Interview with Jean Diggs Smith, 2016 July 10

Material Information

Interview with Jean Diggs Smith, 2016 July 10
Smith, Jean Diggs ( Interviewee )
Dombrowski, Diana ( 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
United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews


Jean talked about her life in Mathews, where she grew up, and Gloucester Courthouse, where she moved and owned and operated a florist shop for decades. Her twin daughters now own the shop. She talks about economic and social changes she has seen in the area over the course of her life, and the development of her successful business downtown.
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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 113 Jean Diggs Smith 7-10-2016 ( SPOHP )


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TMP 113 Interviewee: Jean Diggs Smith Interviewer: Diana Dombrowski Date: July 10, 2016 S: D: S: But I moved, of course, when we got marr population. I mean, I think that what happened I think when they took the toll off of the bridge, the people just started flocking over here like crazy, and it just I mean, it just made a difference in how many people live over here now than when we first moved here. And I can truthfully say that like, even in my own churc noticed in Gloucester C know two great big developments are coming in. D: Oh, really? Where? S: I know one where VEPCO is, down that lane down there, a piece of property has been sold, and a condominium and maybe a town house or something. All this is know that there is another one. And every time you build, the b oard of supervisors okays something like this, just more people businesses because the more people you have the more business you have. times people will see, oh,


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 2 business and then that cuts your business. You see what I mean? D: Uh huh. S: many restaurants in uble finding somewhere to eat now. [Laughter] D: there. S: are not. Most of them are really, really good I laugh because I really love Taco Bell. [Laughter] to get one. D: Oh, wow. S: not sure t think the ground has been broken yet. But anyway, and you take Main Street Gloucester Courthouse it looks really nice now. The know one Christmas every business on Main S treet had a Christmas tree in front of their business, all lit up different things at Christmas, almost everybody on Main Street does something with their business. [Interruption in interview]


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 3 S: One hous e in between. D: Yeah. The church is beautiful. S: D: With the stained glass windows there. Yeah. S: D: And you went today, too? S: I went this morning. D: Yeah. S: Yeah. D: some info for you to start off. Like how you spell your name, and that kind of thing, because people will be typing this up. S: Okay. D: Yeah. So could you tell me your full name and how to spell it? S: e a n. My middle name is, if you want to use initial or i g g m i t h. D: Is y our family from Diggs, Virginia? S: No. I was raised down at actually, it was Laban at th e time, but actually in Onemo in Mathews County.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 4 D: How long did you live there? S: Well, from the time I was born until the time I got married, which I was twenty, almost twenty we got ma rried, Ken and I lived with his folks for almost six years in the home D: said, though, that you own ed a business? S: That was 1964. D: What did the downtown look like at that time? S: Similar to what it looks lik e now. Businesses have changed think what was in there where them now. D: Okay. S: the side of on the other side of the Gazette Journal there was an Emma Jane shop, which was a ladies see the furniture store was there but at one time on the side of the


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 5 furniture was a motel. T obably one of the first motels out on Main Street right in modern times. D: O h, o kay. Was that the Botetourt Hot el or another one? S: No, it was called the Calvin Hotel. D: Oh, okay. S: I think the Botetourt Hotel was probably where the office buildings are right you know when you get ready to go around that circle? D: Uh huh. S: And that office building there tha t has a porch all the way across it, I think that was called the Botetourt Hotel. That probably was the olde st one of all. But that was really even before my time. I w it was there but that was even before my time. The Calvin Hotel was there, was at the other end, was the first business coming in to the Courthouse on the right hand side, and there was a Clem ents owned it, which is where Dr. Lee is. None of those businesses that are along there now were all recent, new businesses. Across, The Gazette Journal there. There bui ldings. And, of course, now ill Shopping much familiar with any of the area.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 6 D: years with Jess. So we were in Mat Gloucester this year and last. S: Okay. So you know a little bit about places? D: I do, yeah. S: D: Uh huh. Yeah. What was the process of opening your shop like? S: Well, when I opened up, I opened up in jewelry place or a little gift shop. And then the first little building there I opened up in that shop, the first litt le building on that not the first buildings that are on that side are was a, I think a laundry was in there. They tore that building down and then Dollar General was in there, and I thin buildings that you get to, I was i n that first little building. I t was just very, very small. I know my husband and I took out a loan, I think we took out thirty five hundred dollars and opened up a business. D: Wow. S: I went to florist school in North Carolina, stayed one week. A nd I'll be very frank with you: if I knew then what I know now I would never have done it.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 7 D: Really? S: And I'll tell you why. It's a holiday that takes everything away fr om your family. I loved flowers. I started growing and raising when I was about ten, eleven, twelve years old. I could plant the seed, and many that they had two little leaves coming up, po pping up out of the ground, I could tell you whether it was a marigold or azalea or something else. I just loved flowers, I've always loved flowers. When the girls started school actually three of them started school. I have a set of twins that are in th e flower shop, and the oldest one lives in Williamsburg. She started to school the year I think when we opened the maybe she opened it, she went to school the year that we opened the business. But anyway, it didn't take me long to find out that every hol iday is your busiest time. But what we found out, we brought the children to the shop, many a night they slept i n a flower box until we got our work done and brought them home. But, I do. And I loved the people. Oh, I miss seeing my old customers. I dare sa y that if I went up there now, that I would say ninety percent of the people that come in, I wouldn't even know who they are. D: Wow. S: Because I've been away now from the flower shop almost since 2000. My husband had congestive heart failure in 2001 and he really did not want to be left alone too m uch. So I didn't go up too much. I didn't go up as much as I did. And I have two very capable twin daughters that manage and run that flower shop, and they do a wonderful job. In fact, I think the shop looks bet ter now than it ever has looked because they have younger ideas and they're younger than I am, of


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 8 course. They've just done real well with the shop. The shop really looks nice. But t he Main Street like I said, so many businesses have come and gone and s ome have stayed. I mean, the Gazette Journal is still there, and then oppo site them is where the Emma Jane shop was. I guess that's where Davenport and Company, they had a I don't know whether Davenport and Company have an office over here now. They were there. I think maybe something is connected with Chesapeake Bank. I'm not sure who's in that building but I know it's an office building now. And it was an Emma Jane shop. Next to m e, where I am now let's see, what was it? It was John Booker, Mr and Mr s. Booker, owned that. T hey had a business there. I guess it was an all around store. I know they had clothing and that kind of stuff in there. And then when they went out, Pete Shepard and his brother had a clothing store there. And then after that Mr. Mo ffett, Howard Moffett had a used furniture place. And when he decided to go out of and opposite us was a children's store. I mean, it's been a lot of stores that have really changed. Was a children's store called something Rainbow. I know Susan Moffett r an it. When she went into business I bought her, more or less bought her inventory and opened up a children's store. D: Oh. S: And when we opened up the children's store, that is when Walmart moved in, and we never did do very much with it. So I decided to just sell the inventory. And we did: when we sold the inventory, even selling it at almost nothing, we gave away what we didn't sell to Goodwill or somethin g. We only had about four boxes. W e didn't have very much left. We really did love getting rid of o ur


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 9 inventory. It was good inventory, it was really good. Then o ne of my daughters, that's when she decided that she was going to open up Up South, which is a young people's, like you, for clothing. D: Okay. S: I don't reckon you've been in there or not. D: I think I might've passed it yesterday, yeah. I was down there just yesterday for lunch. S: I was trying to think what was on the corner before the jewelry store, the Silver Box opened up. Edwards, Edwards had a variety store, and then some ladies had I think they had used stuff in there But on the other side, I'm not sure where Kelsick Gardens is Are they on the other corner? D: Yeah, they're at the far corner there. S: D: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I just talked to Patricia yesterday. S: And before him was Be ll Motors. I remember, you know, when we went into business it was Bell Motors, and then when Be ll Motors went out of business Ken Houtz bought it, and, of course, Ken Houtz sold. I don't know whether he still owns the building or he rents or what, because he's gone down on 17 now. So it's been a lot of changes I mean, there was a road where the when you get to the next corner, there was a bookstore there, but before the bookstore there was a grocery store at one time. There's been so many changes. I can't, in my head,


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 10 I'm sure that there are some in there that can remember better than I can, I just know that there's been so much changes on Main Street with turnover of different bus inesses and all since I've been there. I know when this building that we 're in, the two parts went up for sale, I wanted to purchase it, and my husband wouldn't my husband was never one to take chances. He was always afraid that he would neve r I guess he was from the old school h e wouldn't be able to pay for it. I don't think it was but fifty or fifty thousand dollars. I had paid that over and over and over again since then in rent. [Laughter] But anyways, right now it probably would be a headache for me. But I was just trying to think. I know going on further of course, the Coca Cola building I don't ever remember that. I t was a Coca Cola building and they I don't know whether they did the Coca Cola s there. They probably did. But anyway, I know t hey trucked them, the trucks were there and all. And then on the other side was another car dealership. And that was Oldsmobile and they were run by the Clement s. Then on the other side is that restaurant, Courthouse Restaurant, and as far as I know, that I can remember, that has always been a restaurant. And I think almost everybody that has been in there as long as they were in there have done pretty well. Dif ferent people have owned it and run it, but I think almost everybody has done pretty well in ther e. And, of course, one of the biggest changes now is going down to Edge Hill Shopping Center. I wish you could've seen that, say, three or four years ago. It has completely it's a beautiful shopping center now. It doesn't look anything like it did four o r five years ago. D: Oh, really?


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 11 S: Mr. Hall has really done a wonderful job with remodeling it and all. And, of course, the stores in there have changed, too. I mean, there's been so many changes in there. There was a local owned groc ery store called Wild est Food s that was in there that everybody just loved. I mean, it's just been s o many different is one of of course, she's on the other end. And Br oaddus and Hall Furniture S tore was in there. And then another furniture store moved in there, and I know they've closed. I don't know what's in that store now. That's probably where Mr. Hall has see, since I don't drive and don't go up there as much as I used to, I just don't know what's in those stores. D: s at all. I'm just curious because we talked to a couple people who say, you know, they can't remember what used to be exactly where either, or maybe what's there now. But they remember going in, downtown used to be you could get everyt hing you wanted righ t downtown, stuff like that. S: You could, you could. I'm trying to think, there's a lot of restaurants. D: Yeah. S: There's a lot of restaurants downtown. D: Yeah, there are. I wondered since you had your own flower shop, how did the big daffodil capital that this area is, how did that figure into what you were doing? S: Of course, we had the Daffodil Festival. D: Yeah. S: And in fact, one year I was on it and I was the grand marshal.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 12 D: Oh, really? S: Uh huh. And it could not have rained any harder. We had a nor'easter that came up the coast Oh, it was of course, it eventually rained and that ended the day. [Laughter] I was so disappointed. But anyway, and you can't tell one year it was cancelled because of snow. You can't depend on the weather. The y used to have it, regardles s, the first weekend in April. N ow they may have it the first weekend in April but they make sure that it doesn't fall on Easter weekend. After it started, once in a while it would fall on Easter weekend, so they changed it. Thi s past year it was the first weekend in April. I can't say that the daffodil has any I love daffodils. Oh, I love 'em. I don't know of any flowe r in the world that smells and almost anybody can grow them around here, and moles won't bother the bulb s. [Laughter] I know if you plant some tulip bulbs, most of the time, unless you're lucky, and you have moles in your yard, the moles are going to get those bulbs. They love those bulbs, and lily bulbs, but they do not like daffodil bulbs. [Laughter] I lov e daffodils. O f course, that weekend is real nice. If you have a real good weather weekend, we have a real good crowd. It seems to me like last I don't know that I've heard what this year was, but it seemed to me like last year I think they said they had about twenty thousand people. D: Wow. S: It was a right good crowd. If you have the weather a lot of people come for that Daffodil F estival. It started out being Saturday and now it's increased to Saturday and Sunday, Sunday afternoon. I think they do ha ve a race on Sunday morning, which I really don't approve of.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 13 D: Oh, really? S: Well, I think everything should be if they're going to have a race let it be on Saturday. I don't think you should have anything like that on church time, you know. I mean, t hat's the way I feel about it. But t hey have a lot of different festivals that really benefit Main Street, they really do. But I'll tell you who another good one to talk to. D: Okay. S: Is Calvin Booker. D: Okay S: At the Calvin Hotel. D: Okay. Do you kno w how I can get in touch with him? S: I'll look for his phone number for you. D: Okay. S: It's Tri County Furniture. D: Yeah, that was one of the buildings that the foundation asked us to find about. S: Yeah, I know. Well, I think, from what I can understa nd, they had a sister that passed away this past year, and someone told me that she would not let them say that. But anyway, I have heard that they are planning on repairing it. It doesn't need a whole lot. I t mainly needs a new awning. A new awning on it


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 14 would really make a big difference. And where the Calvin Hotel was if they would just do something with the front of that it would really make a big diffe rence. But I tell you o ne thing: they were really aggravated with the county when they widened the sidewalks up there. You cannot get into their building and walk up to their front door and go into their front door. D: Really? S: Unh uh. They have built up that sidewalk that a nd it's a railing that you cannot get in there that way. You have to go to the side of the building and come down the side of the building. It's in the front, but it's to the side of the building to get in. And I know that really bothered them a whole lot. I don't think it was right. T hey did not need to do that sidewalk like that, but i t was done that way. Don't look at my clock, my clock is not right. D: Oh, okay. I thought I heard a door open all the way down there. S: It will go off but it's not right. I've got to call the man to come and fix it. The little hand, second hand is not attached right and it won't keep right time. D: Okay. S: It's running but it's just not right time. They were very upset about that, I know at the time. D: Would you mind S: H is father owned, opened that business, and I think he would know a lot about the business. I think his memory and all, he and his brother both, Al and Calvin


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 15 both, are still in that furniture business, and I think that they would be good people to talk t o. D: d be great. It's great that your daughters took over your business, too. Because I know that a lot of buildings down there have been in families, you know, for generations for a little while. S: Well, the thing of it is of course, when t hey graduated from high school they went to Longwood, stayed five days. Yeah I think it was five days. Karen, one of them lost seven pounds in five days. When they came home they went to Busch Gardens and worked until they closed, which at that time was in October, the end of October. And they came in the flower shop, and they've been in there ever since. And they are fifty nine years old. D: Oh, wow. S: So they have been there around forty years. So they have been in that they know that business now just as good as I do. In fact, I think they're both better than I am. [Laughter] D: What are their names? S: Karen and Connie. D: Okay. And what's your oldest daughter's name? S: Debbie. D: Debbie. Okay. S: And then I have another one.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 16 D: Oh, really? S: I have a younger one. D: The four of them, are they up there? S: That's them. D: Okay. S: I mean it's Debbie it's Karen, Connie, and then K athy's on the end. Debbie was four when they were born, they're the twi ns in the middle, and then K athy, behind the lamp, she was born ten years after the twins. I tell a lot of people we never planned for either one of them. [Laughter] D: What is she doing in Williamsburg now? S: She's retired. She retired last June and her husband retired this June. So they're just having a good time. D: Yeah, congratulations. That's awesome. S: Yeah. Both of them taught school. D: Okay. S: Actually, Ch ris was a principal, and he taught and then he ended up being a principal. Debbie was a kindergarten teacher. D: That's awesome.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 17 S: Yeah. D: Yeah. S: They have three children, Debbie has three children. Two of them are in Williamsburg, one of them lives in California. So she babysits grandchildren every once in a while. [Laughter] And then, of course, Karen and Connie have children, too. I have nine grandchildren. D: Wow. S: And my tenth great grandchild is due in October. D: Wow. S: We'll have ten great grandchildren. D: Wow. S: They're in that picture down there that's behind that bag. D: Oh, congratulations. That's awesome. S: I had my l ast one that was born was, he came early, he was born December the twentieth, he weighed one pound and thirteen ounces. You know what he weighed June twenty forth? D: Unh uh. S: Ten pounds and ten ounces. He's doing really, really good. D: Oh, good.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 18 S: Doing really, really goo d. We're so proud of him. We call him he was bound to have done okay because there were s o many prayers that went up for him. Oh, me. I was trying to think of somebody else that would be real good to D: Could you tell me a little bit more about how your family, like how long your family has been in this part of Virginia? What they did? S: We ll, my husband's father was treasurer of Gloucester. D: Really? Oh, wow. S: For fifty years. D: Wow. S: For fifty years. And in fact, I was trying to think, he died in office. I believe he died in office. D: Wow. S: He died in his sleep. My husband worked with him the last year or maybe maybe just the last year. I'm almost sure he died in office, because they wanted Ken to stay and he didn't want any parts of it. He had a brother that followed after Ken, after Mr. Smith that became treasurer. He had a bro ther that was postmaster at Gloucester Courthouse for a long time, because he retired from the post office department, Guy Smith. D: Okay. S: There was six of them and three girls, Louise and Grace and Dot Yeah, it was three. Schoolteachers, two of them w ere schoolteachers. One taught at


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 19 Abi ngdon, one taught at Botetourt, r etired from teaching. Of course, my family was from Mathews. My grandfather was a Friends minister. D: Oh, really? S: Uh huh. D: Oh, wow. S: A wonderful minister that preached from the bible. In fact, he started Peniel Friends Church in Mathews. He retir ed from there, in other words. O f course, there's been other ministers there since then, but he retired from that church. I don't think there's anybody in my immediate family that even go es to there, because I live over here. My husband and I, we went over there after we got married. We went almost every Sunday over there because my husband loved my grandfather's preaching. Then, when the children came, when Debbie came it was still easy t o go with one but then when you had twins to come along, and one four and twins, and I remember one Sunday we were getting ready to go t o church, about ready to go to church, and one of them threw the shoe in the toilet and I said to them, we've got to sto p this. Then, by that time we were going every other Sunday. So then we stopped going over there and just went out here. It was just too much of a hassle to try to go all the way to Mathews, which was thirty five, forty minutes away. And, of course, my dad dy was a waterman. D: Okay. S: The only time that he wasn't a waterman was during the war. H e went down to the shipyard and worked for a little while. And then after the war he came and


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 20 went back to the r iver and he retired from actually, more crab potti ng and oystering. He crab potted and oystered. D: Did you ever spend much time on the water yourself growing up? S: A little bit. I used to go crabbing I used to crab pot with my dad. He would be chugging along, and I'd pull the crab pots in and open the m up and dump them in the basket. Daddy would have to you'd have to sort them out. He had a wooden thing that he measured them and if they didn't if he wasn't sure that one wasn't big enough he would put it on that measure to make sure. He never got ca ught with one undersized or anything like that. [Laughter] Never did. And then sometimes he would take me fishing out in the Chesapeake Bay, and every once in a while I'd catch a dogfish. I don't know whether you know what a dogfish is? D: Unh uh. S: It lo oks just like a little miniature shark. D: Really? S: They're about that long and they really truly look like a shark. I would hate it when I caught one of them. [Laughter] D: Yeah. S: But I mean, I loved and I've got Karen, my daughter, one of the girls at the shop, loves to fish. And at one time she had the largest rock for any woman in


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 21 the state, but she's lost it since then. Somebody's caught one bigger, bigger than that since then And that was about four maybe, I don't know. Time flies by. Probably maybe ten years ago now. But somebody's caught a bigger one since then. And she's had that that's stuffed and t hat's on the wall at her house. [Laughter] Yeah, I used to go I can' t say that I went oystering I have gone clamming. I've dredged for clams. And on the beach in Mathews in one place down Bethel Beach, Ken and I used to go down there real often on a Sunday afternoon and we'd walk the beach, and we have found I've got a whole shirt box solid full of arrowheads that we found on that beach. D: Really? Wow. S: And I even found an arrowhead that was an old dead tree, not much of it left, more of a stump, and a little bit more than a stump, and I happened to look an d there was an arrowhead sticking out of that rotten wood that had lodged in there. Ken and I found, we've got hundreds of them. Some of them perfect, some of them not perfect, with all different colors. D: Wow, yeah. I know this area has a lot of history, like around Jamestown and Yorktown. S: What? D: Has a lot of history like around Jamestown and Yorktown. So was that something you knew about when you were growing or when you were bringing your daughters up at all? It seems like it's really got a lot peo ple to come in for tourism


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 22 just recently. So I wondered how much it was part of your life when you were growing up. S: When I was growing up I'll be very frank with you: w e were poor. We laugh, our senior class, I graduated in 1950, and when we would plan a class reunion since, after that, like our twenty fifth class reunion. We all laugh, we always said we were poor and didn't know it. I mean, I wasn't fortunate enough to go to any of the places or anything. M y parents made sure I went to school, that was n't necessary. In other words, I had no choice, I had to go to high school. And, of course, graduated I was in the top ten, I wasn't the top one or two, but I was in the top ten. They did not have the money to send me further, and girls don't do then what they do now. If you don't have the money then if you didn't have the money now a lot of them will go it on their own, get a job, and put themselves through school when their parents don't or they'll borrow the mon ey. But girls didn't do it then, and I didn't get an education. I have a sister and two brothers. My dad saw that my two brothers, both of them, t he oldest one went to Smithfield Massey Business School in Richmond. He finished a course in bookkeeping, got a job at O vernight Transportation, and became controller of Overnight Transportation; a very good job. Retired from that company. He even has a home in Richmond and has a home in Mathews. My other brother and my dad did that, and I'll tell you how he did it. Of course, Harold worked on the si de while he was going to school to pay for part of it. Daddy would shuck oysters and Harold sold those quarts of oysters to different people in Richmond to pay for his education.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 23 D: Wow. S: And my youngest brother, he's about nine years younger than I am, did the same thing. He went to school in Norfolk, and he also got married, and his wife worked to help him go to school. But D ad also shucked oysters to help with his schooling. So the two boys got an education but the girls didn't. My youngest sister was a wiz with making curtains, and she, after she and her husband of course, she married a man. Her husband was a good provider, and then they separated. And then she got into the curtain business. And I mean she was very, very good at it. I married a man t hat had a degree in accounting from William and Mary, and I got an education in accounting from him. So that now I am doing all the book work for the flower shop except the income taxes. I do not do the income taxes. M y husband did them until he pass ed awa y, and then my brother that lives in Richmond does my incomes taxes now. But I do all the bookwork, I pay all the bills, do the payroll, and all that. Couldn't do it if I didn't have that visual screen. But I got an education that a way. D: That's awesome. S: Now, I'd rather wanted to be a nurse or a home economist. In fact, when I was in high school, I took a year of Home Ec that I didn't even get credit for because I didn't want to take study hall. I just took that extra class in Home Ec. When we first go t married I made the children's clothes. I made almost all of their clothes that they wore, from coats to pajamas to underwear almost everything they wore, even my own clothes I wore. And, of course, when I opened the flower shop after that it got so I didn't have to I was too busy, I couldn't do it. And, of


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 24 course, I can't do it now. Can't even see. [Laughter] Can't even see. I've always I know when we had a chance, visit Williamsbu rg. I mean, I love Williamsburg. I just think it's just and Yorktown, too. I think that's a fascinating place. Been a lot of changes at Yorktown, too, because we always loved t o go to Nick's Seaf ood Pavilion. Of course, that's gone. D: Yeah, I heard that Yorktown has changed a lot. S: It has. Ever ything has changed around here. I mean, like this house next door, that was a beautiful two story old, what you call old farmhouse. And when Brownie, the daughter of the people that owned it when they inherited the land and all they tore the house down and they built a beautiful place over there. In fact, their home was on garden tour last week. D: Really? S: This year, this year. D: Wow. S: But t hey had thought one time to remodel their old place, but when they got into it they found out that it just wasn't feasible, so they just tore it down. D: Wow. S: It's a beautiful, beautiful place. They've got a beautiful place over there. D: Your property is beautiful, too, on the water here. S: It is a nice place, isn't it?


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 25 D: Yes. Yeah. S: My land is valued more than the home. D: Really? [Laughter] S: That's because it's on the water. D: Yeah. Wow. That's funny. S: Yeah. D: I think those are all my questions, unless there's something else you'd like to put on the record about what's really special to you about this area or about your family? S: Well to me, I couldn't ask for a better place to live. The people are just so friendly and nice. They are so unselfish. I mean, they would do anything in this world for you. Your neighbors, I mean, I have got the best neighbor across the road, and bless her heart. She's at least ninety three and I need to tell you she can get down on the floor and scrub the baseboards around her house. I could no more get down I mean, if I fall on the floor D: Oh, do you h ave Life Alert? [Laughter] S: I can't get up. I cannot get up. I mean, there's no way. I mean, I have fallen twice, didn't hurt myself well, I hurt myself a little tiny bit the first time, I scraped my leg against I don't know what I scraped it against something. And I scraped it a little tiny bit. The second time I just went right straight back and I landed on a pile


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 26 of clothes that I had i n my closet floor. But anyway, I had to call my I finally got to the phone, scooted to my phone that was on the side both of them in my bedroom on the side of my bed, phones on the side of my bed. I called my daughter, which she lives not anyway, the first big house up here. And she and her husband came over. Of course, they had a key to the door and all he doe s is just puts his arm underneath me and just lifts me right up. [Laughter] But I haven't fallen since then, and that's been two or three years ago. But I know if I've fallen I cannot get up. I just cannot get up. I mean, she is wonderful. I mean, she goes out in that yard and pulls weeds and works in the yard. She'll work out there three or four hours a day. I mean, even in this hot weather. She is unreal. She is something else. But, I mean, I just love and people are so generous. I laugh, we've had a she doesn't come to our church anymore. She changed churches. But she fell and she came home from the rehab last Friday, and one of her friends gave an update in church this morning and said that she came home. But for the next week or so, next couple of w eeks anyway, she's adjusting. Most of the time she'll be upstairs, she's upstairs. And she has two teenage children, but they're boys, but I think they're maybe waiting on them mostly, because I'm sure she has nurses that are coming in during the day becau se she still can't walk. S he lives on the water, and she fell and she happened to find a piece of cardboard or something that had washed up. And she waved that and somebody in the river saw her D: Oh my gosh. Wow.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 27 S: Called or maybe came. Anyway, the res cue squad came and got her. Anyway, they said that for the next couple of weeks she really didn't want a lot of calls, a lot of visitors, and a lot of food. And that was the funniest thing, I have been trying to figure out how I could send her some food. I mean, evidently, I know she can't walk. She still can't walk. So, evidently, she just right now until she says until they get their situation straight. But I know that 's what everybody wants to do They want to go there and see her, they want to call he r, and they want to bring her food. So she says that she please for them to wait a couple of weeks. She evidently has that all taken care of. I know she has her daughter in law that lives real close by so she's probably doing food and all like that. And those two as much as I used to is the traffic. D: Okay. S: I remember when, if we were get an order to go to Hogg Funeral Home, we could take flowers from the flower shop at the Courthouse and be down at Hogg Funeral Home in ten or eleven min utes. There were no stoplights or anything. You just went right straight on down there. It's not that way anymore. You cannot do it anymore. How many stoplights did you come through to get here? D: More than a dozen, right? A t least more than a dozen. S: It's a lot. And one pops up and I'm telling you right now, you know when you turn into Ware Neck? D: Uh huh.


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 28 S: When you go out of Ware Neck you be very, very careful. D: Okay. S: There have been so many accidents trying to go unless you're going to turn and go to Mathews to go right straight across there we had a real good neighbor right up the road that was killed there. We had another actually, we've had two people from dow n Ware Neck that have been killed there. D: Wow, that's awful. S: One wasn't killed outright, one was killed just about in other words, he did not live but two or three hours. And it's been a lot of accidents there. And I think a lot of it is because whe n you go out, coming from the Courthouse is sort of a hill like, and if there's somebody coming right across that hill real fast, you don't see them. You've got to be real, real, real, real careful. So it won't surprise me if one of these days a light does like the last one to go up is the one where the new school has been bui lt, where Page School is. D: Oh, okay. S: That's the last one to go up, I think. I think that's the last one. And I'm sure they need it with the b uses coming out of there in the afternoon. And they've had accidents there before the school was even built. T hey've had accidents there. A lady was killed there. So that's the worst thing, that's the thing I d islike because I don't drive in it now. But the traffic is the thing that I dislike, I guess, more than anything in the county. You're going to have it : the more people you have, the more traffic you're going to have. And I'm just wondering I know it won't be in


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 29 my lifetime how much ru ral we will really be. We'll be almost not rural. I'm just wondering if eventually it will not be rural if this world lasts that long before the Lord decides to come. But I don't know. But I mean, Ware Neck has I can tell you one thing. D: Okay. S: We have a family of black people that are the finest black people that you would ever want to have. My youngest daughter was married to a guy that was in the reserves, Air Force R eserves, and he was killed on a training mission actually, they had returned f rom a training mission in Florida. T his was in 2001. And the plane crashed in Georgia. And do you know that black church gave her a contribution? A nice contribution when he passed away. D: Wow. S: They are wonderful black people in this community. They're just wonderful, they're just wonderful people. Ware Neck is I couldn't ask for a better place to live. I really couldn't. D: Yeah, it's beautiful. We felt so welcome here. Yeah, definitely. Thank you, too. Thanks, I know that was a lot. Yeah. Is ther e anything else you'd like to add? S: I don't think. I mean, I'm sure if you can think of a question to ask me I'll try to answer it. But I love Gloucester County. To me, Mathews, I was born and raised in Mathews and I love Mathews County and I love in fact, most of family, my sisters and one brother still lives over there, and, of course, Harold, my brother lives in Richmond. And, of course, my parents are gone. But I have I did have a


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 30 cousin that lived down the road but she's moved to Richmond. But, of course, they're scattered all over everywhere. But Gloucester is my home now. I mean, I've been here since I was I got married in May, I was twenty, I would have been twenty one in September, and I'll be eighty five in September. So I've been here a w hile. D: That's awesome. S: I love Gloucester, I really do. I can't think of a place in the world that I would want to go. I know as far as shopping is concerned, if I don't shop in Gloucester I prefer Richmond. Don't like Newport News. [Laughter] I think it's the traffic. You can get in your car and leave and once you leave Gloucester and travel all the way to Richmond and not hit a stoplight, you can't even hardly get once you get across the bridge you start hitting lights right away to go to Newport News. Of course, I go over there, my heart doctor is over there. And I do go over there, but I'd rather my extensive shopping, I guess, if I can't find it in Gloucester I'd rather go to Richmond. [Laughter] Oh, me. I can tell you this much, of course you don't have to write this down, I'm not a Walmart shopper. It really does damage to small businesses. It really does. It really hurts businesses. I could see the biggest difference once they opened up. It's put some businesses out of business, in Mathews a nd Gloucester. And I understand, you know, why people go there. I mean, they offer cheaper prices and people have to watch their pocketbook and all. But i t hurt some businesses. It hurts mine. That's the way it is. D: Uh huh. I think those are all my quest ions so can I turn the recorder off or is there anything you'd like to add?


TMP 113; Jean Diggs Smith; Page 31 S: Mm ? D: Can I turn the recorder off or is there anything you'd like to S: I can't think of anything. D: Okay, al l right. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Patrick Daglaris, A ugust 2, 2016 Audit edited by: Jessica Taylor, August 7, 2016 Final edited by: Patrick Daglaris, October 27, 2016