Interview with Elizabeth Haskell, 2016 July 9

Material Information

Interview with Elizabeth Haskell, 2016 July 9
Haskell, Elizabeth ( 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
Rural life
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Virginia -- Gloucester


Beth Haskell, owner of a grocery store on Main Street in Gloucester Courthouse, discusses the strong female role models and business owners in her life. She also discusses change over time in rural Gloucester County.
General Note:
To access audio version of this interview, click the Downloads tab at the top of the page.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Holding Location:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
TMP 109 Elizabeth Haskell 7-9-2016 ( SPOHP )


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EYG0L2CJP_C9DWZ0 INGEST_TIME 2017-06-28T21:12:26Z PACKAGE AA00054702_00001


The Foundation for The Gator N ation 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 correct ions to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the or i ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is 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. Th e draft trans cript can also later undergo a final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam progr am specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168.


TMP 109 Interviewee: Elizabeth Ha skell Interviewer: Jessica Taylor Date: July 9, 2016 T: I am interviewing Beth Haskell. This is Jessica Taylor in Gloucester Courthouse, H: Elizabeth F. Haskell. T: Okay, and when were you born? H: October 10, 1950. T: And where were you born? H: In Richmond, Virginia. T: H: Warren Franklin, and he was a civil servant at the Naval Weapons Station. My mother is Cary Franklin, and she was a teacher and then an extension agent. T: iewed her. Okay, so can you tell me about growing up here in Guilford Courthouse? H: I did not grow up in Gloucester Courthouse. I have family that was here, and my mother grew up most of her life in Gloucester Courthouse, but I grew up in an area called C lay Bank, which is on the York River. T: Okay. So where did you go to school? H: I went to Botetourt, which is the elementary school right here in town because at the time when I was growing up there were only three elementary schools. T: Okay. Can you t ell me what it was like to go to the Botetourt School?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 2 H: It was great fun. I mean, back then it was totally different than it is now. There were two buildings and one held the first through third grade and then the other building held the fourth through s eventh grade. And you know, you had a great big old gym and all that. So it was fun, lots of fun. T: Okay. Do you remember any teachers that stick out to you? H: I remember Wyn Rhodes was always one of my favorites. Her son now runs Office Supply down in the shopping center. She was one of my favorites. I guess Mrs. Thomas, who was my first grade teacher kindergarten back then. So I guess those two would be my favorites T: Okay. So what did you do for fun as a child? H: Well, sinc e I lived on a farm, a lot of outdoor activity and swimming. My grandfather had a boat and we went out most every weekend and spent the weekend on the boat. So a lot of water activities. There was a lot of being with the chickens and the pigs and all that kind of stuff and out in the woods. T: Okay. Did your parents ever take you up to Gloucester Courthouse? H: Oh, sure. Like I said, my family we had family in the Courthouse. My great great aunt and then my great aunt owned the Hotel Botetourt, which is now the Botetourt Museum. So we spent a lot of time at the hotel with family and friends and things like that. We also went to the Presbyterian Church, so we came in every Sunday for church and that type of thing. Because of living out sort of in the count ry a lot of my friends lived in town, so you went to play with your friends in town.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 3 T: Sure. So tell me about the Botetourt Hotel. What went on? What was the scene like? H: The Botetourt Hotel was I exact on the date. Anyway, but my great great aunts bought it from the previous owners, which was very unusual at the time because they were both single females and they ran it for a number of years. Th en when they passed away, it was given to my great aunt Gussy. She ran it up until the mid [19]50s. Som e people lived there full time, had little like apartments. But a lot of it was traveling salesmen back then, which you had a whole lot of. It was a plac e where people came on Wednesday night or Thursday night and played cards. It was where dances there, particularly during the war for the servicemen and things like that. So i t was just sort of the hub of the community. Again, sort of unusual that my great aunt that ran it, she never married either. So she was a proprietress, which was sort of unusual back then. T: Yeah. So did your mother ever tell you anything about the dance s that the U.S.O. put on or anything like that? H: ing it for the community. That it that, so that it was a good time had by all. I t hink it was a lot of fun back then. T: Okay. Do you remember your great aunt Gussy? H: Yes, very much so.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 4 T: What was she like? H: Pretty awesome lady. I used to laugh, which this was way before your time, but back in the [19]60s or so, Villagers and John Meyer they were what you wanted to wear. Everybody wanted t o have Villagers and John Meyer and I used to laugh that my Aunt Gussy had more Villagers and John Meyer skirts and sweaters and blouses than I did. She was a very contemporary lady and liked to dress well and all that. A lot of fun. Took me a lot of places and things like that. So yeah, she was a pretty neat lady. T: Did you ever meet the set of ladies that owned before or was that before H: Yes, I remember them vaguely. One sort of funny memor y was, I had three great aunts: Hilda, Edith, and Gussy. One of the great great aunts died. Of course, the tradition then was that you were laid out in your home. Well, the Hilda pick ing me up to look at Aunt Emmy, and me screaming bloody murder because I probably was like four. [Laughter] So ever since then, I like closed caskets very much. But anyway, so I grew up with my grandfather and grandmother and my three aunts. A lot of it, g ot close family here in Gloucester, which wa s nice. T: That is nice. Do you remember any of the permanent residents that lived in the Botetourt Hotel? H: Yeah, now names are probably gonna, eh, me. But there was one lady that lived there. She was a widow, and just she would always have cookies or tea or


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 5 something when I was in. Because I would go in and maybe spend the weekend with Gussy. The n there was another lady, Mrs. Bond. She did not live at the hotel but she lived next door upstairs where what would be the old bank now. The Beauty Vault is there, and she lived upstairs in one of the apartments there. I always went over there and visited with her. She was the local telephone operator because back then, you had to be plugged into whatever phone you want is today and you just get everybody. So she knew all the local gossip because she could listen on all the lines. So she knew where everybody was, who everybody was with, what so it was always interesting to talk to her. I can remember one time my mom saying that when she called home from college, would plug her into home. If they were sitting out o n the porch at the hotel, she of small community that you lived in, that everybody really did know everything you were doing. But anyway, yeah. T: Wow. Do you remember H: Mm hm, sure, yeah. T: Which one did you go or did you go to both? H: Absolutely went to both. Depended on whether you wanted a chicken salad sandwich, or whether you wanted a milkshake or whatever. But yes, again because of the hotel right there, they were both sort of across the street. I think


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 6 can remember sitting at the counter of both of them and having lunch. T: Okay. What was G H: Gray ran it pretty much by himself. He had a couple of ladies out front that did the T: If you were to, like, go in, who would be sitting in the booths? Were there regulars, or ? H: Oh, sure, I think so. And again, you had a lot of people that traveled through. There were a lot of traveling salesme n commodities were gotten back then, that you had to order them and then they would come in. So, yeah, traveling salesmen, local businessmen at lunchtime, the lawyers, the doctors, everybody from around the court circle, that type of thing. T: Oh, okay. Were there, like, teenagers or did you go there as a teenager or anything? H: Sure. Not by then, by the time I was a tee was about closing. I moved. When the bypass came in, they moved down to the shopping center


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 7 whe re the building, where the auto afternoons just like you see on television. [Laughter] T: H: It was w just cozy, I mean, comfortable. Most of the time if you went in, you knew everybody. You certainly knew all the staff and that type of thing. T: H: Not really, just that we wen t and enjoyed it, and had sodas. T: It was fine. H: Yeah. T: there any in particular that you or your parents were invested in, like went to often? H: Not really. I mean, we used W that most everyone used. All the accountants and lawyers and all that were right on the circle back then. So most e verybody went to one of those. The grocery store was right next door to the a been the pharmacy.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 8 they had a daughter that was my age. So you were free to go and ru n wherever you wanted to when you were little. So if I wanted to go over to the five and ten cent store, I could because everybody knew me along the way and back and forth and all that. Through the years, there were other businesses. Way, way back, there w and rotated and the clean ers was where the tea room is now. Then, that was bulldozed. That was probably the oldest building, one of the oldest buildings. The or Silco was what it was then, bought it, and like the day after they bought it, they bulldozed it. That was before was. So it was a cleaners, but it had also been a funeral home and some other things. I can remember going in the cleaners there before it was bulldozed. T: Yeah, what was that like? How did you know it was one of the older buildings? H: and when it was built and all of that. We had the A&P store and the Colonial across the street. But that was long gone before I came along.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 9 T: Hm. Do you remember before the five and dime store got there, or was that before your time? H: T: Yeah. H: T: Okay. H: That was a very old yeah. That had been there for years and years. They closed probably in the [19]60s. T: H: of mercantile, because it had everything and it would order everything, so it had everything from needle t o threads to toys to fabric and not food products, but any of your staples that you would need. T: Who owned it? H: Well, it was owned originally by Mr. Tucker, and then he two daughters and the had either passed away or whatever, Burt Smith took over running it until he closed it. After that, he was treasurer of Gloucester Co unty. T: Oh, wow. Did you know him well or did you have memories of him?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 10 H: Sure, because he was the same age as my mom. My mom will be ninety three at the end of this month, so all of those people are in that same age group. So yeah, I mean, knew Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Later on, they lived in the house right as you turn to go into the hospital, the brick house. Now the hospital owns it but T: H: My doctor back then doctor. No, he lived down in Zanoni. T: Okay, and he traveled, right? Like he would travel to you, or would you H: Oh, sure. Yeah, I mean, if you were sick and he needed to, he would come to you. B ut he had an office and you made appointments and all that kind of thing, too. But he did. He birthed babies and all of that kind of thing also. T: Okay. So going around the Main Street area, do you remember the people that ran the Watkins Florist? H: Yea h. T: You do? H: Oh, yeah. T: What do you remember about them? H: That they were just wonderful people, good people. I can remember he was a really sort of big guy and he always had on a white apron because he did florist


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 11 work and stuff. She was sort of s hort and plump and usually also had on an apron. They were jus t a huge part of the community. T: Do you remember what race relations were like when you were growing up? H: Sure. I might wear rose colored glasses, but it was just no big deal. Like I said, t he Watkins lived right next door to the hotel. Down at Clay Bank, we lived side animosity. There was no I sat at the table with them. People say, oh, well, you t eat tog ether. Well, t we all sat down and ate lunch together. My grandfather had Jasper who was a field hand I believe, this is just my whatevers, that because Gloucester has really never been since the Revolutionary War and th e Civil War a rich community, we all had to work together to survive, whether it was out in the fields I mean, literally, when I was weeds out of the soybean crop. It was the whole community. Black or white, a lot of the people that had t that T.C. Walker got his law degree from a white lawyer because he read for him. Like I say, I might have rose too young to remember. But from my perspective, just because of Glouces ter


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 12 T: Do you remember T.C. Walker or the T.C. Walker House? Had he died by H: He had died. My mom remembers him, but he was too I was too young. I kn ew some of his family, but not him. T: Do you remember the T.C. Walker House or the black hotel? H: The black hotel? No. The T.C. Walker House, yes. T: Oh, do you remember anything about the T.C. Walker House in particular like who lived there, anything like that? H: I mean, I know that his daughter lived there for a while. I have the book he wrote any like I was never in that house during his time or anything like that. T: remember going there ever? H: [Laughter] T: Yeah. What kind of car did your family have? H: Oh, Lord. Let me think. My grandfather owned the first Ford M otor Company in


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 13 So we always drove Fords pretty much until he well, even after he sold it, we drove Fords because of just sort of family tradition and that. T: What was the H: It was just Lawson Motor Company, yeah. T: Okay. Do you remember a lot about your grandfather? H: I do. One of my absolute favorite people. He died when was in his sixties, but I used to ride on the back of the tract or with him, he taught me how to swim, he was a very big part of my young life. He died when I was like in sixth grade, I guess, something like that. But just a very great individual, very active in the community and in his church. He helped start the Glou cester Fair Association. Yeah, so. T: What was the effect of his business of the community? H: Well, like I say, it was the first car dealership on Main Street. So obviously, that would have an effect. Again, I would have been too young to know what it was My grandmother taught most of the people how to drive. That was sort of her little T: s amazing. How did you learn how to drive? H: Probably my grandfather. My grandfather adored anything that was new and unusual and any type of machine or anything. Like, h e had a motorcycle until he


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 14 wrecked it and different t her how and then went on from there T: Did she teach you how? H: Oh, no. By then, she was much too old to have taught me how to drive. T: H: There was no lot. T: H: S o they sort of came in or you ordered them or whatever or maybe he had one or two. And he did all of the mechanical work on them and all of that. I can remember being in it when I was really young, but not much beyond just the fact that I was sort of in it T: Okay. Okay. Do you remember how other people felt about having cars around Main Street for H: No, because by the time see, I was born in 1950. The novelty had sort of worn s and T Models and things like that. T: ish? H: No way! T: No?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 15 H: No, more like, oh my God, probably more like fifty or sixty years. T: From 1950? H: Well, this is two thousand T: Oh, I was talking from when you were born. Okay. Okay. H: Okay, I was thinking T: Yeah. H: Like I say, we got gas there, we knew the family, and yeah, so I grew up knowing the Texaco station. T: Do you remember the attendant? H: T: Okay. H: I can remember they all wore uniforms, they all wore the little hats, things like that. T: So was it J.C. Brown or was it the James family when you H: Well, th T: Okay. H: That would have been his grandfather. T: Okay. So what do you remember about that family?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 16 H: James are a little bit older than I am as fa r as school age kind of things. Brownie was a cheerleader. I thought that was really cool when she was a cheerleader involved. T: Okay. Do you have any specific memories of the gas station? I think they sold hotdogs at some point, they had a ladies lounge. H: Not really. Unh uh Unh uh T: Al right. The furniture stores on Main Street. Do you remember any thing about those in particular? Did you ever shop there? H: Tri County, sure. Over the years, our family has shopped there for years and years and years for sure. The Calvin Hotel next to it, I do remember going in there as a teenager and getting a grille d cheese sandwich. Again, it was another it was a great place to go afterschool and get a soda or a grilled cheese or something like that. T: Can you tell me more about the that before. H: Gazette this week of the soda fountain at the Calvin but they had the downstairs was a soda fountain and tables and chairs and a little restaurant, and


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 17 t really know anybody that rented County. T: Oh, okay. Huh. Are there any other buildings that you remember that you would want to or any memories you have of being on Main Street or the Courthouse circle with your family or as a kid? Anything that happened or anything like that? H: not really thinking of all of the things U: Morning! H: Good morning! Things that you probably should remember. [Laughter] I remember the bank when it was across the street next to the hotel and going in there. Then I remember when it moved. Well, I real whole lot of it being but when it was across the street, the bank president was a After the hotel sold, my Aunt Gussy would drive him o was president of the bank in West Point, so like once a week she would drive him and that was fun a nd neat So my Aunt Hilda raised daffodils off of Duval, and sent the daffodils to the northern market. She had a lot of land, which is now mainly houses, so I can remember picking daffodils in bunches of thirteen and tying ed off to Baltimore and New York or Philadelphia.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 18 T: H: this point in time when it comes to bein g small business es That we survive, and that the next generation will have at least some of what I had and what my boys opportunities, the same, where they can go with their dolla r or whatever and go comfortable environment to do that. My kids used to literally in the summertime have breakfast and go. There were four or five other boys, and they played in the wo one of the other families or my family for lunch, and then back outside until it got dark. about where they are, what th have somebody necessarily looking over their shoulder every second. Maybe I things that could happen. independence that they had from being able to just sort of roam the Courthouse not have had and get a soda and drink and then go on to the next house and visit. I just hope that continues. W hen I see the young people on Main Street now, and the


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 19 strollers and whatever, I love it because that means hopefully it will continue and which sounds silly and petty maybe, shop on Main Street, you can watch and see the other towns that are being just T: during the hol idays, for example, it gets really were children and when you were a child? H: Oh, yeah. Years ago, the tradition was that all the businesses put out Christmas trees with the big, old fashioned fat colored lightbulbs. So yeah, it has been that I was growing up, we all had and they were live trees with the great big fat colored bulbs on them. So yeah, t T: or treating on Main and stuff? H: Yeah. T: What did you guys do for Halloween when you were a kid? H: Well again, I lived in the country so there was not a whole lot of Halloween going on because everything was too far. My parents sort of felt what most people did, was they got together with a friend of theirs and everybody hit poor little Main Street and Duval and Lewis Avenue and t hey were just besieged because there was no or


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 20 or treating just because I d or treat. [Laughter] T: history and H: started the Daffodil Festival. T: Wow! H: The Daffodil Festival was started by a group of people: Brent and Becky Heath, much different. It is fabulous that it has endeavored and endured as long as it has. Like I community and of revenue in the community. So to see it sort of come back even shipping tons and tons of things I mean, certainly the Heaths are with the bulbs and all of that, but literally fresh flowers were shipped out of here in big, long, brown boxes. I can see them sitting at the I can remember seeing the crates stacked up, getting They just put them on the bus and took them up to Baltimore neat to see it come back. T: Yeah, absolutely.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 21 H: T: like high school or changes over time in the community, o r anything like that? H: Well, I was in the high school that is no longer here, the one that was hit by the tornado. So I graduated in 1969, which is back to the subject we were talking about. That was the year that we totally integrated. So T.C. Walker be came the middle school and the high school went from being eight through twelve to nine through twelve. Again, there were a couple of very minor, stupid incidents, but thing t hat I realized, particularly when we went back and tried to have a class reunion, most of the blacks that I realized, they really their senior year was destroyed. They really wanted to graduate from T.C. Walker. That was their school. That was their heri tage. That was their lifestyle. So their senior year, they would just as well forget it because they were torn from their school that they loved and stuck at Gloucester High School. So when reunion time rolled around, they had no desire to come back. We ha d had black families in the schools way before that, and those would come back because they had made connections and they had friends and they were on the basketball team and the football team and cheerleader or whatever. But the ones that were sort of rip ped out of their lot. [Laughter] They had much rather had their senior year the way they had thought they were always g oing to have their senior year.


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 22 T: When you were a kid, did you ever hear about an incident with T.C. Walker High School H: Unh uh T: No? Okay. Did you ever, when you were a kid, interact with people that were T.C. Walker High School students before you graduated, or before they integrated, rather. H: basketball league, their own whatevers, all of that. So there was r eally no but did I know high school blacks and whites? Oh yeah, absolutely. I had friends that were part of the community at Clay Bank we did do a lot I think 4 H sort of maybe integrated a little bit befor e the high school did, or the schools did. T here are some, because of 4 H, that I knew earlier on because we did activities in 4 H together. T: H. So when do you feel like that was integrated? H: we started doing some things together. I mean, Freedom Goode was the extension agent. My mother became an extension agent my senior year, so it had to be before that. See, Freedom was the black extension agent, and he was the head agent. That had to be ma ybe in [19]66 or [196]7 something like that, after Mr. Birdsall passed away. T: What were some of the activities you guys were doing together?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 23 H: Well, demonstrations and judging and things like that. So I got vague T: remember? H: T: Portia? Okay. How do you spell that? H: P o r t i a. T: Okay. Okay. H: Hampton. Another good person to ask would be with the sch ool system for years and years and years. She would probably remember a lot. T: Okay. H: Better than I would, as far as the school stuff. T: Okay. I will go ask. Is there anyone that you can think of that we should talk to about Main Street more generally ? H: I mean, I thought of have you talked with Ms. Smith of M or any of the girls at the florist ?


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 24 T: Unh uh H: Because I think she would probably remember a lot T: Okay. H: Brownie could give you any and all the information about T: H: T: Oh, okay. [Laughter] Fair enough. Alright. H: But I mean, her daughters run the florist now. T: Okay. H: So you could go in and talk to Karen and ju st see if her mom would be up to doing it. T: recorder? H: T: Okay. Thank you. [End of interview]


TMP 109; Haskell; Page 25 Transcribed by: Jessica Taylor, August 19, 2016 Audit edited by: Patrick Daglaris, October 19, 2016 Final edited by: Patrick Daglaris, October 19, 2016