Interview with Susan Powell, Beverley Beer, and Brenda Winder Whiteman, 2014 July 7

Material Information

Interview with Susan Powell, Beverley Beer, and Brenda Winder Whiteman, 2014 July 7
Powell, Susan ( Interviewee )
Beer, Beverley ( Interviewee )
Whiteman, Brenda Winder ( Interviewee )
Taylor, Jessica ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Oral history interview


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


Susan Powell, Beverley, and Brenda Whiteman talk about their family histories from Mathews County, spanning back multiple generations. They discuss the boatbuilding industry in the area and the importance of owning land. They also talk about their father’s military experience with the Merchant Marines and about their experiences as children growing up in the county. They discuss the many Christmas feasts that they would attend, general stores, and how the county has changed over time.
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
TMP 028 Susan Powell et al 7-5-2014 ( 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 Digital Humanities Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 35 2 846 1983 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 acc ounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 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, S POHP recommends 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. Suggested corrections to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history int erview 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 i s written 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 final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and form at 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 abo ut SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. May 2015


TMP 028 Interviewees: Susan Powell et al Interviewer: Jessica Taylor Date of Interview: July 7, 2014 T: This is Jessica Taylor interviewing Susan Powell, Beverly [inaudible] and Brenda Winder Whiteman on July 5, 2014 at 6:00 PM in Mathews County, Virginia at Hallieford. P: T: you please tell me your date of birth? W: My date of birth is June 23, 1940. T: And where were you born? W: I was born in Norfolk, Virginia. T: W: was born October 31, 1910. And my d addy was born in March . I think it was March 21, 1905, and his name was Ernest Eldridge Winder. T: Okay, and what did they do for a living? W: My daddy was the captain of a tugboat for the C&O Railroad. And my moth er did not work when we were children, but she worked later as a secretary for many five of a massive heart attack. T: Wow. Did you have any siblings? W: Me, myself? Do I have siblings? Yes, I have three children and seven grandchildren. P: Your sibling. W: Oh, my siblings. Oh, my sister, yeah.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 2 T: Okay, so you have one sibling. W: I have one sister named Nina Leigh Winder. That was her maiden name. T: And what is your connection to Mathews, Virginia? W: My grandpare nts, my great was built in 1776. Our great great grandparents, our great grandparents, our grandparents, my mother, and my sister and I were all married in the same church. So, five generations. T: Wow. So w hat is that connection like for you with Mathews Baptist Church, you said? W: well, whenever we were here, we were always going there to church since I was a child. T: Okay, and how has it changed over time? W: The church? T: Yeah. W: anymore, but the church still looks the same, even on the inside and everything else: the beautiful stained glass windows and what have you. My granddaddy, he had a beautiful tenor voice. He sang in the choir for many, many years. B: I think they built a youth center a number of years ago. W: Yeah, they sure did. T: What were services like when you were a child? W: a lot


TMP 028; Powell; Page 3 here; I live in Yorktown and I go to my own church. But in growing up, we always went to church whenever we were over here all my life. Even back as a small child, I can remember. And my mother was married there in 1935 in December, and she made her own wedding dress, which was crushed green velvet. B: [Laughter] I have a picture. W: Yeah, crushed green velvet, and she wore a crushed green v elvet hat. My father gave her four dozen long stem American Beauty roses tied with a silver bow. [Laughter] When Mother all you could see was her head and her knees because the whole front of her was covered with four dozen roses. B: ve seen the pictures. [Laughter] W: S: W: And what have you. My mother died in September of 2000, and she lacked like twenty eight days of being ninety when she died. It sounds cr azy, but my mother made Christmas ornaments for her grandchildren every year of their life for twenty years. five years old now, and she still has the first Christmas ornament that her grandmother made her when she was born. But my favorites are: Mother had material left from her wedding dress and the bow that was on her flowers, and she made ornaments out of them. So when the bow from her flowers. Just memories, you know? T: Yeah. Absolutely. So did your mother grow up in Mathews?


TMP 028; Powell; Page 4 W: original house was torn down. Our cottage and this cottage is sitting where the barny ard used to be. T: Do you remember the house that was there that your mother grew up in? W: Mm hm. T: When was it torn down? W: How many years ago? B: It was three or four years ago. March 2010. I was recovering from my foot surgery, and I remember you ca W: Yeah. My husband and I turned that corner B: I cried. [Laughter] W: torn down. B: We have so many memories in that old house. W: Yeah, a for my wedding and everything was there. T: So can you tell me a little bit about W: The house? T: Yeah. W: Back when I was a child, there was no bathroom. You had to come up here to the barnyard to use the bathroom; there was a shed, a outhouse up here bother about the barnyard b ecause Granddaddy had a horse and a cow and the


TMP 028; Powell; Page 5 then run to the outhouse. P: T: Oh, there it is! W: T: B: Okay! P: Sure. T: So how old was it at the time it was demolished? W: Oh, over P: When they put it up for sale, it said on the internet 1829. old. W: It was built when Granddaddy was B: W: Granddaddy always told me that when his daddy was buildin g that house, that he have of what Granddaddy said about it. He was a child when his father built it. So B: I think there was three sections, m aybe. W: Yeah. B: Because I went over there when nobody was there, and grabbed a couple bricks. [Laughter]


TMP 028; Powell; Page 6 W: Yeah, yeah I know. Yeah. We got some bricks for you to put on your flagpole. B: And oldest, original brick and then there was another section and then another section. T: Hm. Interesting. P: 1880s. W: I think so, too. P: W: P: W: I remember him saying he had to run back and forth with a tin can to put nails in, my memory of what Granddaddy said. true or not. B: T: Did your mother or her parents ever talk anything else about expanding the house or maintaining it? W: Never did. I mean, I was at least ten, twelve years old before we ever even had running water. And my gr andfather oystered in the winter, farmed in the summer, and made oyster boats and sailboats in between. T: Did the estate have a name at all? W:


TMP 028; Powell; Page 7 B: it for sale when the owners bought it, they said, Queen Hill Estates or something like that. W: Right, and I never heard it. T: So they gave it a name. W: They gave it a name. Somebody gave it a name not us. B: I think a realtor did. T: Why did they deci de to demolish it, do you know? W: Because he built that gorgeous brick home over there on the other side of our cottage. B: It was a fire hazard. W: Yes. B: Sad to say. P: Indeed, for a number of years. B: The electrical work. It was very bad. W: It needed plumbing work. It had a lot of termites, mildew. B: In the walls. W: It was just very, very old. He bought the property and knocked it down and built that gorgeous home over there. T: What do you remember about the interior of the house? B: Oka y. There was the door facing the road . and you came in and there was a W: A home.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 8 B: A staircase. Well yeah, a foyer, a hall that went through to the other side, to the porch. W: Porch on the front. On the creek side. B: On the creek side. To the right of that hall was a staircase that kinda went up and then around. Then you had two bedrooms and a bathroom up there. W: Three bedrooms. B: P: No bathrooms. W: No bathrooms. B: P: After the house was sold the first time. B: Then you came in that front door, to the right was a bedroom on the floor. To the left was . glass French doors. W: Right, on both sides. It was like a dou ble living room: a back living room and a front living room. And the hall was between the two and the staircase went up the stairs. P: I think the thing I remember most about the house was, when you walked in the front door, Grandma had beautiful blue hyd rangea bushes on either side. W: Yes, she did. B: It was gorgeous. P: When you opened the front door, the porch was facing the water, so you could see the water and then you just felt the air coming through the breeze from the creek. But then you had to wa lk to the left to what was the living room, and they


TMP 028; Powell; Page 9 it was some type of oil stove in the living room, and then you walked through the doorway into a really large kitchen. W: Huge. P: And it had a huge eating area, and I remember my grandmother primarily eventually got one W: Yeah, she used it some, but she preferred the wood stove. P: She liked cooking on the wood stove, and I just remember her fixing corn cakes and B: Big, square biscuits. P: Yeah, she was a really good cook. And she had a place where I would sit in the kitchen a little red stool and she had a . what do you call that? A kitchen cabinet where the top of it rolls up an d you have your flour dispenser. You W: P: Yes, and she had like a little shelf that wou ld pull out, and so she used that to W: To make bread. P: To cook on, and I can remember her putting wood in the stove to keep it hot. And when they finally did get a bathroom, the bathroom was actually off of the kitchen. So you had to walk through the k itchen to get to the bathroom. She always, whenever she cooked crabs or whatever, there was a big pot on the


TMP 028; Powell; Page 10 wood stove, and you could hear them in there scra tching around trying to get out [Laughter], u ntil they kicked the bucket. B: Wha t a torturous thing for a crab. W: it to a hard boil, and crack her eggs in the water. And egg. B: Really? My mom did that. W: Uh huh. T: Do you know why? W: B: I remember seeing my mother do that in Richmond, cook an egg like that. W: Yeah, Granddaddy played the harmonica. You remember that. P: Mm hm. B: I remember his harmonica. W: He used to love to play the harmonica. I also remember he had that metal pot that he used to pop popc orn in. P: W: stand there and shake it and it would pop in that metal pot. B: I remember somebody telling me


TMP 028; Powell; Page 11 W: This was before it was made like it is now, where you you had got your own He grew popcorn. B: W: He also had a huge strawberry bed. P: I remember that. W: T hat was good. They were good strawberries, too. P: And figs. W: Fig trees that went all the way down both sides of the lane. P: Black walnut tree in the front yard. T: The strawberries and figs were they for sale or were they for the family? W: No. For t he family. P: My dad said that when he was a boy, he would take the crops that they grew and he told me that he did that. And he remembers the ice truck comin a boy, bringing a big cake of ice to keep things cold. T: Did he ever tell you about the people that he sold stuff to or the guy that brought ice? P: remember where they they had an icebox where they put the ice in the icebox to keep things cold before you had an electric refrigerator. W: That was before electricity. B: I also heard the story where Granddaddy his dessert was butter dipped in sugar.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 12 W: That wa s the last thing he ever put in his mouth at every meal. [Laughter] B: That was his dessert. W: That was his dessert, always. B: And they liked to cook. Nutritionists would probably have a fit now. He liked to have fried fish, fried spot with bacon greas W: B: And he lived to be eighty six years old. [Laughter] P: Another funny story is when the first pizza place came around or something, he said, yeah, they got something called Pie za out there now. W: Pie za. He di [Laughter] P: So he was not familiar with anything like that. He was all about crabs and oysters. W: said the word calm in his entire life. It was cam. B: Really? W: heard him ever say the word calm in his entire life. P: living, and one of his bo ats was this one right here: the Lethe and the Carpathia. And he called it Lethe


TMP 028; Powell; Page 13 [Laughter] W: This is before he married her. P: why he called it the Lethe B: And the Carpathia is what rescued some of the people from the Titanic T: Right! I was just thinking that! P: Carpathia T: Wow. So who did he buy the boats from, do you know? P: T: He built them himself? P: He built these himself. W: sailboats; he sold skiffs that he built. B: I rem had really big, knotty hands because he worked with his hands so much. T: W: That was the sailboat he built for their daddy. B: bly in the early [19]40s. P: He was probably sixteen, seventeen. T: to sort of, like, the craftsmanship aspect. I did want to ask if you have noticed other


TMP 028; Powell; Page 14 houses falling by the wayside, falling into disrepair, or being demolished in your lifetimes? W: B: looking houses. W: In Mathews. B: W: It really is. B: W: B: I cried when their house was torn down. P: I think a lot of them that have been on the waterfront, I think some people have been able rfront property, there have been people from other areas who have come in to live here, to retire, or whatever and have remodeled and fixed them up. But if you even go just around the Hallieford area just this little small community back here you can see a the water, but are just modest homes, and they are overgrown with weeds and B: It takes a lot of money to keep up with an old home. W: You better believe it. T: Are there any specific ones that maybe you visited as far as even, like, churches, other buildings, sto res go that have kind of fallen by the wayside? B: Mm mm.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 15 T: Okay. P: The W.E. Broaddus the store where the post office is, that used to be a store. I the one that I remember, but I think that there was a Brooks Store, even farther down Hallieford Road, that I rememb any others when you were younger W: Earl and Carlisle Lewis that was their grandparents. Guy Lewis married Virginia, who was and father in lived above the store their entire lives. T: Do you remember anything specific about the interior or the exterior o f the store? W: what have you. The whole bottom floor, he had a wood counter t hat went all the way around the outside in, and they had the shelving built on the wall behind it where they kept all the goods that they sold and what have you. That was before they had grocery stores over here. B: Mm hm. The Broaddus Store up there W: R ight. Same thing. B: It was similar, where you walked in the door and there was a long wooden counter, and there were things behind there, and a candy place because we would get a quarter and you could get a lot of candy for a quarter! [Laughter]


TMP 028; Powell; Page 16 P: We al ways ran up there to get our brown bags full of candy. B: W: I did the same thing. P: There was a lot of fun memories about that. B: And the post office was also there, too, but it was a store as well as a post office. T: We re the stores or post offices used socially? B: guess, meet up with people. But you probably ran into yo ur neighbors all the time there, sit there and chew the fat for five minutes. [Laughter] W: T: Oh, no, not like that. As in, a congregating space. B: W: I remember electricity. They had a potbelly stove in the floor. Used to be. T: Last question about this house co W: Not the construction of the house, but most of the furniture in that house was built by our grandfather. T: Oh, really? W: He built his own furniture. B: He built that right there.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 17 W: He built that; he built that rocker over there. B : Yeah, that rocking chair is probably, too. W: Yeah, he built that. B : And then this was an ol d sewing machine stand. P: Singer flipped down B: He built this dining room table or the kitchen table right here. W: This was the kitchen table in their house. T: So what does it mean to be a landowner or a homeowner in Mathews? Is there something special that that entails? P: from the point right over there if you look out the window behind you, the point all the way out there, all the way to here, to the creek on over there, belonged to our gran dfather and his sister B: His sister, because his sister had a house over there. P: And they inherited the land from their father, and in the genealogical research through l


TMP 028; Powell; Page 18 to tell, going back to probably right around 1800. T: So what does that mean to you? Why did you choose to pursue that as a vocation? P: raised their families. W: They worked hard. P: Just, I want personal stories. I want to know what they did and things about how they lived. they called it the Old Baptist Church instead of Mathews Baptist Church. Then, even some of the extended family, about being in the war: W.P. Lewis, Jr., our father, graduated from Mathews High School in 1943, and he turned sixteen on August 30, 1943 and left to go to sea in the Merchant Marines. I ha ve a little New Testament Bible that his mother gave him when he went to sea. I mean, the war at that time was in its height, preparing for D Day, and in it she wrote, God bless and protect my boy. He can remember seeing German subs. His ships went up and down the coast from Virginia, North Carolina up to Maine. His uncle was the first person from Mathews County killed. He was a captain of a merchant ship and his ship was torpedoed off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He and all of his shipmates were lost found that my great grandfather, George Lewis, had a brother whose name was


TMP 028; Powell; Page 19 Thomas Lewis. They were orpha ned in the mid 1850s, and I think probably for economic reasons, Thomas Lewis this was such an area that was connected people traveled, was up and down the Bay. We think prob ably for economic reasons, maybe, Thomas Lewis wound up serving for the Union. But he came soldier in the 140 th New York Infantry. And all of that is documented in his pensi whatever. And we found out from a Civil War historian that that was not uncommon for soldiers in the Union to pay someone to do their service for them. Maybe you know about that. But anyway, that was just one of the things that I found out that I thought was really interesting. I think, here we are today, and yesterday I was watching my cousins her little grandchildren jumping off the swam in the waters around here? And all extensions of the Lewis f amily are still doing that today, which I think is pretty cool. [Laughter] T: Yeah. B: We have a lot of rich memories here as children, and then my sister and I I twenties now, and we have both said, the best thing we can do is provide fun, special memories as family and good times down here. And they love it.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 20 P: I think that the generation of their parents like mother and my father they learned the appreciation for lan d and for what it took to just keep everything going every day. I feel like, because of their values, we learned that. So, they instilled in all of us an appreciation for what our ancestors have done for a couple hundred years. B: We are very blessed beca use this has been coming down through the generations to us. T: B: It is. T: This is totally different: you mentioned that your dad or your grandfather played harmonica? W: Their grandfather. T: Did he play popular things, or did he pl ay something specific that he enjoyed? W: P: I have no idea. I just remember him watching Porter Wagoner [Laughter] in the [19]60s on TV. W: Right. Yeah, I was already married. P: ayed little catchy, little harmonica tunes. I suppose. W: aroun d the kitchen dancing to his harmonica music. B: I always wondered what happened to his harmonica.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 21 W: I have no kitchen above that B: I have his old razors in a box up there. W: Oh, yeah. I can tell you a story about that. I was married in 1960, and my husband and I, we came over here. It was before I had children, and we came over here for the weekend. My husband left his razor at home. So we get up the next morning and he had st ubble; my husband had a heavy beard. He wanted to use mine, Bob! Takes him in the bathroom and takes a straight razor and a razor strap and sharpens it up and hands it to him. And my husband just stood there could cut his throat with it. [Laughter] W: It was that sharp. You just scraped them off. Straight razor. P: nything. W: P: B: I reme mber Grandma and Granddaddy having a chamber pot under their bed. [Laughter] W: Absolutely. Sure, sure. B: I think I remember that.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 22 T: Wow. Did they empty at night? That kind of thing? W: Always carried it up with you at night and you got up and you carr ied it down in the morning and emptied it. Yes. B: I remember that, though. I remember it being under the bed. W: Oh, y es. Yeah. [Laughter] B: I remember Dad saying something about a heated block or a heated brick to keep his feet warm. P: At night. Y ou would put it under the covers. W: Right, and they used to do the same thing with a heated brick in the cars back then. Automobiles back then did not have heaters in them. And they would heat feet and everything to keep your feet from freezing inside of the car. [Laughter] W: Can you imagine? No. That was back in Model A days. T: Before I go back in time, it seems like you have specific memories of your wedding day, and I wanted to ask W: Oh, my wedding day? T: If you could walk me through it. W: where she was born an d raised, and what have you. And I left the house my father had died at forty five of a massive heart attack, so my granddaddy gave


TMP 028; Powell; Page 23 My wedding dress had a ten tier hoop on it. I had ten tiers, starting from my waist going down. I weighed ninety six pounds, and to get in the car, they had to take my hoop. It was all up in the back window; it was coming out of the windows on both s ides of the car. And Granddaddy and W.P. was driving, a nd they talked about the newest tractor B: Tractor! [Laughter] You told me that story. W: John Deere tractor that had just come on the market, all the way to the church. my sister and a girlfriend and my cousin were my attendants, and what have you. They wore royal b lue, a real deep royal blue. We get out at the church, and my scrambling in front of the church t rying to find the wedding band, and when it came time to go into the wedding, we had to go through with it. So we were just gonna leave it and find it after the wedding, and at the last minute, one of the bridesmaids saw his wedding band in the grass. So w e got it just before we [Laughter] T: Okay. Did you go on vacation for your honeymoon or did you stay here? W: We went to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania for a week. We stayed in a place called Split Rock Lodge. We were married in September, and it was cold, and we had a cabin in the woods with a fireplace, and they had a big main lodge


TMP 028; Powell; Page 24 and what have you. In the day, it was warm enough to go swimming in a bathing suit; at night, it w mountains. We were there in September, but in December and January they used to take the people who came to stay there on sleigh rides in the snow with ause I mean, [19]60s: horses were pretty obsolete then. But still. [Laughter] That was something that they did. T: I did want to ask about that. Were you married in the same church? B: No, I was not married. I live in Roanoke now. So, I just used to come here as a child with my father and mother. Once my father got out of the Merchant Marines he went in in September of 1943; he had just turned seventeen years old and went on a ship. And he was in for four years, and then after he got out of the Merchant Ma rines he went to Richmond and went to business school, met my mother at Westhampton College of University of Richmond, and they settled there after they were married in 1950. But he continued to come here the rest of his life, and our whole across the creek in the Smithers Cemetery. T: Wow. B: Yeah. Granddaddy purchased a huge family plot way back in the day. W: Yes, he did. Twenty four plots? B: W: T: Oh, wow. B: And then my dad and my mother.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 25 T: Look at those cheeks! B: I know it. He was wonderful, wonderful people. T: She looks like Emma Ston e. B: Ha ha! T: W : She was beautiful. B: sister. She was fourteen, and that was her mother, which was our grandmother at the old home place over there. W: And their mother, now, when they were married in 1950 her mother and daddy were their mother had that long hair, and you know how she curled it? Socks. She had every color sock in the rainbow on her head. She would tie it at the e nd what kept all that pretty curl. T: Wow. So what did your parents and grandparents tel l you about growing up in Mathews? P: Oh, my goodness. Where do you want to start? W: back B: father as a boy. W:


TMP 028; Powell; Page 26 so they could see to ice skate. Just like you said, if you were a beginner, you would use a kitchen chair, slide on the ice and learn how and what have you. I was an excellent ice skater and she had a partner and they used to perform. And the other thi ng that I never knew about my mother, they say Momma was a P: My dad, to reconfirm what Brenda said, they would drive their cars everybody next to you, you knew who lived on the other side of the creek. They would shine the headlights on the creek, and whenever he said her remembered they did oyster roasts in the fall and ice skated. But everybody knew everybody. Dad always said Mathews Court house was the place to go on a Saturday night W: P: I wrote down a few notes about that. He would talk about on Saturday nights, everybody would go to the Courthouse. He said he could go to the Court house sometimes on Saturday afternoons he was a boy in the [19]30s and he could go to the movies, I think, for maybe a nickel or a dime. His cousin worked at the drugstore, and he said he remembers going and buying an ice cream cone from him at the Hudgins W: Back then. P: You could eat there. His cousin had sold ice cream there. He said he used an ice cr eam scoop not like you see now a round one with little scoops but he said it was almost lik


TMP 028; Powell; Page 27 scooped the ice cream next shovel full and then about like that. But the ice cream was at least two or three times higher than the cone. [Laughter] He said it was really nice having your cousin be the one to scoop the ice cream because he always got a really good portion. [Laughter] But he said the Courthouse during the [19]30s, was when he was a boy, that he said it was wall to meet everybody W: P : they call even the, not the actual courthouse where legal proceedings took place, but T: Did they tell you anything about school? P: Yes. My father said when he first started school, he had to walk from his home up Hallieford Road but when you past where the post office is now, I believe it was a one there. But I think he said that he went to first and second grade there. It was just they had every grade first through sixth. There was no kindergarten. But he said the room wa s cold in the wintertime and he had to walk. Yeah, we always got the, I had to walk to school.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 28 B: He always said, I walked five miles to school in a blizzard with the wind blowing in your face. [Laughter] P: But he talked about packing his lunch and my grandmother would give him a biscuit with cheese on it or something, and he said they had a wood stove. And he would take his lunch in a bucket, and a piece of leftover chicken or whatever happened to be left over from supper the night before. He said he l iked to take his biscuit and put it on the wood stove, because then it would make the cheese melt and it would be real warm and toasty. Yeah, I just remember him talking about going to the Hallieford School. W: P: it was too far. Then, I guess he stayed at Cobbs Creek, and then when he went to Mathews High school and high school. I guessing, he probably went to Mathews High School, which at that time was one building. Now there are several building s. T: What about your grandparents? Did they ever talk about school? P: T: ghost stories or stories about Mathews? Specificall y, does Old House Woods ring a bell at all? P: No.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 29 W: Mm mm. T: Okay. That house was never haunted. W: No. B: No. P: Not that I know of. T: Okay. [Laughter] Absolutely not. P: T: All right. Just gotta ask. B: thought was funny, a story that my dad told me about when Ni na and Brenda were younger. And just to go to show what people in the country will do, it was Christmastime, and I think your uncle was Leslie or who it was they took a cow and put bells on the cow. W: We were just talking about this this week! B: This was before I was born and they were small, but my dad remembers they were young and the cow had jingle bells and they were real quiet, and walked the cow across the front yard. An d N i na and Brenda looked out and saw the brown and white spots and heard the jingles bells, and it made them think that Santa was coming. They did that to make them go to bed so that Santa could come. I always thought that was the funniest story. It made m e think of something that you would see on Andy Griffith or Andy of Mayberry or something like that. You know, I can see Barney walking a cow across the front yard or something. [Laughter] I just thought that was hilarious.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 30 W: And all the children would b B: You had to go to bed so Santa could come. W: Absolutely. T: Do you remember anything else about holidays, like Halloween, Fourth of July? W: B: Mm W: And she alwa ys mixed her own snow that you put on it. She used to take know some kind of a soap powder and whip it up in a dishpan, you put snow on your tree. B: W: Out of your dishpan. P: I remember my and you probably have a good memory of this is all the people in the neighborhood and family members had dinings. Everybody, I guess maybe the week before Christmas, he said you had to set when your dining was gonna be, because this person would have one and this person would have one and their Christmas dini hostess always provided all the food or if people brought things. W: P: a meat, two vegetables, and bread. I mean, there could have been a meat, a seafood, several vegetables


TMP 028; Powell; Page 31 W: Venison. P: Pies, cakes. W: Cakes. It was a feast. The women would start cooking at least a week to ten days before their dining. P: t they called it: their Christmas dining. And everybody came. Everybody came to their house. So it was very social. T: Right. You both experienced that? W: Yeah. I did. P: probabl y was her sister. T: Wow. Do you remember anything about when you went to Christmas dinings s house W: I was always T: What the house was decorated like? W: Basically not much different than today, but a lot more was homemade, like your garlands on the mantelpiece and everything. The owner of the house had made ornaments on the trees were homemade, what have you. The food was extravagant: it was nothing to have six or eight different cakes or ten or twelve different pies and venison and fish and beef and ham, all at the same meal. Homemade hot rolls. Everything was made from scratch. All homemade food and


TMP 028; Powell; Page 32 what have you. At the Winder home place, all I can tell you is we averaged about what? forty or fifty of us at least for a dining. P: Right, there were a lot of people. W: A lot of people. B: I remember him tell ing me that. And my dad said for Christmas, he got things like an orange and nuts and very simple things that were not common everyday things, but things that were considered a treat. W: he grocery store and buy any of that. B: Lincoln Logs from, I guess he had them sometimes in the [19]30s, he had Lincoln Logs. My son has his baseball mitt and his baseball. But he played basketball at the high school; he played baseball. W: My dad did, too. P : But they had a lot of chores that they were responsible for. I think the funny thing that I remember, Piankitank His name is years old now, and he lived in Baltimore. But he talked about coming down to visit in the summertime. He said they had to dig potatoes. He said it was hot an d dirty digging potatoes, and that when my grandfather would tell them that they were finished and I can only get the picture of two blonde, grubby little boys running across the barnyard and down the dock. He said overboard they went jumping in the creek after having to do it all.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 33 W: To cool off. P: After having to dig potatoes. [Laughter] T: B: P: T: Oh, my gosh. B: A P: Yes, they are. T: Why did you decide to keep all that stuff? B: P: B: Show it to our children. He probably kept it for sentimental reasons. P: Sentimental reasons. W : My mother was married in 1935, and I still have her wedding dress in my cedar chest. B: W: P: Wow. T: Is that the crushed velvet one? W: Mm hm. Crushed green velvet. P: Wow. B: Oh, my W: Mama was twenty four and Daddy was twenty nine when they were married.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 34 B: Some of that crushed green velvet is on Christmas ornaments. W: Uh huh, ornaments, yeah. And the silver from the bow is on the other ornaments. B: Yeah, she was creative. P: Oh, I know! You wanted me to tell you about how to spell Piankitank. T: Yeah, do that. P: where it originated, but when I was young and I said, we ll, are we on the York or the Rappahannock? I was trying to understand where Piankitank was, and now I Piankitank, P i Pie! A n k ank! I! T a n k! Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to b Piankitank. And he got that from his father, and who knows where it originated T: Yeah. Did your parents either set teach you anything lik e that, like rhymes or music or things like that? P: No. W: Mm mm. P: No, my dad took piano lessons, I think, for maybe a couple years as a boy, and I took piano lessons. out of the creek. [Laug hter] I guess when he thought that I was old enough to learn how to do that, he said, come here! And he stood on the end of the pier down there one day and said, open up! And he took a it was when you could rry about catching a disease.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 35 [Laughter] And he plopped it open and I had this thing in my mouth, and I thought, well, I guess I better just swallow! [Laughter] B: He did it with me once, too. P: I guess I was about eight or nine years old. [Laughter] B: I ran straight to the bathroom and hugged the toilet. That was the grossest thing in the world. Aunt Rachel taught me how to crab W: used to feed them to us in the high chair. P: Right, right. B: W: Back then, Grandmother in the wintertime, you always had a raw oyster cocktail shuck enough to have raw oyst er cocktail. So, I was a baby. I mean, I was no more than like fourteen, fifteen months old when they were feeding me oysters. P: Yeah. But my sister and I, we grew up in Richmond, but we would come down her e and my dad made sure that we learned their traditions like eating oysters, loving soft shell crabs. Beverly, when she was really small, had a little john boat, just a little small boat, and she was the queen of Queens Creek. B: in the water right now. P: She could go all the way up around up into Kenney Creek B: And come back with dozens!


TMP 028; Powell; Page 36 P: Which is a residential area now and catch a dozen soft crabs for dinner like that. B: It of my I would push along the shore and I would just watch the hard shell come off and the crabs come out of their shell. It was just so fascinating. I loved it. It was nature P: I think he really taught us how a soft shell crab becomes a hard shell blue crab and how you eat them and how you cook them. B: hard crab again. But anyway, I learned to eat corn ca kes and black molasses around here like I used to in the [19]60s and [19]70s. It was just great. There would be what do you call them? jimmies or something. P: Jimmies. The male crabs are jimmies. B: And the female crabs hard crabs all the time and P: Yeah, he taught us how to crab so that we had the little stick with the rope around it, and all you had was a weight on it. And you would just tie a chicken neck on the end and you could go B: I still remember that! P: On the end of the dock and put your line over, and you could just pull up crabs bs to do anything with anymore, which is really sad.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 37 T: So your father was in the waterman industry? He was in the Merchant Marines? P: He was in the Mercha nt Marines, yes. But his father, William P. Lewis, Sr., he was a waterman, yes. T: Okay. So your g randfather taught you some of that stuff, too, maybe? P: Probably. He was a lot older when I came along, but I do remember going out on em overboard. I knew what his oyster tongs were for. A funny story that my dad told me about him, to tell you what a navigator he was, he had his glasses in his pockets one time and he was oystering W: And they fell out of his pocket. P: And they fell out of his pocket. W: In the river. P: In the river. And I forgot what he used to mark the spot. W: And he took land markings, too, in the spot, came all the way back home, got his oyster tongs, went all the way back, and the first time he put them down he pulled up his glasses case with his glasses in it and a fish in it. P: T: [Laughter] Oh, my goodness. Did you want to talk about boatbuilding at all and that industry? I know that was it your father? W: Grandfather. T: The common gra ndfather, right? W: Mm hm. Right.


TMP 028; Powell; Page 38 T: That did that. Do you know anything about how he did that, how he learned it? W: the trade. P: Yeah, that would be what I genealogy records when I look him up farmer, or something like that. B: How he did what now? W: How he learn ed the craft of building boats from his family, from his father. B: T: B: He and my dad built his sailboat when he was a young man, so he had to have gotten that knowledge from somewhere. T: Mm hm. Was it knowledge that your father had? B: Yes, he had his own boat. He had a sailboat when he was a young man that he and his father built together. And then, when he became an adult, he had a sixteen foot wooden boat with a little, small cabin on it that he and his father built together. T: if you want to share anymore stories W: Okay. B: off the bottom of the I guess it was off the Piankitank P:


TMP 028; Powell; Page 39 B: P: thing . E v erything I wanted to talk about, I talked about. B: A fun memory wi th my father when I was seventeen was when the creek froze, wintertime. Never. I have a picture of Dad standing there. [inaudible 1:00:56 ] [Laughter] T: Okay! This concludes th e interview. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Jessica Taylor Audit e dited by: Kyle Bridge January 26, 2015 Final e dited by: Kyle Bridge January 26, 2015

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