Interview with John Ward, 2014 July 29

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Interview with John Ward, 2014 July 29
Ward, John ( Interviewee )
Taylor, Jessica ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Oral history interview


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


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To access audio version of this interview, click the Downloads tab at the top of the page.

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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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TMP 045A John Ward 7-29-2014 ( 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 045 Interviewee: John Ward Interviewer: Jessica Taylor Date: July 29, 2014 T: This is Jessica Taylor interviewing Captain Jack Ward on July 29, 2014 in Hudgins, Virginia at 10:15 AM Captain Ward, can you please state your full name? W: John Watson Ward. T: And when were you born? W: In Blakes, Virginia. T: Oh, okay. W: [Laughter] T: Which is just north of here, right? W: Uh huh. T: Okay. W: It T: Oh, interesting. W: Well, they did away you know, we had a post office in Mathews every two miles. You know why? Because have any transportation. [Laughter] You know? We had to walk. T: [Laughter] I look forward to hearing about that Can you tell me when you were born? W: August the twenty first, 1924. T: W: Charlotte Christian Ward. And my father was a farmer.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 2 T: Uh huh. He was a farmer in Blakes? W: Oh, yeah. U h huh. And this area T: Okay. Do you have any brothers or sisters? W: I had th ree brothers and two sisters. T: Wow. W: But they have all passed away. T: W: ally lived a long life. [Laughter ] T: Yeah. Wow. And you, yourself, what is your occupation? W: T: Okay. A ret earliest memories of Mathews? W: all. And growing up on a farm of course. Good years and the bad years, but I was born in [19] 24, which was the beginning of the so called bad decade or so in the country when we had the Great Depression We learned a lot from the Great Depression : how to conduct ourselves later on in life, that it was necessary to tr y to pro vide for yourself. And it took some resources so that you can handle yourself and your needs in later life. T: Okay. W: And one thing I o ur parents were always telling us they


TMP 045; Ward; Page 3 t have it. A nd you have to be without until our ship comes in or something like that, you know? T: Hm. How did the Depression affect your family? W: Well, we made it through. We were farmers, so m y father was a farmer, so we made it through the Depression al l right. We had plenty of everything except money. T: [Laughter] What did your father farm? W: Produce. T: Produce? W: Uh huh. T: Okay. W: And some small livestock S mall amount of livestock. T: Livestock being cattle? W: Cattle Uh huh. And pigs and like that. T: Okay. Was he successful at it? W: Yes. Uh huh. T: Mm hm. What did your grandparents do? Were they also from Blakes? W: Well, my grandparents were from th e county, from Mathews, and they lived near adjacent to the farm that we i n fact my wife and I, we still own T: Really? W: On the Piankatank. Uh huh.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 4 T: Wow! Is that house an older home? W: got married. T: Okay. W: U h huh. T: Did you know your grandparents? W: Oh, yeah. T: Uh huh? W: Yeah. T: What were they like as people? W: Good. Great people. T: Mm hm? W: Uh huh. T: Do you have any specific memories of your grandparents telling you stories about your family? W: Oh well, yes. [Laughter] Yeah. Yeah. T: Like what? W: Well, [inaudible 4:05 ] people came from M y grandmother was at one t ime very well off in buyin g property. H e and her did a lot of property in th e county, and some food crop property. For years, as I say the Depression took a toll on a lot of stuff, you know? That people had to sell property in order to exist and to keep going. T: Uh huh. Who did s he sell the property to?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 5 W: Well, the one property that was sold was sold to a real estate agent into T: Uh huh. W: That was over on Stove Point on the Piankatank River. T: Uh huh. W: And [inaudible 4:45 ] An they were sold. T: W: C hristi a n C h r i s t i a n, Julian Todd Annette. I had looked that up the other day. I saw it somewher this stuff, but anyway. T: W: But anyway, she was Annette something. Annette Lee Christian right. Sh e was a Marchant. H er maiden name was Marchant. M a r c h a n t T: Huh! W: Mm hm. T: W: Mm hm. T: And she was from Mathews too?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 6 W: Yes. Uh huh. She was born in Mathews. Uh huh. And so was my grandfather. My grandfather w as born right up the creek here a little bit. [Laughter] T: Interesting! W: Uh huh. T: Was he a farmer too? W: No. Well, he was a businessman. Mm hm. T: In what? W: In merchants. He was a retailer merchant and stuff like that. T: Okay! So what did they tell you about your family or Mathews when they were growing up? W: people if we could, unless I told you they did. They were honest with us. T: Yeah. W: As kids, we were growing up, y it. You know? T: Mm. W: [Laughter] A lot of things! Bicycle, for instance I had to settle for a second hand bicycle. When I was about ten years, twelve years old. Ten years old. Things like that. T: Okay. W: They were things that people take for granted nowadays. You know? T: Yeah. Okay.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 7 W: e markets like we have today. We had country stores. And we went wit h our father. He did most of the shopping for the list and he went to the store. And I remember when things were pretty go od at the h, s say we wa nted something that cost a dime, or a nickel, or a dime. And I can rememb er my mother telling us that, w hen a d ime toda y. Ask him for a penny. They used to have penny sized candy in those days, you know? T: Yeah. [Laughter ]. W: [Laughter] And they had a lot of it! It was a good volume. T: Do you remember which store was the store that you went to most often? W: E.L. Soles T: Okay. W: It was the grocery store in Cobbs Creek. T: What did it look like on the inside? W: He kept as modern as you could in those days store. Yeah. And he sold had our own garden s on the farm anyway. things, but we had all th But he sold all what was necessary for the county at that time, what p eople would need. Meats, pork


TMP 045; Ward; Page 8 T: Okay. W: S ugars, an d the things that are necessary. Staples. You know? T: o, when y ou walk into the store W: Uh huh. T: W hat do you see? W: Huh. Well, w community at that time, for working people. Overalls, work shirts, fl our, and sugar, and rope [laughter ], and hardware T: W: The owner was always in there when I went in. T: What was he like? W: Very nice pe rson. Very nice person. T: Do you remember anything specific about him? How he looked? What he was like with kids ? W: Yeah. Very tall. Very large man. Tall. Was chubby, but not fat. T: Okay. W: And he used to always pick me up and throw me up on his arms and stuff like that. You know? T: [Laughter] W: I can say I remember that. And also he always would give somethin g to us, a s kids. A piece of candy, or a little have them those days. But suckers, those candy bars they ha ve. Used to


TMP 045; Ward; Page 9 T: store as a place to hang out? W: Oh, yeah. T: Yeah? W: Mm hm. T: What do you remember about that? W: They used to sit ar ound and talk. Well, we listened. We were being We were listening. T: What were they talking about? W: Well, politics, w T: Mm hm. I mean, never heard anyone talk about that before. What were the politics like? Were they interested in state politics? National politics? W: Well, in the early days, they were interested in all of it. But they had a lot of respect for the federal government. I wa s always taught never to break by breaking the federal law. T: Wow! What was he talking about specifically there? W: Well, what the fe deral laws went with We liked to hunt and fi sh and stuff like that. T: Oh, okay.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 10 W: See, things like that, you know, there were certain types o f law. Ducks, the year. And they were federal, or protec ted. And so, there were t hings that we needed to be taught. There was lined up other laws that would come along later. You know? T: Sure. W: We needed to be taught what existed that day and what affected us. T: Yeah. W: Yeah. Yeah. T: Do you remember Prohibition at all? W: Yes. Uh huh. T: What was that like? W: [Laughter] T: t W: No. T: [Laughter] W: There was a lot of bootleggers around. T: Yeah? W: A lot of people who made whiskey. And it was about the only way that a lot of people had cash. The cash flow was liquor. And I remember also, my father being a farmer, that people would have to have corn . and so we sold a lot of corn. [Laughter]


TMP 045; Ward; Page 11 W: So he delivered, but sold a few merchant. And most of them pick it up and sell it, de liver it to the people. T: Do you remember, were the bootleggers known or were they sort of . ? W: Yeah. They we re known by everybody. [Laughter] T: They knew everybody? Okay. Was there any effort to put that down? W: Well, yes. There was an effort, b there was a lot of people selling, making liquor. T: [ Laughter] W: Yeah. Yeah. T: Good to know! [Laughter] W: Yeah. Yeah. There was a lot of people making corn whiskey. T: Wow. Huh! Was it leaving the county or was it staying in the county? W: Well, as far as I know, it was staying in the county. Uh huh. T: Okay. Hm. Interesting. What were holidays like when you were a kid? W: Oh, they were good. Great. T: Yeah? W: things for the year. T: Yeah. W: hey realized they co uld find something that we could play with on the farm. You give us


TMP 045; Ward; Page 12 two or three hours, and then go out and find a real one or something on the farm to run around with that. T: [Laughter] W: You know? T: Yeah. Yeah. I get that. What about holidays like Fourth of July or Halloween? W: Oh, there were always parades have anymore, we did have. Now, they think they do something great by firing o ff a bunch of firecrackers. T: [Laughter] W: All of the lodges and things in the community, you always hear it whatever holiday it was, especially if it was a patriotic holiday li ke Fourth of July. Memorial Day, it was always services in the ch urches abo ut Memorial Day. T here was big things made of it. You were taught to respect, I guess, what happened in the past. T: Yeah, interesting. W: Uh huh. T: I wanted to ask you about that, i f you had known any Civil War veterans or people like that when you were growing up. I knew that they were still around then. W: Yeah, I know of them. I knew them, but not so close that I could talk about the m. the granddaughter of the last one that I knew of.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 13 T : Oh, wow. W: Mm hm. Gazette Journal I got some information here for you for certain things. T: Oh, great. W: About the county. T: Great! W: T: great. What were you taught about Mathews in the Civil War? W: Of course, s I told you, they were landed people, and they lost a lot during that war too. So, we learned that the Yankees wer [Laughter] W: Or we were told that. T: Yeah. [Laughter] A mean to be a landowner in Mathews? W: Well, it means that you possess property and really i name. Never thought of it any other way T: Okay. I was just wondering if there was a value to it that was more social in nature. W: I think that all depends on i f you had one of the old colonial estates or something lik e that, would probably be but . Yeah. T: Interesting. Okay. So how lo ng has your family been in Mathews?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 14 W: Well, my mother was born here. My father came from Eastern Shore of Virginia. T: Okay. W: Over in Northampton County. T: Okay. W: He was born and raised over there. T: W: ccurate I am, but, see my great grandfather was the second judge of the county. T: Oh wow. W: And this is not only there are the three, four counties here, like Ki ng and Queen, and Gloucester and Middlesex He was probably the most prominent one in our family. I never knew him. T: Uh huh. Okay. W: He was gone when I came along. But I guess they county for w ell, they had connections back to the Hudg ins family, so I guess th a long while. T: that you grew up in. W: I grew up on Hess Farm. T: Hess Farm. W: Which is the old colonial place they have right up the river here T: Oh!


TMP 045; Ward; Page 15 W: T: What were you W: I was born there, a nd all six of us children were born there. T: Wow. Wow. So what were you told about that estate? It being so old and everything. W: Well, just that we knew naturally it was an old place. The Armstead family was the original, beginning of it, I think Armstead. It course And then, no one knew how old it was, but up on the chimney, from wha t I remember my father saying, I think it was t he north chimney, wa s 1848 or something like that written on it B exact date, what he said, but there was a date on the chimney that they always went by. T: [Laughter] So, walk me through the house. When you walk in, what do you see? W: Well at that time i the house now. But back to the original estate when it was many years ago. At that time, was a basement. Full basement. This had two big ro oms, two big rooms down there. There was a stairwell all the way up to the attic, and very, very narrow. I remember that. [Laughter] And in t he house, in the old structure a framed one that had four rooms. And the re was four big rooms. It was two on the ground floor, or well, on t he ground level. Then there was two more up, then two


TMP 045; Ward; Page 16 in the attic So six rooms and four: about ten rooms altogether, I guess. In the frame structure when we were there. T: Yeah. W: Uh hu h. T: So you said there was new construction. Did your family put that on? W: Yeah. My dad, t hey did that when they got married I guess. T: Oh! Interesting. W: T hey had extra room. T: So what was the basement used for? W: We never used it. My father, well he planted a lot of potatoes. A sh potatoes. T: In the basement? W: No. T: Oh. W: We used them in the basement, and you have to cut the se potatoes. You know, you have to sprout them and grow them He used to buy Maine produced potatoes because they were for four dollars, and they would them in the basement by the seed potato. Put them down there, and then the heat, to make them sp rout, to make the m sprout fast. And in February of course, in those days, in his farming days, we never had the power of machinery li ke you have today. We had to use teams mostly. Mules and things like that And they used to


TMP 045; Ward; Page 17 start planting on the twenty se cond of February. And of course, they used to plant a lot of potatoes, and depending on how many they planted is how them a month and a half to do it. T: Uh huh. W: And some yea plant maybe seventy five, a hundred acres. T: Wow. W: And you know, and all that stuf f was harvested by hand. [Laughter ] No. T: [Laughter also W: Yeah. Uh huh. I mean, well, o f course us boys, all we had to do was plow T: Wow. W: Plowed them out, and then you had other hands would come in and sta rt in the afternoons, about two or early July. Finished them and then you let those lay on the ground until the next morning, about four cooled off, and put them in the barrels. And us boys, we had to go ahead and cooper up the barrels, put tops on them, an d then they would haul them to t hough someday, of course before I was born, they had some on the Eastern Shore em over on the sailboats, they load them right over by boa tyard off there. But the whole time I can remember, we


TMP 045; Ward; Page 18 always load ed them from the wharf. And used to send them by powerboat by then. We had powerboats at that time. And used to send them to Washing ton, D.C. to sell them up there. T: Wow! W: Mm hm. T: W: They were sold to the broker through Eastern Shore. They were sold by the grocers most of the time. T: Mm hm. W: of them. T: So did your father buy Hess Farm? W: No. T: No. W: Mm hm. T: It was his parents ? W: No. It was the association that he was with from Eastern Shore. T: Oh, okay! W: Actually, he went by T.P. Bell. T: Okay. W: He was from Machipongo. T: Okay. W: Mm hm.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 19 T: And he had just owned it. W: Mm hm. Mm hm. T: Interesting. W: Mm hm. And it was sold in 1937, I think it was, to a family from Richmond, Virginia. It was Maxwell. John Maxwell. And then the Maxwells sold it to the Stevens of the Patuxent One of those families bought it. T: Mm hm. W: An d then they in turn sold it to Mr. Stevens, he died, I believe. Yeah. I Charlottesville s a German name. ext to my place. We just never see one another. T: [Laughter] So, was there anything unique about the architecture or the interior of that house? W: Oh, beautiful home. T: Yeah? W: Everything was soli d brick Very thick. And all the way from the basement up was solid brick walls. And in the summertime, when the sun really the warm the house for the night. It would cool off. We ha d a bit of humidity i nside of the house in the days, in the afternoon they did that day is kept the they had those big shutte rs


TMP 045; Ward; Page 20 windows and let the warm air pass through. T: Wow! W: I remember on the west side, especially the south sweat w ell, humidity showing on the wall. T: Wow! W: Mm h m. T: W: Yeah. They keep it at the heat, sp the house is cool in the inside. And as soon as the side heated up, it heated the air in the house the cool air h eated it and made it just a matter of a natural thing that happen s when heat and water clouds in the sky. You know? T: Yeah. W: They gather their water, and a cool front comes along to drop it, and it rains on ya! T: [Laughter] Do you remember thinking things like, t his hardware or this furniture is very old? And probably W: Well, the furniture we had was old. T: Yeah? W: Mm hm. T: ? W: T: Oh.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 21 W: Mm hm. So, you know things were bad in those days, and a lot of people moved away from the county and went up to Baltimore, t o the cities, and some of them carried on with professional life and some of them And as those who left here grew older, they sent a lot of their n obody wanted old furniture in those days, you know. T: So your dad just could pick it up! W: You could send a truckload of st uff to Baltimore when they lived in Baltimore, most of them. When that truck came back, it was going to have someb Furniture. T: Wow! W: Yeah. T: your room? Like what level? W: [Laughter] T: W: Just the beds, fireplace, and so me furniture to put clothes in, underclothes and things like that in. Shirts, wh atever. T: Yeah? Was it decorated in any way? W: Not special. No. T: Mm mm. Did you use the fireplace? W: ll that wood upstairs. [Laughter] T: Aw.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 22 W: hem for the living rooms and things like that. T: Yeah. That makes sense. W: Mm hm. T: W: I remember a little about the paint. That was all I remember because it was blue. T: [Laughter] W: I remember they had antique something that was paint in those rooms in our house. That must have been there forever. They kept those colors. T: Uh huh. W: And all there was, was just white them big doors that you walk through. T: Yeah. W: And then another thing about the house, as you know about t hose homes, they have a big hall where they used to have all their dances and that kind of stuff, you know? T: Yeah. Do you remember dances and things like that ? W: Yeah. Uh huh. T: In the hall? W: Well, yeah. T hey [Laughter]


TMP 045; Ward; Page 23 W: ve foot. They were probably wide, probably about twenty feet hall. That is the width of the hall T: Yeah. W: The width of the old house, from one side to the other. T: So you remember dances and things like that. W: Yeah, in the hall there. T: So what kind of dancing woul d there be? What kind of music? W: We had a piano then at home, so it was either a piano or someone came in and played music. Here in those days mostly string music T: Wonderful. W: Uh huh. T: What kind of music did your parents listen to? W: Well, see here, all we had was an Atwater Kent radio for commercial stuff. And that was powered by battery in those days. T: Was it differen t from the music that was played on strings? W: Yeah. Well, some. Mm to music, you know. We had to work. T: No, I know! I know. W: [Laughter] T: what was your favorite song on strings? W:


TMP 045; Ward; Page 24 T: W: Nuh uh T: Do you remember anything that your parents loved particularly, like any song or ? W: Well mostly, when people would visit, they always used to sing in those days. Play the piano and sing. It would be somebody in the group that would play the piano an d the gather around the piano, and sing hymns and things they were familiar with in the county. T: Mm hm. W: Mm hm. T: W: No. Whatever songs were available for dancing remember those things. T: Okay! A l l can tell. W: Uh huh. T: Do you remember any ghost stories or anything like that that maybe your dad told you or your friends told you? W: Oh, we used to hear a lot of ghost stories, but I never did believe in ghosts [Laughter] T:


TMP 045; Ward; Page 25 W: y in particular. T: school did you go to, starting out? W: Cobbs Creek. T: Cobbs Creek. W: T he public school. Cobbs Creek. T: What do you remember about that? W: [Laughter] Rememb er about that? T: Mm hm. W: Well, we had . eleven grades. Yeah. There are twelve now. There was there They consolidated the schools to Mathews High School, to one school in the county. I was graduated in 1941, so I was the second graduating class from Mathews. So I went down there in [19]40; [19] 49 is when they actually went to that school. T: Wow. W: And then the first graduating class was [19]40. Second one was [19] 41. T: Wow. W: Mm hm. And it was well disciplined [laugh ter ] for sure, and teachers had a lot of thoughts [inaudible 28:54 ] students in those days. T: [Laughter] W: And of course, the parents, they believed in them and they gave them the opportunity to handle the ir children when they went to school. And if


TMP 045; Ward; Page 26 something went on at school and news got back home, we h a d something a little worse when we got home. T: Did you ever get in trouble? W: At school, no. T: No. W: Mm m m. T: Never. W: I wanted to get out of there. [Laughter] T: So what was Cobbs Creek like? What were your teachers like? W: Very nice people. T: Mm hm. Were they from Mathews? W: Oh yeah. Most of them from Mathews. There were some from Middlesex, some as far away as West Point that I can recall. T: Mm hm. W: But a majority of the m were from Mathews, and a majority of them taught Sunday school on Sundays. T: Really? Which church was yours? W: At that time, it was Mathews Chapel up here, Methodist church. T: Oh, o kay. W: Mm hm. T: were the relationships like between the churches?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 27 W: Well, good far as I know. T: Yeah? W: [Laughter] W: Yeah. No, I between churches. T: Ok ay. Sometimes you run into that i n different communities. W: Mm hm. T: day like from when you wake up until when you go to bed? W: Well, now, what do you mean? From the time I wake up? Okay. We get up at dawn on the farm. We feed all the animals. Then, we feed ourselves. [inaudible], Daddy woul d take us to w school bus, and then if you lived as close as we did to the school, they away. So Daddy wanted us at home to do some work anyway, so he would take us, and then as one of th for us to drive. T: Mm hm. W: Up there, a T: [Laughter]


TMP 045; Ward; Page 28 W: Yeah. And the school bus was like a litt le I remember the first one was a little Model T Ford truck. The owner had kept it and make it to a bus, and we used to call it a crab float, because there a wooden body on it, and you the back. T: [Laughter] W: And that was the begin ning of the school buses. T: Wow. W: And then, as time went on, we naturally got better school buses, but T: Yeah. Who drove the first school bus? W: The owner of the one that I went was Bryant Edwards. Bryant. B r y a n t Bryant Edwards. T: So did he make money off of that? W: Oh, yeah. He did. The school system paid him to own and drive that bus, paid him for the use of his bus. He remained into buses for a long while, until things improved. He remained in private ownership or contracted to carry stud ents I guess until . into the late [19]30s, if not [19]40 s. T: Mm hm. W: Yeah. Otherwise the school board used to drive the bus. As time went on, our school board would drive the bus, get a dollar or two, and th on their bus. T: [Laughte r] Wow. What was it like to sit in the back of that Model T Ford? Was it dark with all the curtains?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 29 W: If the curtains were closed, it was dark, but he kept them open most of the time. [Laughter] T: Oh, wow. I bet it was a bumpy ride too. W: Well, that anyway. You know? T: [Laughter] W: He was a driver, in those days, a nd the earliest one. But then later on, as buses improved, as I said, they w ent to a larger improved, and more responsibility came on people. They had to develop. They had good buses. T: Th W: And T: What was it Oh, good ahead. Sorry. W: T: Oh, okay. So, what was it like to transition from Cobbs Creek to Mathews? W: For me, it was very good because our school had a very good curriculum up there, and we had things that went on in the school. We taught agriculture up there, which developed the Future F armers of Ameri ca. And those boys were well a lso, we had ninety minute classes in agriculture, and I was in that. And we were taught business. Y ou had to do your


TMP 045; Ward; Page 30 and you were taught marketing, and you were taught leadership. And actually, to be honest with you, we were better organized, I guess you might say, because when we went down there, our group did very well at the high school in leadership and other things like that. T: Really? W: Mm hm. T: What do you mean by that? W: Well taking like, president of the classes, and the student government ever hesitate to step up, say, for it. mor e than that, president. Everybody wanted to be secretary or treasurer or something T: Interesting. Okay. W: I mean, I had reasons for that becau it. T: Okay. Hm! So, what did you learn in the agricultural classes? W: Well, we were taught just about everything as far as what was necessary on the farm, and repairs, and how to raise crops, improvement in how to raise crops, and also nutrients f or crops, and things like that. We learned a lot there. That was a great help because in those days, farmers knew


TMP 045; Ward; Page 31 and all of these up there. But we had all our information fro m th ese various divisions that the V.P.I. had around the school, around the state. They had those farms around and did a lot of experiment stations. All the information was covered brought up there and either was distributed to the instructors were brough t down to us and the schools that had those programs. T: Wow. W: the general population of the county or any county where it was available. They improved the farming by unbelievable amounts. And also, marketing. Marketing was a great thing. You grew a crop, and you had to take whatever the guy said. Now, here what the y do, they contract them off, and they do some things other these guys who speculated on you. T: Well, that was my follow up question, is: h ow did what you learn ed mesh with what your father tau ght you about agriculture and marketing? W: What did I learn T: How did what you learned in school compare with what your father taught you about agriculture and marketing? W: Well, I would say that, although he understood nourishment quite well of the p T: Mm hm.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 32 W: More. But agriculture was great for everybody. T: Mm hm. W: To teach them that in the school. And in fact, in my opinion, those type of classes, subjects, should be taught in school more today Then children will find things to do that a person would take some leadership and learn culture class, our instructor e very boy in the class had to learn how to conduct a meeting. Order. That was required. And the Futur e Farmers of America National Association Yeah. T: Hm! So did what you learned in school bring changes to your family farm? W: . .Well, see, the nutrients, he understood problem with that. T: Okay. W: But they used to use the county agent a lot to come around. In those animal got sick, you got tho se county agents. Look for him! Put him in b ecause they had medical knowledge. And I can remember, they also had people who were trained to take care of medicines. But those county agents, they knew quite well too. And we relied on them a great deal. And if there was something the veterinarians. T: So what were some of the problems that you were fac ing that required county agents a s w ell as sickness and animal goes?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 33 W: Well, s ee, the county agent, he was it was just predominan tly then, a lot of farming was going on in these areas. And a lot of families were depending on farms for their living, and that was just an improvement in the whole countryside. These county agents brought in a lot of knowledge to people. T: Mm hm. W: An d also, they kept you abreast of federal programs tha t went on, and things like that. It was an improvement such as that. T: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, let me ask you, o nce you graduated, did you go into the service? W: I left. I went to sea. I started to sea then, and I stayed and sailed on merchant ships during the war. T: Mm hm. W: And the war was over, and I just stayed out there. T: Mm hm. W: I found it better than watching the mule. [Laughter] W: the reason why I have this place up next to Hess F arm, is because of that, because I knew how to do all these situations. anything else, you know, when the world war was over. So my brother and I, we got this place up there. It has about twenty acres. I figured, well, we


TMP 045; Ward; Page 34 T: Yeah. Absolutely, you can. W: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. T: So, why did you decide to go to sea, or were you drafted? W: Why did I decide to go to sea? T: Mm hm. W: My brothers had gone to sea, and Mathews County was full of sea captains and sea sea. T: W: finished high school. They had to go to work somewhere. T: Mm hm. W: So, everybody knew someone who was on a ship. A captain, a engineer, chief engineers, T: Wh at did your brothers tell you about going to sea? W: Well, the best advice my oldest brother had was he stayed out there, he said, well now, when you go out there, he says, y going to look s what you have to do. And I found that to be true. You went out on a ship somewhere, you already had what they called a slap chest. If you needed a pair of underwear or a tube of from. Otherwise, you should carry


TMP 045; Ward; Page 35 enough with you when you go on the ship that you have all this [ina udible], In those days anyway. T: So, how did you change as a person after high school going to sea? W: ow that I changed. I tried not to. [Laughter] T: You tried not to? W: always was raised to be. T: Okay. W: Mm hm. T: Interesting. Do you feel like your brothers were any differen t as people than you were? W: each other. T: Mm hm. W: We always supported one another. T: Okay. So, did anything that you want to share about the war happen? Anything climactic or notab le? W: No. We just went over there. We ca rried the materials over there, and the boys over there, the soldiers did the rest of it, so T: Over there is . ? W: To Italy. I sailed to Europe because I was transatlantic. T: Okay.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 36 W: I was always planning to work out of here. T: What was your ship? W: I had plenty of ships. T: Oh. You had multiples? W: Well, me? Yeah. [Laugh ter] T: Okay. W: ognizes. So, there was plenty of Liberties. T: Okay. W: And the first ship I was on though was not a Liberty It was an old, old ship. That was in 1942 or [194]3 or something like that, and [194] 2. Anyway, she was about thirty years old then. It was old [Laughter] T: So, World War I? W: do mu ch. They wanted those ships to they wanted the people on them to modernization. If we ls to go to these schools, and these electronic peop le they had, tell us enough. T hey knew how to market things. They would g ive the schools that we went to, like, the f the officials from the shore. know anything about it! And we got the scho ol s. So, we went to those


TMP 045; Ward; Page 37 schools. We found there is radars, and satellite navigators, and all those things. We could ask for them. And of course, you ask for them, you get them, m ore tha n likely. T: Wow. W: And so, all of that was a big help. T: Yeah. W : That really modernized That ship, the old one, she still had magnetic gyrocompasses. Magnetic compasses. And the captain used to adjust that thing, and she steered by points, steered by when we first started. T: Wow. W: Mm hm. T: Wow. That must have been a shock. W: difference after that. I thought that day I was just going on a ship. T: [Laughs]. W: T: So what was it like going from that to your first Liberty ship? W: It was a big difference. The Liberty had better quarters, better bathroom facil ities. Much better bath t he old ship u sed to have a to take a shower used to have a ste


TMP 045; Ward; Page 38 sometimes it was real hot, and sometimes it was all stea m! [Laughter] T: What were the living quarters like on the old one? Like the bunks. W: Oh, it was more people. Well, you had metal racks. And it was also more crowded. When I first went to sea, the A B .. s and the oilers slept on one side of the steering engine room. The steering engine room now, the it was blocked away from the steering engine. It was a bulkhead there But you had one or two or three above the others. One or two above the others. More crowded. T: Mm hm. W: Liberty ships they become [inaudible 45:10 ] Liberty, which was hopefully now in t hose days was a big difference . They had four bunks, one above t he other. But we used to have one watch in a bunk, three men on a watch. The oilers in the engine room, they only had one oiler watch over They had one oiler, had one room though. There was individual rooms. And as the ships improved, they began to put in dividuals. You had your in dividual room. The only people that had individual rooms was the officers, and T: Mm hm. Virginia, right?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 39 W: No. Well, my father and me, we used to go quite a bit And m y mother had people in Newport N ews and other places. We said, you can go visit those. And we had people in Maryland. T: Okay. W: Mm T: Was it a culture shock to meet other people from different parts of the country or even people in Italy? W: Well, believe it or not else was young in the days that I went. And it was quite well behaved. It And there was always some apples around, bad apples I guess. But we all did fine. T: W: I tried not to be. [Laughter] T: Did you get married after the war? W: Yeah. T: You did? W: Mm hm. We got married in 1952. And I got my m asters license, then I got my marriage license. T: Did you go to more school for that? W: Oh, yeah. We were at schools all the time. T: Mm hm.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 40 W: Mm hm. My first schoolin g was Officers Candidate School, Newland, Connec ticut That was in 1944. Mm hm. Because I worked my way up through the [inaudible 47:18 ]. And because I did not come from the academies, I had to wait until I was twenty one years old before I could get a license. T: Mm hm. W: But if I had been able to go to a n academy, I would have been three years down instead of four. They cut it down to three years. And I would hav e been able to get in earlier. But anyway, it was a requirement that had to be done, and I did that. T: Yeah. So what rank did you finish with? W: Master. T: Master. W: I had a Master. I ended up with a Masters license. T: Okay. W: For any vessel, any size, of the oceans. T: Okay. W: Mm hm. T: Is that the same as your rank in the Merchant Marine? W: You were always called a Master. T: Oh, okay. W : Yeah, captain. Everybody calls you captain because you obviously T: Okay.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 41 W: But the license I have it right there T: Wow! That is a fancy looking license. [Laughter] T: [Laughter] W: No. No. No. T: Okay. W: printed a long time ago. T: Master. What happens next career wise? W: Well, as long as y ou wo rked for a company and or companies, depending on, if you could get somebody to appoint you as Master, which I was able to do, I was M aster for the rest of my days. See, I had a Masters license before I became Master of a ship. And I had to work for the sa me company for quite a while. And then they promoted me on up. And then, that company went out of business, and they went over to another company, and I stayed with them until I retired. T: So, you worked for two companies, then? W: Well, the last two major companies I worked for was Maritime Overseas Corporation, which was the last one I worked for. F rom ab out 1963 I went with them And then, prior to that was Orion Shipping & Trading. T: Okay.


TMP 045; Ward; Page 42 W: Yeah. Uh huh Mm hm. T: How did your relationship wit h the companies change over time? W: Mm, well, I got along with them pretty good, I guess. [Laughter] T: Yeah? W: Yeah. They kept me on the payroll. T: Okay. Okay. W: Yeah. T: What was your relationship with the guys that worked on the ship? The hands, I guess you would call them. W: Well, crew. T: Okay. W: Fine. I had very little trouble. T: Okay. Do you remember any of them specifically? Anybody you got close to? W: . No. T: W: Well, the officer or the chief engineer. Well, the chief and I, we had a pretty good relationship. We used to travel around together to shores and stuff like that. T: Okay. W: Mm hm. T: So, what was your seasonal pattern like? Did you stay close to home or did you go everywhere?


TMP 045; Ward; Page 43 W: Oh, everywhere. T: So, what were some of the places that you went? W: t. T: Okay! [Laughter] W: en into to go, and they changed orders on us. I was on our way. T: Okay. W: T: Okay. What were some of the mo W: Hm. T: What was a favorite? W: Favorite? T: Yeah! W: [Laughter] T: Give me a favorite! W: Whichever I get off and come home. [Laughter] T: Okay. W: European ports. I liked England a lot, because the language barrier was no t there. You know? And the pub. any one can go into an English pub but when I


TMP 045; Ward; Page 44 was going to sea and not leave there happy. Everybody was friendly. You know? T: Interesting. W: Yeah. tankers. T: Mm hm. W: And we work ed for the n avy. We did a lot of work for the U.S. Navy. T: Mm hm. W: And, you know, wherever they had bases that we c arried fuel, we transferred to navy ships at sea. T: Hm. W: F rom time to time. T: How did changing technology affect ? W: Well, we had s chools, and we went to these schools. They realized we had to have schools to keep us abreast of what was going on the changed a great deal. And they have schools. been retired thirty one years. So, a lot has changed since I was ret ired. T: Yeah! Well, I mean, while you were working, what was one of the biggest changes that you experienced technologically? Or even work habit wise. W: of work and plenty of respon sibility, and a plenty requirement for you to be


TMP 045; Ward; Page 45 on the job all the time. But the ships changed a gre at deal. They improved the food They improved the refrigeration on the ships a great deal. We not only had refrigerator I mean, a freezer b ut cooling room to take stuff out of the refrigerator, I mean, from frozen down to you could use it. T: Mm hm. W: And food change in that. T: Yeah! W: Because fuel, food, and of course, the li ving conditions on the ship, the hotel conditions, were unbelievably improved from what the old days were. T: Yeah. W: Yeah. [Laughter] T: Hm. Do you have any anecdotes from your decades of experience that you can share? Maybe like notable things that happened, storms . W: Well, back then, the storms comment too much on them because a storm is [inaudible 53:40 ] a ship. I mean, the ships, as I was saying, got bigger and bigger, so they got safer and safer than what type of ship I sail ed. And the thing of it is, you have to be very careful in storms that you reduce the speed of your ship. Otherwise, you could destroy her. Y nd a lot of things happened. Most of the things that happened are because either the ship got ten


TMP 045; Ward; Page 46 speed to sea, and you have to slow her automobile. You have to reduce the speed when the conditions require it. T: That is what happened in the movie, Titanic if I remember right [Laughter] W: Yeah. T: Did you ever make a mistake like that? W: Not yet. T: Not yet. [Laughter] W: T: W: Mm hm. T: you want to share? W: Not in particular. T: Okay. W: Mm hm. T: Al


TMP 045; Ward; Page 47 W: I want to show you one of the ships. T: Oh, okay. H old on. Let me stop this real quick. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Jamie Taylor, January 9, 2015 Audit edited by: Jessica Taylor, January 27, 2015 Final edited by: Jessica Taylor