Interview with Floyd and Jean Ward, 2014 October 25

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Interview with Floyd and Jean Ward, 2014 October 25
Ward, Floyd ( Interviewee )
Ward, Jean ( Interviewee )
Pilder, Andy ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Oral history interview


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Tidewater Main Street Development Project
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews
United States of America -- Virginia -- Middlesex


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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 071 Floyd and Jean Ward 10-25-2014 ( 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 071 Interviewees: Floyd Ward and Jean Ward Interviewer: Andy Pilder Date: October 25, 2014 P: This is Floyd and Jean W ard interviewed by Andy Pilder, 10 25 14. Floyd what was your full name when you were born? FW: Floyd Thomas Ward P: Floyd Thomas Ward and what was your date of birth? FW: June 29, [19]28. P: June 29, [19]28, ok ay Where did you grow up? FW: I P: In Deltaville FW: Whole life. P: Ok ay Where did you go to school? FW: Deltaville and Syringa P: Ok ay how about elementary school? JW: That was Deltaville. FW: Yes, Deltaville. JW: Deltaville School at the time P: Ok ay. When did you graduate from school? FW: 1945.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 2 P: 1945. Was it a big class? FW: No, it was twenty P: Twenty three in your class? FW: Twenty three. P: Okay. FW: Yeah. P: Do you still remain friends with a bunch of friends from high school? FW: P: Are they? Okay. JW: FW: Yeah. Six, probably is left. P: When you graduated from school, what did you do? FW: P: Okay. Was that something that ran in your family? FW: Yes, my grandfather and father. P: I take it you started doing that before you graduated from school, right? FW : Well, with my father a little bit, going to carry in a line or get watermelons. Pretty much a family thing, what it was: brothers, Daddy.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 3 P: You knew that was what you were gonna do your whole life? FW: P: Yeah. [Laughter] P: Can you tell me a little about your childhood? FW: neighborhood, you played cowboys and did stuff like that. P: Yeah. FW: And as you got older, you just wa nted to get through school. You wanted to go out and wo rk, even though the wages were Podunk by the hour, at the most. So, just like everybody else growing up in a small neighborhood. Through high school, da ting a little bit. [Laughter] . P: What about your family? You have siblings? FW: I had four boys, and we raised a JW: Thirty five. FW: Thirty five? Okay. P: You have brothers or sisters?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 4 FW: Yes, I got one brother living, and no sisters. P: Are you the oldest? FW: P: FW: ddle one. JW: It was three boys. P: Three boys? FW: Yeah. P: FW: P: Your parents, what were they like? FW: daddy was just a hard, hard person. Just wanted you to work. No pleasure in it, just work. Do what he said to do. P: How old were you when you first starte d working with your dad? FW: I guess about fourteen. P: Was that your choice or his?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 5 FW: . It was more or less his choice. JW: It was something you did automatically. P: What did you do for fun when you were a teenager? FW: Well, I never played sports or nothing, so I more or less, we just played around in the harbor and did things with the other young men coming along. So . other than fun, go to the movies, do things like that. Go down to the bowling alley, P: Okay. You think it takes any special skills to be a waterman? FW: picture too strong. But now it takes a lot of skill to be a waterman. P: Can you tell me about what you do? F W: three years, so things have advanced so much learn things like that. But now they can take a boat and pick up pictures. Our cancer; he sits in his living room and watches his boat come out of P: Tell me what a typical day was like at work. FW: Well, depends on what I was doing. I dredged crabs as a young person myself midnight.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 6 P: Mm hm. What do you need to do to dredge crabs? FW: six, sixty five feet long, have two dredges, one on each side. We caught hard crabs, blue crabs, they called them. to Deltaville. It was rewarding because I got to keep what I caught. They were ut myself That was it. P: FW: We had about twelve boats working for ourselves at one time, different owners. But they would we had our own trucks which I did myself a lot of times. I did it. JW: what they caught that day was sold to him. FW: Yeah, we bought from the other crabbers. P: Oh, okay. FW: They were hour workers; they worked for us, and we would just load them on trucks and carry them to Crisfi eld. P: So then who would you sell the crabs to? FW: All the packers in Crisfield. I can remember a lot of them: J.C.W. Towers and Booker Ward, the P: What about the price of crab?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 7 FW: Very poor. P: Always? FW: for our work. We worked for sixty to a hundred hours a [week]; then you had to pay two men out of it. P: So what do you think you walked away with? FW: make in the land, but no gr eat salary. P: Do you remember some of the prices of crabs? FW: Yes, I do. I guess when we started they were four, five, six dollars a barrel. P: About year was that? FW: That was in the [19]40s, [19]50s. If you got six, seven dollars a barrel, it was goo forty, fifty dollars a bushel. P: bushel as far as size? FW: It takes three bushel for a barrel. P: Three bushel for a barrel? FW: Yeah. P: Okay. You think it was worth it, though?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 8 FW: Evidently it was. I stuck with it. [Laughter] We all worked as a family: my daddy, and my brothers. JW: It depended where you lived then. P: Oh. When did you two get married? JW: [19]48. P: 1948? How far out of high school was that? FW: About three years. JW: About three years. P: How did you two meet? JW: Met in Mathews at a little barbeque not too far from where I lived. P: Were you from Mathews? JW: Mm hm. Did you remember going through a neighborhood called Hudgins? P: Mm mm. JW: P: JW: You could have. We met at a little barbeque at Hudgins one night, and I had been there for church. I lived close enou gh to walk home, and he took me home, made a date that was it. [Laughter]


TMP 071; Ward; Page 9 P: How long did you court for? JW: Three years. P: Three years? JW: Yeah, I was still in high school. P: Okay. How old were you when you got married? JW: Nineteen. P: And how old wer e you, Floyd? JW: Twenty. P: Twenty? Okay. What was your wedding like? JW: We ran away and got married. At that time, a lot of people went to North Carolina and got married. P: Why was that? JW: other than go. You went and you went to the justice of the peace, and they married you. P: JW: No, no. No. FW: Two people.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 10 JW: o have anybody with us. My mother did not want me to get married then, but it worked out good. She loved him more than she did me. [Laughter] Just as much. P: What was your relationship like with your in laws? FW: Very good. They loved me. I know they did Her daddy especially, he was a wonderful man. He worked on the Bay Line steamer that run from Cape Charles to Old Point, and he was quartermaster on that boat. We all got along good, the whole family. I married into a wonderful family. So like I say. P: JW: Yeah. P: Up here. So it was common that people would go down JW: Yes. P: To North Carolina? JW: I had to go over again, but we did. When I told my parents that we were married, it was okay. They cried she cried my mother cried a P: JW: Well, we started out one day to get married, and in the meantime, my mother looked in my pocketbook and found the wedding band. So she knew what we


TMP 071; Ward; Page 11 were going to do. So he came and he had hit a deer on the way, and he was late getting there. P: Down to North Carolina? JW: Yes, to go to Carolina. FW: This ha ppened in Middlesex the day of. JW: there, and in the meantime, she found out about do it that day. Then later on, about a week or two later, he came to pick me up to now or never . So we did. P: So where did you go in North Carolina? JW: Elizabeth City. P: How far away is that? JW: P: Oh, okay. JW: Mm hm. State line, not far. FW: know if we are legally married. [Laughter] Justice of the peace. It was the justice of the peace, so


TMP 071; Ward; Page 12 JW: Yeah, we have a license. FW: Yeah. P: So you just walk up to the courthouse and JW: You go to the courthouse, you do what you need to do, and then y ou go to a justice of the peace with whatever you got from the courthouse, and they married you. P: JW: Came home. He took me home and he went home. P: And that was it? JW: Mm hm. Then, my daddy was at home. Wh y I was afraid to say anything in front the next night and we told my mother, and my brother. I went home with him and P: Di JW: No, the day we got married, we took the other couple that was with us back to Deltaville, went to Middlesex, and put them out. Then he just took me home. I got He went home. P: When did you move in together? JW: About four or five days later.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 13 P: Where did you go? JW: Live with his mother and dad. P: How long did that last? JW: Probably about . maybe a year. Maybe a year. If I had to live there for forever, three boys. They were it for her. Anybody else was secondary. P: FW: P: When did you get your first place together? FW: In the [19]50s? JW: What? FW: Our first home. Our only home. JW: Oh, yeah. We moved in our house in February of 1950. His dad had bought up land, and he gave us the land and we built the house. When we moved in our bathroom, bu t I had had my first baby. So my baby was born 1950, we moved into the house. P: How long did you stay in that house? JW:


TMP 071; Ward; Page 14 P: Still there. You got running water now? FW: Everything. JW: Oh, yeah. We have a nice home. P: Have you built ont o it over the years? JW: saved, we added onto our house. And we continued doing that up until now. We do something every year to our home, too. We do have a nice home. We live o n the water. We can look out and see the Chesapeake Bay; we live on the bay. P: Was it close to where you went to work, Floyd? FW: Yes, the dock is right by my home where I tied my boat up at. Speaking of the creek where we live on, we have anywhere from t welve, fifteen sailboats, transit boats that are going to Florida from up north coming through. And they use living on the creek. P: FW: Well, occasionally, we did take a few trips to the Carolinas, or Skyline Drive, mountains. But JW: Maintaining the boats. FW: Yes, d id a lot of maintenance on the boats.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 15 P: What do you need to do to maintain the boats? FW: We more or less maintain it as a matter of cleaning it up, getting the loose paint off, taking the rotten wood out if there was any showing. But most of the work t, Connecticut and bought a ninety three foot boat, brought it down, and fixed it up for hauling grain. She was ninety three foot long, so it was a big boat. And I run her for, I guess, twelve, fourteen years. P: Is it expensive to keep up a boat? FW: Not but P: Propellers? FW: Well, we did that when we hauled up on the rails. If the wheels needed to come off back. P: What about what you did for fun in town? FW: going to the movies once in a while, not very often P: Where were the movies? FW: Well, one of them was in Mathews, and the other was in Urbanna. P:


TMP 071; Ward; Page 16 JW: We went to Mathews, basically, to see the movies. FW: Yes. Urbanna had a bowling alley, skating too much. It was kinda rough. JW: We raised children, we worked. [Laughter] FW: JW: maintenance at home that I could do. Wh en weekends come, I had most everything all done. P: JW: Went to church. P: Tell me about church. JW: Tell you about church? P: Mm hm. JW: FW: It was a Christian church, and we went just about every Sunday. We made a joined church together. P:


TMP 071; Ward; Page 17 JW: No, FW: Christian church. JW: We had a Baptist church in the neighborhood, and some of the ladies in the Baptist church knew that I was a Baptist, so they would come a fter me to join. So I told them that I was, and he did not belong to church. So I told him if he would join church, I would move my membership from my church in Mathews with P: The same JW: Same church. P: So Floyd, growing up, was your family religious? FW: Not so much. My mother and daddy used to go in their later years, in their JW: But they were good people. FW: I mean, yes, right JW: P: Okay. FW: JW: P: eel right?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 18 JW: P: What about your children? JW: very good boy. All my kids ar P: Do they live close? JW: Yes, all of them live close. P: All three of them live close? JW: Yes. P: Grandkids? JW: Nine. P: Nine grandkids. Great grandkids? JW: Five. P: Five. Great great grandkids? FW: Not yet. JW: Yes. P: Yes? Great great grandkids?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 19 JW: I have greats. Nine grands, five greats. P: JW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. FW: he three to work with. JW: something people for Thanksgiving. P: Tell me about Thanksgiving. JW: Lot of people at my house. P: Always? Everyone always comes over? JW: My mother had it for a few years, and then I started having it at my house one P: What year did that start about? JW: P: What do you do for Th anksgiving? JW: We just get together, have food, and eat supper. P: Are you the only one that cooks or everyone brings food? JW:


TMP 071; Ward; Page 20 P: What types of foods do you do for Thanksgiving? JW: Tu rkey, ham, my daughter in law does crab cakes, and have somebody that does salads, and anybody else extra brings a dish or whatever. P: What kind of stuffing do you do in your turkey? JW: ish. P: Who taught you how to cook? JW: I guess I probably learned more on my own and maybe from his mother, because from how his mother cooked. I cook a lot like her, and a little bit like my mother, too. But basically, I cook like me. P: What about you, Floyd? JW: FW: P: Ever, your entire life? FW: Well, on the boats I did some, but not a whole lot. Just to get by. P: Eating on the boat, what did you do? FW: Well, we had a table there, but a lot of times it was so rough rough, what I mean is the boat was pitching that you had a hard job to hold on. So I know my and you


TMP 071; Ward; Page 21 had no idea what he said. It was like a mumble. The noise was so bad, holding onto the table trying to eat. P: What food did you bring on the boat? FW: always eat before we le ft to come back to Deltaville. P: Mm hm. Is there anything particular to this part of Virginia Deltaville that you think is unique? FW: have so many summer people there now. Everywhere you look its homes. Every spot of water land in the P: People vacationing? FW: Vacationing, yes an d permanent, too. They make their homes there. We had a sailboat com JW: Yeah. FW: They went up to Nova Scotia in the summer, come back about a week or so ago Be back next year in the spring to my house again. P: who live there all year?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 22 JW: king up the road we live in a bi road and if you pick them up, they kinda latch on to you, you know? When they see you again, they come in on boats are very, very nice people. Very nice. W e live right on the water and the boats are probably from my house to where the boat sits is, what, two hundred feet? FW: About. JW: us. P: Has it always been that way or i s this a relatively new phenomenon? JW: This is kind new in the last probably twenty five to thirty years, because when we first moved to my house, to where we live in in at all. There were no transit boats. But it is now We had as many as nineteen sailboats in front of our house one day this week, and they are big boats. How big are they, Floyd? FW: foot class, catamarans, just every type: P: Mm hm. What about any crafts that are particular to this area? FW: Like what?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 23 P: and that was something particular to where he lived. JW: Not where we live. FW: It was a family of Wards JW: Boatbuilding. FW: duck carving. JW: that they do, although boatbuilding: I mean, we were into that. P: What about music? FW: P: No? FW: Not really. JW: Ou r grandson is very musically inclined. FW: He went to school in Georgia for music and voice. JW: He plays piano, but his mother and her family were musically inclined. The Wards are not musically inclined. [Laughter]


TMP 071; Ward; Page 24 P: What type of music did you like, though, or do you like? JW: P: Can you give me an example? JW: Oh, just good we like piano music, you know, but the music that the young people like today is so different from the music that we hard to like it. FW: about and not sing ] P: Do you listen to the radio? JW: Yeah, in the car. In the car, yeah. FW: T.V. mostly. JW: T.V. in the house. P: What about on the boat? FW: either steering or sleeping, especially when we got into the bigger boats. Running hundred and fifty foot long. It w as steel, it was a government boat, and we converted it to a grain haul to haul grain in it. It was nice, it was fixed up nice, it


TMP 071; Ward; Page 25 to Salisbury, Maryland. But I had some picture s; while of that boat that I was riding. P: That was the grain hauler? FW: Yes, that was the grain hauler. P: FW: Well, it came from the elevators that farmers brought it down, and they got storage there. The boats would go in and rotate, you know, take your turn, go to Baltimore, wherever they sent you. P: Were there seasons when you did certain things? FW: yo months, June, July. Whatever came in from the farms, you just had a chance to haul it. P: FW: We had a dredging season from December through March. P: FW: here and prove to people that you were honest. The big thing you had to do, these people that got you to plant seed oysters


TMP 071; Ward; Page 26 want P: FW: li ving. But now, we can pretty much our word is pretty much our bond especially here in the county. P: JW: Yep. FW: It was . JW: Your name. P: As far as people being able to trust you, did that help because your father did the same work? JW: Right. FW: I guess just more or less how you treat people, and you always treat people fair. Buying seed oysters, a lot of people would try to cheat people out of bushels of oysters and things of that nature, but we never practiced anything like that. You got paid for what you put out and that was it. P: What do you do with seed oysters? Can you tell me how that works?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 27 FW: Seed oysters are little oysters about an inch long, and we would take the m from JW: In water. P: In water on the property. FW: P: Then how long does it take for them to mature? FW: About two to three years. P: And how does that work money wise? They pay you to move it, or they pay you JW: They get somebody else to do that. P: Okay. FW: We were paid every trip. When they made the check out for the oysters, your freight was included in that. JW: He sold them the seed oysters, to them, and then that was their business from then on. P: Okay. So really, you just are responsible while you have it. FW: ight. P: Okay.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 28 FW: Somet imes it worked out good. I had eighteen hundred bushels one day. Then again, you stayed out the whole week while they get bad, rotten. P: Were there specific times when things got tough, or tougher than other times? FW: Well, October 1 was beginning of oyster season, so it was okay then for a couple making thing because things are so cheap. Crabs are making thing. You made a living. P: What was the biggest money making thing? JW: What about grain? FW: Grain I guess it was, but JW: This was later on in our life. FW: Yeah, after we got into it in the [19]60s, [19]70s, started to get the bushels were getting bigger. We had a sixty foot boat to start with; then we went to like a eighty foot boat, and then we went to the hundred and fifty foot boat, and then to barges and tugs. And of course, Perdue owns the barges now. JW: Perdue is the Perdue chicken people. FW: JW: They work for them, basically, and they buy the grain to feed the chicken s.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 29 P: Where do those go? JW: Salisbury, Maryland, which is where Perdue is based. FW: A lot of this grain is exported and it goes to Norfolk, mostly. They put it on ships and send it overseas, but other than that, Perdue consumes soybeans to make meal to P: What about oil prices? Does that affect you at all? JW: Yeah. FW: tugboats and things like that on, it P: Were there particular times when the oil prices really affected you, maybe in the [19]70s? FW: about even working, if we had to pay the prices they have to pay now. JW: But the prices of the things were kind of in sequence with what it cost you to live. to live back in the [19]40s and [19]50s and [19]60s. But today, the money that we would make in a year, you


TMP 071; Ward; Page 30 FW: eight thousand dollars a year. Very small salary. Then as you worked and progressed and got bigger and got up, twenty five, fifty, forty, but never as much as a hundred my whole life. It was getting old wore out and tired, so we just more or less turned i t over to the children. P: FW: They bought the boats, the barges that we owned. JW: And boat P: All of them went to your kids? JW: They bought them. They bought the business. FW: Yeah, they bought the busine JW: FW: Yes. P: How did you decide it was time to retire? FW: Well, I was sixty three years brothers working together.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 31 P: FW: Well, I did pretty much a lot of fishing when I first retired. I did a lot of JW: Pleasure fishing. FW: Yeah, pleasure fishing: trawling for rockfish, catching spot fish and just things that was about all I did, actually w orking around the house. JW: P: Where have y ou been? JW: n to Nova Scotia about three times, went on lots of bus trips, been to Florida lots of times. Whatever comes up. FW: We went on one trip up to St. Lawrence, Montreal, and ended in Norfolk. So that was a nice trip. JW: you know. Been to the mountains, Skyline Drive, just stuff. [Laughter] P: What about around the house?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 32 JW: What do we do around the house? Cut grass, work in the yard, clean house, just stuff. [Laughter] FW: She makes quilts. P: You do? FW: Yes, sir. JW: Yeah. P: When did you start to making quilts? JW: book class in Williamsburg. You know where Williamsburg is? P: Mm hm. When was that? JW: Twenty five, thirty years ago. A nd we went, we did that, then we made a quilt, and then . I just have kept with it, just to do something with my hands all the do something, do handiwork. P: What about you, Floyd? JW: He reads. FW: I do a lot of reading, yes. P: What do you read?


TMP 071; Ward; Page 33 FW: century or seventeenth, s a lot of fiction in it, but I still the Eastern Shore, Cambridge, Maryland, all up and down the East. We have t. P: Mm hm. FW: I like to read a lot about them. P: Do you have a favorite book? FW: I guess not particularly a favorite one, but some of my favorites just when they JW: FW: P: What about you, Jean? JW: I like fiction. [Laughter] JW: I like fiction.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 34 FW: around the world. It is a boat made out of cement, call it Ferro cement You interested to get into it and find out what happens. When you deal with drugs, I P: Well, I want to thank you both very m great. Is there anything else you want to add? FW: on the bay, going into Carolinas with boats and things of that nature. But tha the same thing over and over anyway. You know, you make one trip say, from Tappahannock to Baltimore, the next trip is just like that one unless something happens. JW: No variety. FW: y unload and you come back. And I was making about two and a half loads a week, just one of the boys with me. To maintain a boat that big a hundred and fifty foot and to maintain the engine, change the oil, do everything on it with just my little boy with me. They was probably fifteen, sixteen, eighteen. They cook a little bit. JW: I would hope so.


TMP 071; Ward; Page 35 FW: Yeah. [Laughter] FW: P: FW: what people say, anyway. But JW: The end. [Laughter] P: Okay. FW: P: [End of interview] Transcribed by: Jessica Taylor May 10, 2015 Audit edited by: Zubin Kapadia, June 2, 2015 Final edited by: Jessica Taylor

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