H: Yeah. Joyce Jenkins Hudgins. She married a Hudgins. Again, no relation to my husband. And then, also, Mildred Puller. When she taught me, her last name was Puller. She married Ellis Hudgins, who's no r elation. [Laughter] M: Wow. H: . so, . named Hudgins. So, those are two. Then, also, which was ki nd of interesting to me through the years, when I came back after I went to college and came back


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 7 and then settled here with my husband, who wa s a doctor, a general practice doctor here T hrough the years that I ha ve worked in the nursing home and hospital that I actually took care of some of my teachers as patients. M: H: Yeah, yeah. M: H: 1958. M: Okay. And after that, you went straight to college? H: Yes. M: Good. Then, you said that you were a nurse at a hospice or something? H: Uh, yes. After I graduated from Medical College of Virginia, when my husband was interning we were married then a e got married after I graduated. We were in Norfolk, Virginia where he did his internship an d I taught one year of nursing there. Then, he was in the a rmy and went to Vietnam as a doctor in Vietnam. I worked. When he came back, I worked at an emergency room in El Paso, Texas part time. Then, when we came back to Mathews and came here and became p ermanent residents again, he was a general practice physician here of family medicine. And I worked some at the nursing home part time and then, when my children were little, I worked part time at the local hospital, which is in Gloucester, Virginia, about ten miles away. I worked on the med surg unit there. M: H: Then, my husband was in private practice himself only. I was the office manager and also the nurse there in his practice until he retired.


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 8 M: Great. H: We were married in 1961. M: 1961. And how did you meet? H: We went to high school together. M: service a nd everything, so you just stayed in touch after high school? H: Yeah, we both went to college. He went to Virginia Military Institute and I went to Bridgewater College and then Medical College of Virginia. After he graduated, we got married, my junior year. M: Do you have any children? H: Yes, two. M: And so, what are their names and ages, please? H: Okay, my daughter is Baneen DeLucas and she l ives in Harrisonburg, Virginia and s he has two children. My son is Douglas Hudgins and he lives in Blacksburg, for an environmental engineering firm. He has one child, Zachary Hudgins. M: H: Yes. M: Okay, good. Did you get involved besides your work, which was already like helping out the community? Do you have any other community activities or H: Well, now, I spend my summers hike and I try to hike at least three hundred miles every summer in Jackson Hole


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 9 in the Tetons. So, I v olunteer for the National Elk Refuge and I volunteer at the visitor center in Jackson Hole in town M: What do they do the National Elk Refuge? H: five thousand acres and we have a visitor center there and in town. We see fifteen hundred to two thousand people a day. So, people how and where and where to go in Yellowstone and Grand Teton where to hike, any kind of questions they want. And then, o ne day a week I volunteer for the Grand Teton National Park and I lead some hikes, do some roving hikes, give small talks about the various animals and where to hike, the natural history of Grand Teton National Park. M: Wow t A: How did you get involved with those parks? H: Because I like to hike and my husband and I vacationed out there and we decided . because he had to sell his practice when he became ill in 2002 And then, we kept going out there and started volunteering out there. It was a way to be out there and hike in th e mountains. Then, he died in 2007. M: stores. Do you remember going to any country stores as a child? H: I do, yeah. Actually, the country stores here in Mathews, most all of them and there were lots of them had a post office in them So, I do remember going as a child, going with mother to buy groceries T here was probably an A&P grocery store here in Mathews. There, of course, were no Walmarts or big chain grocery


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 10 store s. But b ack in the days actually, I r emember as a child going to them, yes, with my mother. M: Cool. Is that a list of them? H: M: t hat helps us out. H: M: Of course. H: These were country stores and they also had a post office in them, and s ome of these post offices are still active. The one that I know best, because my father in law w as the owner and was there for . a nyway, the store was started, I think, about 1879 and it became a post office at the same time. So, m y father in law his last name was Hudgins and his grandfather worked in it, or owned the store, and was postmaster, then his father and then my father in law. So, he was a postmaster and worked in the store for forty some years. M: Your father in law? H: My father in law. And then, a fter he died he died in 2000 I ran the store for two years. M: And which one is that one? H: That was New Point. But I will give you a list, I'll name the other stores and post offices Susan Post Office, Shadow, Bavon, Laban Port Haywood, Beaverlett Miles, Mobjack, Foster, Onemo Onemo is when th ey were naming this post office, they said, One mo. So, it was called Onemo Gwynn 's Island, Grimstead


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 11 both of those are on the island Soles, Hallieford, Blakes, and Redart. Like I say, I know all of them were, but there were probably a few more. But a ll of those were country stores and a post offic e. As I remember, the stores and the post office was in it Usually, the owner of the store was the postmaster. Now, my father in law was sworn in b y Harry Truman to be the postmaster in 1945. His father, I.P., or Irving P. Hudgins, was appointed by Wood row Wilson in 1914. M: Wow. A: Wow. H: So, that goes back quite a ways. M: H: M: still New Point? Okay. H: in law owned. B ut when my hus band and I inherited it in 2000, when he died, we sold the business to someone else and the real estate. The post office is still i n operation, but the store is closed. M: Okay. When the store was really selling, what did they sell, like general items or ? H: Well, b ack when I was runni ng it in 2000 it was general merchandise, a lot of groceries, meat fresh chicken s beef, bologna. They had a big round of cheese with the black waxy covering and you sliced off a chunk and weighed it and bought it. That store then, when I was running it i n 2000, we sold a lot. There was


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 12 a little shoe department in it, and we sold lots of shoes Docksiders and a lot of familiar brands. They sold t shirts, pants, some blue jeans, working pants. The waterme n, or the fi sherme n, in the area would come there and buy all of their supplies : rope, nets, all kinds of wire for fishing, and also to make crab pots. And can read to you how much some of the things were back in M: I would love for you to do that. H: Would that be okay? M: H: This is an article that was in the local newspaper back in the [19]70s, I think, [19]79. Anyway, this was what was listed in there that was for sale back in the early days of the s tore. It says his grandfather. The store was open and the ledger was 1896. So, t e nned a script list of the turn of the century sales. A b room was $0.20 A pair of shoes, $1.30. Two pounds of lard, $0.16. A half a pound of candy, $0.05. Ten yards of calico, $0.50. So, y ard goods and harnesses and all kinds of things for the farm were sold in his time. A: Was there anything that your father in law sol d in the country store that may be separated him from the other ones? Like, did the waterman buy there? H: He sold yes h is country store sold everything that a waterman would need to . pound ne ts, all kinds of wire, all of the hardware that you needed for the oystermen, the fishermen, the pound net fisherme n, the haul seine or the gill net,


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 13 anything that you wanted . paint that you painted on the bottom of your boats when you hauled them up. A ll kinds of paint T he cheek in the tar, everyt hing that they needed for that. A ll of the equipment. A lot of folks back then and they still do make crab pots. So, a ll of the equipment T he little rings that you do and the . one thing that he did back . h e realized an d many of the waterman realized, that the crab pots that they made to catch the blue crab in were rusting out. You had to make all new pots every year because they were just that rusty, having them in saltwater all the time. So, h e contacted Keystone Wire Company in Illinois and they came down, and he had seen somewhere or heard somewhere that you could coat wire. So, he had these folks come down from Illinois and he helped them design, or configure, some kind of wire that they cou ld put a coating on that it would not oxidize with the salt in the water and rust out. So, h e got the franchise from up Maryland all the way down to North Carolina. A: So, he put those into his stores? H: So, he sold the wire. So, there were tractor traile r loads, or train loads, of wire that never came to New Point, but he was selling it. A: M: Did the store have a gas station? I see a Gulf sign there. So, it had a gas station in it? H: It did then. M: And did most of them have gas stati ons when they were open?


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 14 H: and country stores see this one tanks. M: Matthews County: Then and Now by Janice C. Vogel H: pictorial book mostly with a small synopsis under each picture of the historic Mathews. M: T hanks for sharing it with us. First of all, before I forget, you said you started running the store in the year 2000, right? So, how long did you run it? H: Two years Almost two years. I sold it. M: You sold it in 2002? And you sold it the government so t hey could make the post office or just someone else? H: No, I sold it to a local person. M: Do you remember any stories you wanna share with us or memories of the store per se when you were there? H: Well, there was a campground down the road, which probably was started back in the [19]70s or so. One thing that I think, especially not now, but years ago, back from when the stores originated, you could buy there at most of these country stores what you So, t here were no big grocery stores. So, you went to the little store down the street. It may be that if for some groceries. Yeah, that happened a lot through the years or maybe something out of your garden you could trade for coffee or something, vanilla


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 15 flavor ing something like that. But t he country store, through the years I think, was a real . it was before telephones in many cases. It was kind of a gathering place for the local folks. The men would come there at night, because most of And, a fter the men had dinner or whatever, th ey would walk, or in many cases, I guess before automobiles, they wo uld just ride the mule up or whatever, and sit around the wood stove and talk about how many fish they caught that day or crabs or what was just going on. So, i t was kind of a community gathering place where you exchanged thoughts. Maybe not quite like Fox News, but you got a lot of news. M: Probably the news was more truthful than the ones [Laughter] H: It was kind of a Cracker Barrel philosophy, I guess there around the wood stove. It was a place where the men went and chatted and discussed whatever was going on back then. So, i t was a real place for communication and information. they did. But those guys would still go in the ones that had retired and we re no longer fishin g they really looked forward to going up there and chatting. M: Before the years of de segregation, did B lack and W hite residents shop at the same stores or were ? H: M m hm. M: They did?


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 16 H: M m hm. They got their mail there I mean, the post office. This was before any rural delivery. You came there and had a post office box or they handed you the mail. Yeah. M: Okay. A: Was that all country stores or were some segregated and ot hers desegregated at that time, or w as it just ? H: During my recollection, n door, you sold them whatever they needed, and they got their mail there. There M: that you if you wanted to share some of these statements, we could maybe read the titles H: Also, like at my father in that went out and would stay for a week or more, they would just send their list of food that they needed to what they call grubbing, grub up for the kitchen on the boats. My father in law would fill out the list and then either take it to the boats, and he delivered a lot of also kind of deliver messages to whoever needed a message left there. So, h e would know everybody and most all of these people who ran the country stores would know everybody in the community, knew everybody there at the churches. Like I say, it was an information center. A: Center of the community.


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 17 H: Yeah. A lot of the food, a lot of the stuff came off the steamer and would come in barrels or big sacks. Like, flour would be three dollars a barrel. Loose tea, loose coffee. Another thing that my father in law did, he would take orders for hams and he would salt down about three hundred hams in the back room and peo ple would buy them at Christmas time. You'd buy loose ca ndy, loose chocolate covered candy that came in big containers and you'd trying to think of some other things. This store this is in the book called History and Progress of Mathews, Virginia put out by the Mathews County Histor ical Society and there was an article in this book about New Point Store, past and present. It goes on to talk about how it was back then that i t had been started in 1879 and so forth. I don't know what else you might need to know. This is just a bunch o f letterheads that were on some of the . some were letterheads, bu t they were invoices, 1894, October 31 and how much stuff was. You could also buy salt fish that were salted down in a barrel. So, i t was interesting to me to see how decorative these i nvoices were. M: Yeah, it looks like a bill, like a dollar bill or something. H: Yeah, it was really a work of art. M: It was. H: This is 1895. Yeah. So, a box of twenty five cent candy at $1.63 for the whole box and they would sell it for six cent s a pound. One sack of fine salt for a dollar t hat sack is probably fifty pound s Hominy. So, i just really interesting how things came in the bulk and they would bag it up for you. I still have seen just last


TMP 154 ; Hudgins ; Page 18 year I go to Cook City, Wyoming t a historic store there, a country store, M: H: And also cheese like that. Yeah. M: Well, thank you so much for giving this time to us and so many great stories. It has b een a pleasure for us. We wanted to thank you. H: M: Have a great day. H: Okay. Thank you. [ End of interview ] Transcribed by: Mackenzie Goode, February 8, 2018 Audit e dited by: Patrick Daglaris, May 11, 2018 Final edited by: Patrick Daglaris, May 11, 2018