James Madison University
Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project
Oral History Interview With: Julia Patterson
Interviewer: Amy R. Larrabee
Place: Kiddsville, VA
Date: March 11, 2006
Audio File Size: 54.7 MB
Return to Finding Aid | Interview Guide | Interview Journal | Images | Audio
General topic of interview: Interview discusses narrator’s work as a domestic and her idea of family considering she never married or had children. Also, race relations were briefly addressed, as well as the social services the narrator receives.
NARRATOR: Julia Patterson
INTERVIEWER: Amy R. Larrabee
DATE: March 11, 2006
PLACE: Kiddsville, VA
Birthdate: April 26, 1912
Occupation: Retired Live-in Domestic
Julia’s father died when she was just an infant, wherein her mother remarried. She has four full-siblings and twelve half-siblings. Her first paid work was apple-picking in an orchard which could be seen from her home. She completed the sixth grade, but was unable to travel to Staunton to continue schooling after that. Religion has played an important part in Julia’s life. She began work as a live-in domestic at the age of 17 and remained in that profession till she was in her eighties. She worked in New Jersey and Virginia. Julia was very close with her last employers, for whom she worked over forty years in Waynesboro, Va. Today, Julia is one of only five siblings living. She lives with her half-sister Mercedes, who also is a retired domestic, in their trailer in Kiddsville, Va.
Julia Patterson is a 93 year old African American woman who briefly described growing up in rural Virginia. Issues relating to race relations are touched upon, as well as schooling, religion, family, and work. Julia is a very content person who lives with her half-sister Mercedes Williams. The two women happily receive social services from the state, including Meals on Wheels. Julia and her sister Mercedes are easy to laugh, welcoming, and interesting women.
Larrabee: Now its recording…this is Amy Larrabee interviewing Julia Patterson in Kiddsville Virginia at 11:00 am March 11, 2006. First of all I want to thank you for meeting with me and talking with me and letting me record you. I just want to have you agree on record that you are allowing me to record you. Is that correct?
L: Yes. Ok great. So first of all, where were you born?
P: Washington, PA
L: Ok, and when?
P: The year of the fourth month the 29th day in the 12th year
L: Ok. And who were your parents? Tell me a little bit about them.
P: Robert Louis Patterson was my father. Mary Lydia Taylor Patterson was my mother, but she married a Williams.
L: Ok. She married a Williams after your father?
P: After I was born, yes.
L: Ok, and and can you tell me a little bit about how they met? Or….
P: Now I don’t know that.
L: Don’t know anything about that, ok. And the number of children they had together?
P: I do know that they lived in Augusta County before they moved to PA, I know that.
P: Augusta Ca, right here in Fishersville, and then moved to Pa. And they had, you want to know how many children? They had five children. And I was the, uh, was I the third? Louis, Robert, Me, I was the third, No, wait a minute, James come in between, he’s the little boy that died. Louis was the oldest, Robert, I mean James then Robert then Julia, then the little boy, Charles Irving, there was five Pattersons.
L: Ok, ok. Were they, were either of your parents widowed before they got together?
L: Ok. So, your father died?
L: And when was this?
P: My father died in the year of 1913.
L: Ok and what happened?
P: Died in Pa.
L: And what happened after that to you and your mother?
P: Well then she had this little boy, younger than me, a little baby younger than me, Charles Irving. And then, about in the year, lets see, in the same year, that would have been about 1914 was when my mother came to Augusta county, back to live in Augusta county, and I was about, well…
L: You were an infant.
P: Well, like I said I was born in 19 and 12, and she came back about 1914, that would make me about.
P: 2 years old, something like that.
L: Ok. And did she came back to VA to live with family?
P: No, she came back to live with her father, which is my grandfather.
L: Ok, and what memories do you have of him? What memories do you have of your grandfather?
P: I don’t have any now, they’ve all past.
L: Do you remember though-do you remember stories he told you or anything when you were growing up about his life?
P: I don’t remember too much about his life, no. He died when I was about six years old, that’s my grandfather, my mother’s father. And her, her mother, of course, died when she was about three years old, so she didn’t know her mother, and he never married again. So I can’t say very much about that.
L: Was he good to you?
P: Yes. Yes, I used to come and live with him for maybe about a week or so, and then he took me back home, we lived on a farm, on a sole farm. Call it Swishers farm that was the first place I ever remembered living, was Swishers farm. That’s where my step-father used to work, on Swishers farm that was Sadie’s father. And my mother, like I said, she married again, and in, well she had five children by her first husband and 12 children by her second husband.
L: Now how long before your mother met Sadie’s father? She moved back to VA, and then how long was it before she met…?
P: Sadie you wanna get in on that?
Williams: She knew him because she went to school with him.
W: So she knew him.
L: Ok. So what was your relationship like with your stepfather?
P: What was…?
L: What was your relationship like with your step-father?
P: You mean my step-father?
W: He was a father to you.
W: He was a father to you.
P: He was just my step father, step daddy or step father.
L: Alright and how did you refer to him? How did you address him? What did you call…?
P: Mr. Williams.
L: Mr. Williams.
P: I never called him nothin’ else but Mr. Williams, and I never took his name, because I was still Patterson, still Patterson today.
P: Cause, I never married.
L: Ok. So tell me about your relationship with your siblings, did you get along with your siblings, your brothers and sisters?
P: Yes. Yes.
P: Yeah we grew up together, all of they had Williams, my name’s Patterson.
L: Uh huh. How about Aunts and Uncles, do you remember any of your Aunts and Uncles when you were growing up?
P: I don’t know, but just one of my father’s brother, his name was Charles Patterson. Charlie Patterson, Charles, Patterson. And some of them I met and like I said now his mother, lived in Baltimore, they moved, otherwise they lived in Augusta County. That’s where my mother and father met went to school, I reckon, I don’t know. I can’t go back that far. ‘Cause, she might have talked it over, but see little children you know how they don’t take things in like that. But anyway, I do know that they said they moved to Baltimore, that’s the reason I never knew my…any of them except my father’s bother. One brother, his name was Charles; otherwise I never knew anything about them. I knew more about my step-father’s people, yeah.
L: Ok, so those relatives you knew, your step-father’s, through your step-father.
P: Right, right.
L: Ok, and did they have a big impact on your life, did you see them a lot? Or just rarely?
P: Yeah, well now like I said I grew up here in Augusta County. Because I was about 17 years old when like I said on my letter that I went to Staunton to work, and I lived in. But I was 17.
L: Ok. So can you describe for me a little bit your childhood, what maybe chores you had to do around the home or jobs you had as a child?
P: Oh yeah.
L: That sort of thing, just kind of talk to me about that stuff.
P: Well, like I said, Sadie and I like I said we can talk the same thing over ’cause we just lived in, went to school, sewed clothes, and so on. I can’t, not to much about that, because like I said, until I was 17, and that’s when I went to work. I lived in, and I didn’t learn to drive a car untill I was 47 so….
L: You had mentioned, you mentioned something about apple-picking, being a job?
P: Oh yeah, yes I did pick apples before, moved to Staunton, I mean went to Staunton. Now I used to pick apples, but…I reckon I did it for about one or two years.
L: And how old were you when you were doing that?
P: I, I might have been about 12 or 13, I reckon, something like that, when I picked apples.
L: And did your, did, you got to keep your own pay, that you made from doing that?
You didn’t have to contribute to the family income, you could keep it on your own?
P: Yes, well we picked apple by the crate, only got five cents for each crate, every crate that you picked. We did that for, for about two years, and then after that… and then Sadie when we come in and was picking up like, uh, uh, I didn’t, I wasn’t picking with her daddy though, I didn’t pick apples with him. Um, I still would get five cents a crate, that’s all. I reckon, first we must started by the day instead of by the crate then I think that’s the way we did.
L: By the day?
P: Yeah, I think we did, I think it was two dollars by the day, something of the kind.
P: I forgotten all that stuff.
P: It’s hard to remember, but I think we did, then we starred picking by the crate, and you got five cents a crate for that. Picking off the tree, and also picking up off the ground, we got five cents a crate.
L: And this was close to where you lived? This was close to your home that you did this?
W: I don’t know.
P: Yeah. Because used to be a orchard right [?] used could see it but now you can’t now because all the trees been cut down but it was… but yes you could see it in those days.
L: So that was your first paid job?
L: Ok. So tell me about school, where did you go to school and for how long, and what was that like?
P: Well I went to school till I… I studied some seven grade books, I didn’t graduate from the seven grade class, but I did study some of the books.
P: Seven grade books.
L: So up through seventh grade, essentially.
L: And what was school like for you, did you like it?
P: Uh huh.
L: Did you not like it?
P: Yes, I did.
L: Did you make friends in school?
P: Yes, we had a lot of friends, well course, like I said our school just had one room that was down the hill but when I went to Old Forrest school, we had two rooms. And I can’t tell you how many children was in it, nevertheless like I said we all were friends, and just had one teacher, even so, up Old Forrest, and then down the hill, one teacher. Then all these children would come in, but I can’t tell you how many children. It was by then like I said, now this teacher she would sit down, ok, she’d have her arms folded bout like this. She’d call the first grade, she’d call the second grade, the third grade and all the way up, just like that.
L: And they were all in one room.
P: That’s right.
L: And was this a black and white school? Or just…
P: No, no it was all black.
L: All black.
P: Yeah. Uh, that’s about all I can remember of that.
L: Ok, so but up through seventh grade. Ok. And it was an enjoyable experience? It was enjoyable?
P: Yes. Yes.
L: Did you have anyone that you looked up to when you were younger? Sort of like a mentor or someone who inspired you, or you wanted to be like?
L: You can think of?
P: No. I used to come over here to Church, now like I said we lived on a farm, and my mother used to and father, step-father, used to bring us over here to church. Now church was right here, that church we gonna tear down now, but now there’s a new church, we been in the new church about four years, but that was our old one. You can see now they’re tearing at the windows and all so they’re gonna tear it, it’s fallin’ down, just the siding is holding it up.
L: So Church was an inspiration to you when you were young? Ok.
P: Yes, used to come over here, to ….over to Church, I always did love to go to Church. And I joined up at the Church I was baptized, I been baptized twice. First time I was baptized I was 12 years old, second time I was 19 years old.
L: Now why twice? Why were you baptized twice?
P: Because I didn’t feel like as I was really saved until I was 19 years old. That’s when I felt like I was really saved, I knew that… But at first, like I said, I had always heard if you was a sinner, if you die, you go to hell. I certainly didn’t want to go to hell, so I thought if I joined the church I’d become a Christian and Christians, wouldn’t go to hell, so I didn’t know nothing about being saved till I was 19 years old. Then I knew what I was doing then, I become a real saved Christian, and so I wanted to be baptized again, which I was baptized.
L: So the second time it was your decision.
L: And the first time…
L: Sort of your parents brought you?
P: Yes, I reckon you would call it that, yeah. Second, or first time, because I was about 12 years old. And we didn’t have a pool of course, in the old. We got a pool in our new church but old church we were baptized down the hill… in that there, you can see that stream of water
L: Oh neat.
P: That’s where we were baptized, I can’t remember how many children were baptized, I don’t remember that, but I was 12 years old.
L: Do you remember anything when you were younger, sort of a newsworthy story? Or some, you know, big event in the news that was going on when you were younger?
L: Remember hearing about news?
L: Ok. Did you have any um, any really upsetting or traumatic experiences as a child that you can remember? That really upset you or..?
L: Nothing like that. Ok. Did you date, when you were a young adult?
L: Go on dates?
P: No. Nope. I didn’t get a boyfriend till I was about 24 years old, I reckon–till I got a real boyfriend, yeah.
L: Tell me about that.
P: No… I rather not talk about it.
L: Ok. Ok. Did-When you left school, did you miss the friends that you had made?
L: Did you stay in touch with them?
P: Yes, because, like I said, some of them went to school in Staunton–that I used to go to school with down the hill–some of them were in Staunton they lived with their relatives and they could go to school in Staunton, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have no relatives to live with, see I lived in on my job, so I couldn’t go to school in Staunton. But I did want to go, but I couldn’t. I always did want…I mean, right now I regret I didn’t get education, which I didn’t. I can’t spell.
L: Do you keep in touch with any of the friends that you made in school, today, do you still keep in touch with them, did you keep in touch with them?
P: Oh, no I reckon they’ve all passed away now most of them, haven’t they Sadie?
W: Uh huh. She recording all that?
P: I guess. Uh, even my, see I’m the only Patterson that’s living now, because my oldest sister, and my brother and of course, like I said she lost those two–one was younger than me, but I didn’t know about him. But, I don’t know anyone around now at my age, because I think they’ve all past. Except Sadie’s the only one ’cause even in our family, even the one next to me passed, the oldest Williams, she passed about a year ago. So there’s only in our family now, five of us, out of the seventeen, only five of us- five girls.
L: And how many, how many out of the seventeen how many were boys and how many were girls?
P: We had, what was it five? Wait a minute, five brothers? How many brothers did we have? Robert, Robert, Albert, Richard, Wilbert, Joseph, and then I said the two brothers that we lost, how many’s that? I’ve been counting seven? I think that’s seven.
L: Wow, big family.
P: And then the rest of us were girls.
L: Did you ever feel discriminated against as a young adult?
P: Did I do what?
L: Did you ever feel discriminated against as a young adult?
L: You were never in a situation that made you feel…
L: Were there ever things when you were a young adult, again still living at home, were there things that you wanted that maybe your parents couldn’t afford to get for you? Or wouldn’t get for you?
P: I wanted to go to school, that’s one thing I really wanted to go to school. But I, like I said I couldn’t, because if I’d gone to school in Stanton see, I’d have to pay. And our little school down here, the tartan, like I say she did took over like I said did study some seven grade books but she called it the sixth grade, because she wasn’t supposed to teach seventh grade.
L: The school stopped at sixth grade essentially, and if you wanted to do more you would have had to travel and pay?
P: Yes, the sixth grade… there was just three of us that was in my class and we did study some seventh grade books, but we called it sixth grade.
L: And, so tell me about your first job, your fist job away from home, where you moved.
P: I lived in, lived in for eleven years.
L: And where was it?
P: In Staunton.
L: Ok, and what was the family like and what kind of work did you do?
P: Housework just like, cleaning, cooking, that’s all. I didn’t have to take care of any children cause the youngest one was eleven years old and the oldest about, twenty.. I think he was around about twenty-two years old. And they were all boys, and like I said I was seventeen, cause like I said you can see I didn’t care care of no children. And I lived in till I was- I lived in eleven years so that made me about, I was about what, forty years? No I wasn’t forty years old no not quite that- wait a minute, I tell ya I can’t count. I was I was about twenty-eight years old when I left.
L: Ok. And what was your relationship like with- was it a couple, a husband and wife who you worked for that first job?
L: And what was your relationship like with them? Were you comfortable talking to them about problems, or?
P: Yes, yeah.
L: Do you remember what you pay was, that first job?
P: Yeah, five dollars a week when I first went on the job and I stayed eleven years, and they raised me $1.25. So I made- made me have $6.25 when I left.
P: That’s how much I got a week.
L: Did you think that was fair pay at the time?
P: I didn’t know no better. Of course I didn’t have to buy, like I said none of my meals, and I didn’t have to buy food or nothing, just for myself I didn’t-
L: And you didn’t have rent to pay?
P: No, no rent, no.
L: So were you able to save money when you were working?
P: Yes. I had about $100 in the bank.
L: So how did you–and what was–or how did you find your next job? How did you decide to move on? What happened that made you leave?
P: I just decided, I’d met some girls while I was in Washington- I mean in Staunton from Washington, DC, and that’s when I left and went to Washington DC. And instead of- at first I stayed at YWC, well, YW, what do you call it?
L: CA, I think so. WYCA- Young Women’s Christian Association?
P: Yeah, that’s where I stayed. I used to meet my friends, but I didn’t live in with them, but that’s where I stayed. And then they helped me and we watched the paper and I got my job, first job out of the paper, newspaper, news- There was advertised for help, and I answered. And I stayed on, you see I stayed on that job ’bout a year or a little more that a year I reckon, about two years I reckon.
L: And why, why only two years?
P: .and then I came back home, back to Virginia and I worked a little bit in Waynesboro, and then I and then this lady came for my sister, she knew my sister, better than she knew me. That’s my sister that- she’s dead now of course- and she wanted to- she was going to to Phil- I mean New Jersey, and I always wanted to go back up north, ’cause I reckon because I was born up there, I mean in Pennsylvania I guess. But anyway and my sister didn’t want to go so I did so I left and went with her- them- that was a family I lived in, up in – first was Metuchen, New Jersey and then she moved Metuchen, New Jersey to Westfield, New Jersey- and then she told me she couldn’t afford help any longer, but I could live in with her- which I did- until I could find a job. So she helped me to find a job. First job she found for me, I didn’t like it.
L: Why not?
P: No I, I just couldn’t get along with the woman so I didn’t like it. So I went, uh, then I found a job and then some friends that I met up there helped me to find a second job- which I stayed on about two years then I came back to Virginia – I got this job over in Waynesboro then. That’s the job I stayed on for forty years, in Waynesboro. I stayed on till I retired.
L: Ok. Well tell me, tell me a little bit about, that, that, that family you work for and what a typical day was like for you?
P: In Waynesboro?
L: Um hmm, at that job.
P: Oh I loved it. He, those people owned a hardware store. He worked at DuPont, but they owned Corn Hardware, and I stayed with them. They had only one daughter. And I worked after they passed, Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel both passed, I still worked for the daughter- I talked to her last week- she lives in Summer Square now. And so I got along real good, and while the work, Mrs. Gabriel she told me I should learn how to drive a car. So I was forty-seven years old and so she, she taught me- give me some lessons herself on how to drive and then she had drivers to come out and teach me how to drive. So I got my drivers’ permit in about, I guess maybe about, I’ll say about six months maybe altogether, because it took me three months with my learner’s permit then I got my driver’s permit and I drove my car up until I was- until I retired. Well, I was about 90/91 I was still driving, then I sold my car.
L: And when did you retire?
P: I retired between the age of 91 and 92. I’m 90- I’ll be 94 next month.
L: So you just recently retired?
W: No you retired-
You retired when you stopped working?
P: No I didn’t, because see when Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel died I still worked for the daughter. I would go over and work for her and then when I got so that I couldn’t do her housework, she still would have me to come in on Christmas and make cookies. And I did that until I was about… I was about 80-at least 87. I don’t know. Anyway, I know it was up until I fell and hurt my eye- I don’t remember how long- what year that was, but anyway that’s when I had stopped going over and making cookies for her at Christmas time- because I told her that I’d rather not. I fell right here in my bathroom and hurt my eye. Needed to have a couple stitches put in on that side- and then later I fell and hurt this eye and I didn’t have to have stitches in this one- but I don’t have no scars left- but I thought I’d have a scar that eye and one on that eye…
L: So, so what was a typical day like working for the Gabriels, did you say?
P: Yeah, they were very, very nice people.
L: So, I mean, what time did you have to get up and start cooking…or?
P: Oh I get up in the mornings, I’d be in the kitchen by 7:30. Get breakfast, and then I would do my, like I said my housework. After breakfast, of course you know, you have to clean the kitchen up and clean the rest of the house through. And then you cook your lunch…lunch and then maybe I had a little time off in between and then of course I would start supper.
L: So what time would you generally get to bed? On a typical day?
P: Well, anytime, I don’t know- I didn’t have a certain time go to bed, because like I said after they got television- when I first went there there was no television- but I reckon they got television I used to go to the movies sometimes- but then they got a television- then I stopped going to the movie…
L: So you had your own- did you have your own television in your room?
P: No, but my room was on the basement floor and they had their recreation room and the television was in that recreation room. So we, we would they would set there too- and all all of us together, the three of us Mr. Mrs. Gabriel and me sit and watch television.
L: Oh that’s fun.
P: What’d you say Sadie?
W: I didn’t say anything.
P: I thought you was saying something. Oh. Alright, that’s enough.
L: Did you make friends at this time, when you were living in Waynesboro with the Gabriels?
P: Uh huh.
L: Friends outside of the job- and what was- what sorts of- you know what did you do with them? Did you go out- you said you went to the movies, did you do other things on your time off? And when, when was your time off?
P: Well I would come over here then- over… we didn’t live in the trailer then but we were living in my grandfather’s house and uh, Sadie and I lived in that house until- when did we, we tore that house down about in ’80 somethin’…
W: We been here 23 years
P: We been here- we moved here in ’83. I mean in this trailer Sadie and me.
L: In ’83 and that’s – that’s when you got done working for the the family?
P: Well I had retired before then, yeah. Because I, like I said I was 72 when we bought this trailer- I remember that real good- that was in 80… ’82, ’83- ’83.
L: Now that woman you told me that you- uh- one of the first jobs when you were living in New Jersey that the lady got for you? And you said you didn’t like- you only stayed there a little while because you didn’t like it, remember? Why couldn’t – why didn’t you get along with her, was she…?
P: Well I would rather not tell it- but it sounded to me like she lived in the past-
P: Otherwise I never saw anybody in the house but this said one woman- but yet she would talk to her husband and her daughter- but I never saw them- now that’s enough of that. But it did like sound to me like she – her, her husband and daughter must a got killed or somethin’- I don’t know.
L: So you were only there about a year?
P: But [unknown] like I said when I saw that she would talk to somebody, and I told her “I’ve never met your daughter”- and yet she said well she gonna let me meet her daughter- but she never did. Well would you stay at a place like that? I didn’t know- so I left that woman.
L: So kinda made you uncomfortable, or….?
P: I stayed there about two weeks, and I left-
P: ‘Cause I couldn’t understand her.
L: So it wasn’t that she was mean to you or anything?
P: No, no, no she was nice to me but I didn’t understand her. Why didn’t I ever meet her daughter? Why didn’t I ever meet her husband?
L: Do you know who old she was…about?
P: No, I never knew that. But she- looked like to me that something must have happened, and she didn’t want to talk about it- yet she pretended like they was still with her- so that was just too much–I left her.
L: And you talked about another job…I think….?
P: Then the next job I got I stayed on that job.
L: For like a year or two, is that what you said?
P: Yeah, but I – yeah a little bit over a year, I think.
L: And what was that one like? And what….
P: Well it was, it was very nice anyway, yeah.
L: Why did you end up leaving there?
P: I lived in and he was a doctor- and they had – they had three children – they had two boys and a girl. And it was, like I said I never — [unknown] ’cause after all the girl, she was about well- uh- she was about 13 or 14 years old I reckon. I never- I’ve never done any—taken care of any children.
L: Was it difficult when you would get a new job– adjusting to a new family? And their tastes? Maybe their…..
P: Oh yeah- yes- yeah you had to get used to yeah on a new job – get used to your new job…
P: after all, like I said- you get settled and – I just made it like it was- well in New Jersey it had to be home, ’cause I was too far away from home so….
P: and then I got Sadie a job and she came up and she lived up there with me- so we both lived in.
L: In different homes?
P: Uh huh- yes she worked with a family and I lived…
L: Now how about cooking? Did you like cooking?
P: No, no I didn’t.
L: Is it because you did it a lot or you just- you never liked it?
P: …I, I had to cook because it was my job but I – uh right today I still don’t like to cook
L: Did you learn to cook from your mom?
P: Uh huh, yes, but I still just don’t… I’d rather not cook.
L: So who cooks here now?
P: She does (motioning to W.) …
L: Sadie cooks for the both of you.
P: She cooked Turkey Breast yesterday.
L: Ok. So for example- when you were working for the the Gabriels- right that you worked for for forty years- did you have days that you were off?
P: Uh huh- yes. I had Sundays off and Thursdays.
L: Sundays and Thursdays. And how did you- how was it that you had Thursdays off, was that just a day that they randomly picked that you could have off…?
P: No – that was my day off I, I [unknown] see I lived in.
P: and Thursday well I’d get up and get breakfast- then right after breakfast- I’d clean up after breakfast and then I was off for the rest of the day till Friday–and until I learned to drive, well she would bring me over here.
L: To visit family?
P: And after I learned- yeah Mrs. Gabriel…
L: To visit your family?
P: Uh huh- bring me over here and then after I learned to drive of course, I’d drive my own car over and drive back.
L: So what would you do on your days off besides visit with family? Was there other things you would go off and do on your own, or?
P: [unknown] like I said come over here and visit family, or maybe I’d go shoppin’ and then after I learned to drive a car well sometime I’d go to Staunton to my hairdresser and then I’d go back to Waynesboro- fool around over there and then I’d come back over here- and if there was- well I had – we used to have club meetings – church club meetin’. I’d go to club meetin’ and we’d have prayer meetin’ or what not- till on Sundays of course we had Church every Sunday.
L: Did you have any hobbies?
P: Oh my hobby is crocheting
P: …crocheting and uh I would do needlepoint, but I never leaned to knit now, and I didn’t like sewin’, but I was needlepoint and uh my crocheting was my really…
L: Did you have to sew at all for your job? Did you have to sew while you were…?
P: No, no.
L: They never asked you to repair clothing or anything like that?
P: No, no, no just do a little washing and ironing or something like that. Course she sent off clothes to the laundry but maybe I would have to- you know like things that you have to do by hand- hand wash- I used to have to do that.
L: So on the whole did you like working–besides cooking, you said you didn’t like cooking..?
P: No I never did like cookin’.
L: But you liked working.
L: You liked house work?
L: Did you ever consider any other kind of work?
L: You just….
P: I was just [unknown] all I could do … was trying to cook- but like I said I just didn’t ever like to cook- but I had to cause that was my job. But if they were going out that was- that was wonderful to me because I didn’t have to cook.
L: And how do you think you got into house work. Did someone suggest that line of work to you? Or is what you saw a lot of other people doing? Or…
P: Well see I wanted to have my own money, as I have to make my own money -and that was the only way because I’ve never- never done…. ‘cept like I said pickin’ apples- well I didn’t want to pick apples all rest of my life- so I just lived in like I said and worked in and I – my own money- that’s the only reason like I…
L: So there were lots of those jobs and that that made sense…?
P: But I, I never wanted to do anything but just live in and do housework- that’s only thing I’ve ever done.
L: Did you ever feel uncomfortable in any of your jobs? At the— besides the the lady you said who you didn’t understand, but were there other…..
P: Oh yeah, well I didn’t – and that was the only job I ever had I really didn’t like
L: Right- but were there other- in your other jobs with there ever times where you maybe felt uncomfortable about-the situation, maybe with um- maybe with the men in the house or…? Anything like that?
P: No, I always got along nicer with them, now like I said. Even though that Ms [?] she had six boys- but I got along nicely with them. They never was smart-alecky to me and I never act smart to them- so we just got along nicely together-and then like I said at those other jobs I lived in well uh- they-I’ve always got along nicely with the family- except for that one job that I had- I never understood that woman- ’cause it looked like to me she was livin’ in the past- then she didn’t want to talk about it.
L: Now did you have a uniform…for the most part when you were on- doing house work?
P: Yeah, yes- yeah they- see they were -in those days they would buy- the lady would buy your uniforms and aprons that…
L: Were there restrictions put on you um regarding- you know- how your hair had to be done, or your make-up, or jewelry?
L: You could do whatever you wanted…
P: Right, yeah
L: As long as you wore the uniform?
P: Yeah, yeah that was ok.
L: Did you wear- did you wear make-up?
P: I never have wore so much make-up- but I could if I wanted to…she didn’t care about that- either- none of them cared about that, ’bout your make-up but like I said they just want [?] uniforms of course and aprons- ’cause like I said that lady- I didn’t stay long enough to….
L: So um… could you say on most of your jobs whether the the husband or the wife was more in charge of you or your boss?
L: Did you feel like one or the other was more…?
P: No, like I said now when I was in New Jersey I worked for a doctor- well course like I said this doctor- maybe the would lady now she’d probably go to New York while I would be there- and if he come in for his lunch, or something like that- but I don’t say that- I don’t say that was a boss- not what consider bossin’.
L: Ok, let- can we take a break for a moment?
[No break taken]
P: You just have you- you known- like I say when you get up in the mornings you know what you was supposed to do that day- and you did that, whatever you supposed do that day because you had your work all lined out- supposed to be do [?] – that’s that’s all the way that I can carry that [?] …
L: Can you, uh- were there ever any memorable trips you took? Um- where you ever just went away on a vacation or anything?
P: Oh, like I said when I was in Waynesboro I’d maybe go to Washington- that’s about all the places, I’ve never been in the- further south than Virginia- but I would go to Washington [D.C.]
L: And what would you do there?
P: Well- –stay at the Y- and then I get up on Sunday morning and go to church then I’d go back to the Y nap- I could eat at the Y or else I could go in a restaurant and eat- but you could have your meals right there at the Y if you wanted to- and…
L: Did you go to the movies….or?
P: Yes- I uh- when I was in New Jersey I’d go to movies with… I remember goin’–I reckon I did we used to go over to New York and we’d go to movies over in New York, Sadie and me, whiles we were in New Jersey, we’d go to the movies.
L: Did you like going to the city? Did you like going to the city?
P: Oh yes, uh huh, yeah I used to, like I said, I lived in Westfield and some days –if she was on [Sadie] and I’d be off, well I would go over to Newark- maybe take a bus and go over to Newark and I’d go maybe over and Rahway and Linden what was that other place? Plainfield- All around up in New Jersey- I used to like to go around different places up there- and when we would be off- like I said we’d go off New York and go to a movie and we- on Sunday we’d go to Church in Westfield- that’s about all.
L: So, would you say- how -what’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home?
P: New York would be the furthest…no I never been any farther than that Sadie… Sadie went further if she want to put hers in- cause she’s worked in New York state- but I never been any farther than New York city- Brooklyn, New York and New York City- that’s as far as I’ve ever been up North.
L: So, when you retired, was that a hard decision to make…?
L: When you finally…you were…
P: No I was ready to retire.
L: and how – and how old approximately- I know we kind of talked about it a little bit before but when you finally left the Gable family- was that it- ?
L: How, how old were you?
P: It seems like to me…uh like I’m trying to think- it was when I fell and hurt my eye – and that’s when I retired cause I told Becky that I couldn’t come back anymore because I – and she still said when I got over that well I could come back and so on- but I don’t think I did. I must have been about- at least 87 or maybe 88, somethin’ like that- but re– I’ll say when I retired.
L: Did, was it- did you have money saved at that point? Or…
L: So it wasn’t financially….
P: Well like I said they used to give me uh- a little money, like I said uh this girl- after her mother and father died of course I was left in the money- and I don’t want to say how much- in the will of course- and uh she used to pay me, yeah extra when I’d do her work for her–I don’t like to talk about that because, I don’t know…
L: That’s ok. — I mean it makes sense…
P: Somebody would think I’m rich or…
L: So you’ve been living here how long?
P: 22 years
L: 22 years- and you and your sister bought this place together?
P: Uh huh, yeah and we sold the ground- we only own the trailer- but we sold our ground to the church- the land otherwise to the church and only the trailer is ours. But after I bought – we… trailer I was still working, like I said I still worked. And I- I remember I was 72 when we bought the trailer.
L: But you would still do sort of odd jobs- like you said you cooked cookies…?
P: No I was workin’ for- I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Gaber then. Uh- Mrs. Gabriel died in the year of ’85 and Mr. Gabriel died in uh ’90…. That’s where I’m gettin’ it all mixed up [?] 90, 91 he died in that ’91. Then I continued workin’ for the daughter.
L: But you weren’t living in her home?
P: No, no
L: Ok, at that point you were living here…?
P: I, I lived here, yeah. I, I stopped livin’ in, like I said when he [Mr. Gabriel] would uh work at uh Sunny- lived in Sunny Side- he went to Sunny Side in the year of uh guess it was uh ’80… ’89 I reckon when he went to Sunnyside to live.
L: And did he sell his home at that time? Or did the daughter live there?
P: She had a sale- that was before he died- I mean the daughter had a sale and uh- in the year of I reckon ’bout in ’90- is when she had the sale and sold out- but I stopped living’ in when she had the sale- but he was still living’ because he was still livin’ in uh Sunnyside- and he died in uh, I remember in March in ’91. And then, like I said, I continued goin’ over helpin’ the daughter, of course she lived in her house, of course, – she lived at uh–you wouldn’t call it Fairview- I don’t know, but anyway- over near the country club- they had a name for it but I can’t think of it right now- what they called it- but anyway that’s where they home- but now she lives in Summer Square- that’s the retirement home for older people. So like I say we talked on- talks on the telephone.
L: Do you have any uh experience with government social programs? Anyone who comes to the house and helps out with anything, or?
P: Yeah that’s where we come in on- was that government Sadie?
W: The agent?
P: The agent- are they the government people?
L: An agent?
P: Uh huh
L: Sure- what, now what- what does she – what does she do for you?
P: Now Sadie you come in on it…
W: Well we have social workers that come to the house- look after us and- We have the Meals on Wheels they deliver um once a month.
P: That’s both of us.
L: And how do you feel about that- ?
L: Do you- do you like that- ?
L: Do you like the people who come- are they nice?
P: Good, yes.
L: And how long has- have you been involved with that? How long has someone been coming to help out?
P: It been how long…about?
W: Two years
P: Two years, ok.
L: And how did, how did it come about that you first met them- or that they first came- did you contact them- or did they-
P: No- it was when she’s- she came in Sadie come in…
W: I got sick
L: Your sister…?
W: Yeah I got sick and that’s when they start takin’ over.
L: …got sick. Ok.
W: Then I come in on her cause she was the one that got sick- and then like I said I come in on her. Then that’s when we started- like I said gettin’ Meals on Wheels and…
L: And how often does Meals on Wheels come?
P: Once a month.
L: Once a month.
P: And she gets 20 meals, and I get 20 once a month. Let’s see our meals will come in next Thursday.
L: So are they- uh pre-made meals or?
P: They’re uh frozen.
L: Frozen meals.
P: Frozen meals, uh huh. We put them in our freezer- that’s good I don’t have to cook.
P: All I have to do is heat them up. Yeah, we get good Meals on Wheels.
L: And the people who come in and bring the food- you like them.
P: Uh huh, yes.
L: Are they, are they young kids, or are they older adults or?
P: Oh no, they are a…
P: Volunteer comes in- bring our meals.
L: And you- and there’s another person, an agent you said who comes in- and talks to you about your health, or? Were you saying something about that…?
W: Social workers
P: Uh huh.
L: And do you like this person as well? Is it a female, is it a male… the social worker?
L: Female- and do you like her?
P: Uh huh.
L: She’s friendly?
P: Yes, she’s very, very nice, yes. She was here what, Sadie about a week or so ago wasn’t she?
W: Uh huh, that’s Christine Ramsey.
P: Uh huh- yes, she’s very nice. Everybody, even the girl who comes in and helps us- now she comes in once a week, she’s very nice- I got her mixed up with you.
L: Oh, now what does she do? Who’s this, this girl?
P: She was- she come in uh yesterday- ok- she’s uh she’s 21 years old- ok, ya’ll both wear your hair down and sometimes she wears hers back in a ponytail- but yesterday she had her hair down and I don’t know your age- but you could pass- she says she’s 21
L: So I, I could pass for 21?
P: [Overlap here- cannot make out what Julia is saying] – come in for you. Yes she’s very, very nice- we sit, we chats.
L: Now what does she do for you? Does she clean or does she cook or?
P: Uh huh, yes she cleans.
L: And she, um, does she work for the government too- or? She’s- how how does she…
P: Yeah, I reckon yes she gets her pay from the government, we don’t have to pay her.
L: Right. So, she a good- she’s a friend as well?
P: Uh huh- she’s very, very nice, like I said but ya’ll…
L: Got us confused?
P: When, when she come in here yesterday ‘you not supposed to be here today, didn’t you tell me you were comin Friday or Saturday?’ The girl said no, no I didn’t- I – I don’t work on Fri- Saturday.
L: Now how long has she been coming to see you guys?
P: She been comin’ bout- she been bout three weeks hasn’t she?
W: Uh huh
P: I reckon about three weeks
L: Oh so this is a new service?
W: After I got sick they started sending someone out last June-
P: Yeah but we’ve had different ones now-
L: Oh ok so this has been happening for a while.
P: This one- one came- now she was with us bout six or seven months the first one. And then these others, they don’t stay very long. We’ve, we’ve gotten along alright with them, but they just decide maybe they want to do something else or something of the kind- and they don’t come back- and another one come…
L: Does that make you sad- cause you kind of get to know them and then they-?
P: And we say- well we like you- get along and then that girl won’t come back no more- so we laughed and told this girl we’re not going to tell her we like her.
L: So is that hard-?
P: She just laughs- oh she’s very nice little girl though…
L: Is that hard when, when you get to know someone like that and then they and then they stop coming to visit?
P: No, we just wait until they-
W: The only one we really got to know well was June-
P: Yes she was about six or seven months- June. Yes she stayed long time with us, she’d come once a week. But uh, like I said, these others we don’t- we say we’re gonna stop tellin’ um we like um- so we turn to this little girl say ‘we don’t like you, so we know you come back’- she just break her side laughin’.
L: Now you said you still keep in touch with um the daughter of the Gables?
P: Uh huh.
L: And does she have children?
P: Now she has two boys- and uh her boys are married, of course, and they- and one boy has two children- two- the one- the youngest don’t have no children, they live in Richmond. And the uh oldest boy that has two children, he and his wife live in Waynesboro- but the two children, of course, they’ve grown up and they live in North Carolina.
L: Now did you ever- you must have known those boys when they were growing up as well- if you were working for their mom- ?
L: So do you have contact with them at all?
P: But I never had to take care of them-
L: No- but do you have contact with them at all? Do you keep in touch with them?
P: Yeah, oh yes they would come over and have their meals and all like that, but uh- I wouldn’t consider it takin’ care of them. But like I said- maybe if their mother would go out and well she would leave them with me- but I still, I wouldn’t consider that takin’ care of the children- although they- this girl tells me that I did- she told me yesterday- say you took care of us and you took care- now you took care of my children- but I don’t consider it-
L: Oh you were talking to the daughter yesterday.
P: Uh the daughter, uh huh- she still says that I took care of all of um- ’cause I was with um for 40 years- I was with them when she got married and I went to her wedding-
L: Where was her wedding?
P: Right- but I still don’t say I took care of the children.
L: Was her wedding right around- right nearby?
P: In Waynesboro- yeah. Yes, she got married at uh Presbyterian Church, they were Presbyterians.
L: So you felt like you were part of the family. Did you feel like you were part of the family working there-?
L: ‘Cause you were there for so long and you would watch TV. with them, and-
L: You were so comfortable with them?
P: yes, I – you would consider it- I still, like I said, I don’t, I don’t say I was a nurse- what do you call them- nursemaid, I don’t, didn’t consider myself a nursemaid.
L: But they do- but the daughter does?
P: Yes, she says I did so ok- I – it’s ok.
L: Um, did you ever have to take care of anyone in your family- during your life? Maybe when your mom got sick, or?
P: Well I wasn’t at home, but I, like I said yes, in a way I did because like I said if I could help out with any – you know with the bills and all like that- I did that- but I wasn’t at home with her cause I was always in Waynesboro like I said. But they-I would help out like I said on bills.
L: So you would send your mom money-
L: When, when she needed it sometimes.
L: How old was- were you when your mom passed away?
P: I was 55.
L: And how old was she- about?
P: Uh, she was 78.
L: 78. And was the stepfather, your stepfather still alive at that time?
P: No, he died first. He was about, he was ’bout- he was 74, cause he didn’t have his 75th birthday- if he had lived to December he would have had his 75th birthday- that was my stepfather, yeah. And then my mother lived about three years after he passed- she passed.
L: Now when you were away in New Jersey working, for example did you talk to your mom on the phone? Or did you write letters with her?
P: No, we didn’t talk on the telephone, cause we didn’t have telephone in those days-but I would write, and I would sent her money if she needed it. I remember that her house burnt down- I was still in New Jersey- and uh she had lost her teeth, and she wrote and told me about it and I told her don’t worry- cause I sent her money so she got new teeth- like that, anytime I could help her out I would and send her money from New Jersey.
L: Now what do you remember about World War II, do you remember um, anything about what was happening?
P: About what?
L: World War II
P: Oh, World War II-
L: Oh I’m sorry was I speaking too fast-
P: No-I thought you said something about me workin’-
L: Oh no- I’m just.
P: World War II-
L: .curious if you have any memories of the war and your experience, you know, working during all that was happening
P: Well I was working, of course, and uh that didn’t effect me- but them we lost uh our brother in World War II
L: You did…
P: Um, but he uh, lets see the war was over, but he was still in service and he went swimming and then Sadie he went down in – what you call-quicksand- drowned
L: Where was he?
P: In Phillapina island or somewhere over.
L: The Philippines? The Philippines?
P: Yes, somewhere over in Philippines.
L: And- um how old was he?
P: How old was Richard? ‘Bout?
W: Let me see- he went to he went into war when he was about 19 and when the war was over in’45 and that’s when he died-
P: Yeah, in the year of ’45, yeah that’s the year he went down in quicksand in ’45- but now we had uh all three of our brothers were in service, ’cause Robert served a little time in service-
P: And Albert, yeah, a little time, and Richard.
W: Albert got wounded-
P: Yeah, yeah, Albert got his finger- lost his two of his fingers while he was in service and we [?] and Wilbert, when Wilbert [?] he was in Ko- what you call it uh?
P: Korea, yeah.
L: In the Korean War?
P: Uh huh, yeah, that was our youngest brother, and uh- well that’s about all I remember of that. I know that the war was over, like I said, in ’45 – that was World War II in ’45.
L: Do you remember, um, rationing-food rationing and gas rationing – things like that?
P: Oh yeah, yes, we had uh, yes even some of our clothes was rationed cause you couldn’t buy shoes, you only had one pair of shoes- cause otherwise you had to give stamps for your shoes or your clothes, and you had, you had to be uh- that was uh, round here I, I reckon it was still up in New Jersey too- that uh things like that, yes. And then we couldn’t buy uh, we had coupons and I remember there was certain things you couldn’t get only with coupons- and that was sugar, and what else was it?
W: Everything really.
P: That you had to give coupons for.
W: Yeah it was rationing- practically everything.
P: I reckon it was practically everything- I do remember sugar, yeah- and uh, different kinds of meat- was flour? Most-most everything, yeah like I said you had to give uh your stamps for- if your stamps ran out you had to wait till next time- next month ‘fore you got new stamps.
L: What do you remember about um, segregation- for example of public transportation, or things like that? Do you remember that it- it upset you that that there was segregation, or? Did you have feelings about it?
P: No, it didn’t bother me but too much- but only like I said, um we had to sit at uh, the back of the- if you rode the bus, you had to ride- sit at the back seat of the bus. I did get in trouble with that- well not sittin’ in the back seat but now – this uh that was in ’67 I went over in Richmond to Leadership school-
L: To what school?
P: And, that was in Richmond
L: What was it, a school?
P: Leadership school- and I would go once a – we have uh, once one week in a year, and I went for about eight or nine years, I reckon. The last time I was, that was in ’67- ok- the bus driver- that was when uh, Rosa Park- you’ve heard all about that story ’bout Rosa Park-ok – I had nothin’ to do with it- but there we were uh, there’s two other girls and me from uh Fishersville went over my two friends- the bus was late, and we had to wait- so ok when the bus came with me all I said ‘oh here come the bus- so glad’- and you know that bus man got mad at me- and he told me if I say another word he’d smack me- but he didn’t smack me. If I had a had another way out I wouldn’t of got on that bus- but I had to ride the bus- and when I got on the bus I was going to say to my friends, “I didn’t say nothing.” And he saw me lookin’ at her saying that – he jumped up out of his seat and come back … me and told me if I opened my mouth again I was going to get off the bus. And I had to take it ’cause I had no other way of comin’- so I sat back in that bus- we didn’t talk to each other from oh from Richmond till we got to Waynesboro. That’s the only experience I really did have with the bus driver- and if I’d had another way I would a stepped off the bus- but he didn’t hit me- that girl say he hit me, but I- he didn’t- but he better not ’cause I’d a stepped off anyhow- he’d a hit me, but he didn’t. But he come back and looked at me and point his finger at me- “if you say another word…” – now why would he put me off the bus? I hadn’t said nothin’ to him?
L: So you think- you feel that he recognized that you were maybe upset because the bus was late- or that’s what he thought- and that’s why he was angry with you?
P: That’s what- the man I reckon, I don’t know what he was thinkin’- I couldn’t say nothin’ to him- cause he told me if I opened my mouth again I was goin’ get off the bus- and I would have if I’d a had another way, but I had to stay on the bus because I had no other way to come out to Richmond from Waynesboro- but thank the Lord when I got to Waynesboro to get off that bus- I got off it-
L: Do you think that he would have spoken to a white woman in the same way? Or was it because you…-
P: It’s just because I was black I reckon- I don’t know- and we didn’t talk to each other this girl- no me and my two friends we sat right on that bus until we got to Waynesboro, and we got off the bus.
L: Were you scared of him?
P: I was a, yeah I was afraid that he might have- uh, well if he’d hit me though I was goin to get off- I don’t care if they got off or not- but they say they woulda got off too, if I’d a got off and we’d a had some other way, I don’t know how we’d a got to Waynesboro- but- but this girl thought he did hit me, but he didn’t. That’s only experience like I say I did have a [?] now whether he was mad about it, I don’t know- but I know I didn’t say nothin to him to make him mad. Now why would he [?] “I’m glad the bus is comin'”- that’s all I said- and he told me if I say another word… – and then when I got on the bus I was gonna tell the girls, my two friends, “I didn’t say nothin to him” – but he saw me sayin’ that- he jumped up out of his seat and came back to the back-
L: Were there a lot of people on the bus? Were there other- a lot of other people on the bus?
P: Yeah, white people were on the bus, yeah- they had the front seat where we had the back seat-
L: Did you think that- do you think the white people were upset by his actions?
P: I don’t know
L: You didn’t have an impression…-?
P: I don’t know- I was miserable, I’m tellin’ you- to sit on the bus all that time and was afraid to open my mouth- because I was afraid he might have put me off, and I had no other way to get to Waynesboro- but when I got to Waynesboro I stepped off that bus-
L: So that was- was that the only experience you remember?
P: That’s the only one-
L: That may have been…?
P: I’ve rode buses since- no I’ve never had no more trouble.
L: Uh huh
L: Uh huh- and besides bus riding – have you had any- do you remember any other experiences-
L: Where maybe you-
L: Were discriminated against?
P: That was the only one, yeah. And if I ever- if he’s ever been my chauffer or bus driver I don’t know- I don’t even remember his face, I just remember he had glasses on- had a b- a cap on that like I said a bus drivers ride- uh you know, wear- that’s all I remember of him.
L: So what- how- what was it like when you realized- you know- when times changed and you didn’t need to sit in the back of the bus anymore- what did that feel like?
P: It didn’t make any difference to me- I never-
L: It didn’t seem different to you or…?
P: …worried about that- no- didn’t make any difference- and even that day it didn’t make any difference- I wouldn’t a- I hadn’t said nothin’ that’s what- reason I was so upset- If I had said somethin’ to him- but like I said if he’d hit me, now he woulda heard somethin- ‘Cause I declare I woulda said somethin, I don’t know what I woulda said, but I would have said somethin to him- and he would have put me off- and I don’t know how I’d a got out of Way- Richmond, but I would have- but this girl say he hit me, but he didn’t-
L: So say-
P: She still says he hit me, but he didn’t- she couldn’t understand either why he was so mad at me- but he didn’t hit me, and I didn’t say nothin ugly to him- only thing I just said I was glad the bus was there- and he told me if I say another word…
L: So segregation didn’t bother you- only if.
L: you were.
L: put in a situation where someone was…
P: No, cause that’s all I was used to- and I know when I got on riding the bus from Fishersville to Waynesboro- we knew that uh back seat was our seat to sit in- and I never mea- said nothin- and if we rode the train we know we had to take the right- uh coach was right back of the engine- that’s where we had to sit, well I knew that- I – I didn’t–that didn’t worry me.
L: You just accepted it?
L: It was what was goin on.
P: No- it was the only thing, like I said that he upset me- over nothing.
P: But he would have, he would have heard somethin me if he’d a hit me.
L: Wow. So how many uh, today how many of your siblings- brothers and sisters are alive?
P: How many what?
L: How many of your brothers and sisters alive today?
P: Just a…
W: Just five girls…
P: Five of us, I got four sisters, and five of us girls are still living.
L: And where do your other sisters live?
P: Two in Staunton, one in Waynesboro, and Sadie and me.
L: Here in Fishersville- Kiddsville.
L: Now who do you spend holidays with? Do you, do all the sister get together for holidays, or?
P: We do sometimes, yeah cause uh I remember last mother’s day – Sadie had us all meet here – at Christmas times now my nephew have us all over to his house- I mean he invites us, I don’t say they all go, but anyway- they can come if they want to but anyway he does have it- that’s my sister that died, that was the one next to me- and uh, her son of course still lives in the house and last Christmas well we went there for Christmas dinner – like we did when she was livin. And my nep- uh two- ah niece- ah lives in Connecticut -she usually comes- that’s this girl’s daughter, I mean my sister’s daughter- she has two daughters that live up in Connecticut- oldest one didn’t come last year- cause she was at the year that um my sister was still living.
L: Do you write letters with them or talk with any of those nieces or nephews?
P: We talk on the telephone- we got a nephew- that was my brother’s son, and we talk on the telephone- but the others I have to write to- but uh, this one lives out in uh, Kansas- ah Kansas, yeah Kansas.
L: Kansas state.
P: Uh huh, yeah and he calls us up on telephone- we chats on telephone, and he writes to us and sends us uh- Sadie’s birthday was uh second of March- he called us up on telephone then he sent her a birthday card- so we just get along like that- together.
L: And do your sisters come here and visit you?
P: Uh huh, yes, one sister called this morning- one in Staunton- talked to Sadie on the telephone this morning- and the other one I think it was yesterday from Staunton called- well day before- when did Margerie call?
W: One day this week.
P: One day anyhow, yes.
L: Do you like reminiscing about your life? Do you like remembering and telling stories about your life?
P: Uh huh, yes- yes, we uh, I even got a book that- no I’m not going to tell you about that cause I have to get my book – ’cause I, we, wrote that letter – that like I, I just write memories of me and I – what I can think of, and can’t spell, but anyway-
L: Do you think it’s easier, um ,when your trying to remember your, your life- having someone like your sister nearby- cause you can kind of-?
P: Yeah, because she brings in what I forget and maybe little things that maybe she forgets or I’ll say remember so and so- I like that, yeah- that’s kinda like history and I’ve always liked history- so I do like that- and then, like I said this nephew he say he likes it, he say he could spend hours- well I believe I could too- on uh just something about if it’s history- somethin about the old days and old times and we still don’t remember too much about it but what he remember his daddy told him, and then I would catch up on because we were older than his daddy- maybe his daddy might’ve been mixed up on some things we have to get him straighten out- all that- but I was- I yeah I like that.
L: Do you remember when your mom um- now did you go home for her funeral? Did you get to come back?
P: Oh yes, I was just over here in Waynesboro.
L: Oh, you were in Waynesboro when she passed.
P: Yes- yes the lady let me off a couple days I was off- probably nearly a week I reckon when she died- cause I remember come a big snow- she died on Christmas- uh- Christmas Day and there was a big snow- we couldn’t go to cemetery- course they took her out to the cemetery but we went to the- her funeral was over here in the little church and then our cemetery was right out there but there was a big snow came and we couldn’t go out to the cemetery.
L: Now if she was here today, can you think of any- is there any one question you kinda wish you’d always asked her? Is there something you always maybe wanted to know about her that you, you, you never thought to ask?
P: There might be now, but I don’t know in those days I reckon I asked everything that I really wanted to know in those days- but maybe I have thought about it now- especially my daddy- how old was he? and uh, things like that, I woulda asked her- and where did they meet? I rememeber now she did tell me that she didn’t have a big church weddin’- but she was married in a church, in a Methodist church- cause he was Methodist faith and she was Baptist.
L: Your dad? Your dad was Methodist?
P: Yes, uh huh, yeah and I remember- she said that- but they didn’t have a weddin’- but they just, the preacher came and whether she had any witness I don’t know about that- but I know she said that they were married in the Methodist church- but there was no, no wedding- now whether it was just the preacher and just the three of them, I don’t know about that- I would question her on that now- but those days isn’t it funny that I didn’t?
L: Did she tell you much about her childhood? When she was growing up?
P: Well- uh, like I said she told us that her mother died when she was three years old- she never knew about her mother- but her father never married again- but I, I remember him, cause I was six years old when he died.
L: And what did he do for work?
P: My stepfather? Oh-
L: Your grandfather?
P: Grandfather- he kinda worked around like I said- in, in those days like I said maybe uh, on the farm- they had to go out and cut corn, you know, somethin like that- maybe shuck corn – and just, you know, things like that that they used to do in those days. He never owned any but just this land right here where his house was built, he did own that- his old house- and then this land where we have our trailer, this was his, my grandfather’s.
L: Oh, your grandfather owned this land as well.
P: But don’t tell me how many acres it is – how many? I don’t know, I’ll leave that off too.
W: I think uh what we sold to the church was a fifth of a acre.
P: Well whatever it was, but we sold the land to the church after we put our trailer on- but this was- this did belong to my grandfather, which was my mother’s father.
L: And what was his last name again? Williams- no that was you stepfather’s name-
P: My stepfather’s Williams. Cause my real uh- my granddaddy which was my mother’s father was a Taylor. My mother, like I said was- she was Mary Lydia Taylor- she married W- uh Patterson. Then she married Williams- so she had to drop some of those names, so she dropped Patterson and she took Williams- but she never changed our names- us three, which is my oldest sister, my brother and me. We were always Patterson, and we called our stepfather Mr. We were never taught to call him nothin but Mr. Williams, and we kept our names Patterson. And like her grand- she remember her grandmother and grandfather, but to me they was still just uncle and cousin- I always called her grandfather Uncle Bob, and I don’t know why I called her grandmother cousin, but I reckon cause my mother said it, I reckon-
L: So you think maybe she told- she, she taught you to call them this?
P: She never changed us-
L: She never corrected you?
P: No- so I reckon that’s how we got it- cause all three of us we said it- Uncle Bob and cousin Julia- and her uncles, all Sadie’s uncles, which was her father’s brothers, they were cousin.
W: She told you to say that.
P: Isn’t this funny now that I think back on it- but when I was a child I never thought about it, of course.
W: She taught you to say.
W: She taught you to say that and taught us to say grandma and-
P: Yeah, because it was y’alls but to us- she must have told us to say it, I reckon – but it’s like I said -see when my mother was married to my stepfather I do not know nothing about it- I remember even my next oldest sister which- that was Virginia she just passed, she was next to me. I don’t remember when she was born I just remember when she was a little baby. And then I remember from then on up- now I remember when Sadie was born- I’m eight years older than she- and uh, all the others, up until, like I said- but uh, all the other just, I don’t know, like I said I just come in as a stepchild.
L: Now did you ever have to baby-sit your brothers and sisters?
P: Oh yeah, yes, I had to take care of um.
L: Did your mother work?
P: Uh huh, yeah.
L: And what she do?
L: Oh, she did- but she didn’t live-in, of course?
P: Oh no, no she was at home- she’d go out and work- or maybe she’d take – uh, now she did take in a wash and an iron and she’d do that at home- then they’d have to carry the clothes in a basket all the way up to these people’s house- she and my oldest brother- he carry a basket of clothes – Sadie you remember that don’t you – [?]
P: You don’t remember that?
W: No and I re-
P: Oh no that was before Sadie was born- [?] we lived up on [?] hill – mama would wash [?] clothes and then she and Robert would carry that basket of clothes- [?] didn’t have cars in those- many cars- maybe a car pass now and then- and they [?] from way over there and walk way over to- probably about, I expect about two miles, but anyway in those days you walk and think nothing about it
L: Did you have a cart, or anything to carry it in? Or a horse, or…
L: …to help. No, just went by foot.
P: Just get up and walked- like when — uh, when we lived on the farm, we’d have to get up and walk to school, and we got up and walked to church, over here to our church. Well, we lived on the farm, I know that farm was at least about two miles- and we’d get up and walk over here for Sunday school and uh, walk back over there- and then for school we’d be over here- school uh, we’d take up classes I reckon about 8:30 or, I guess- and we’d be over here by that time and we walk- then school out you walk back home- think nothin about it- I’ve done a lota walkin’ in my days, I can’t do it now, cause I walk with that.
L: Now, you said the farm- did your mom and step-dad own the farm?
P: No, no, uh uh, he worked on the farm- my mother uh, on the last farm that my step daddy lived on — that last one- her momma used to work, milk cows, that was the McHughes farm-
W: That’s the one momma- but daddy worked on the farm clearin’ up until he was [?] too old, or crippled or-
P: That was uh, that was [?]’s farm
L: So, so he was a um, he would live in a building- your family would live in a building on the farm property?
P: Yes, yes we lived about- see that old log cabin you passed?
L: Uh, huh.
P: We lived in that a- old log cabin – and that’s the [?].owned that, that was a farm that her step daddy worked on.
W: My daddy.
P: Well I said my- did I say her step daddy? – well my step daddy.
L: But the whole, but the whole family lived there together?
P: Uh huh.
L: Your mom and the- your step dad and siblings?
W: Tell her Julia that that was when Richard was born so we didn’t have all these children.
W: When Richard was born up there we didn’t have all the whole family- didn’t have as many children.
P: Oh no, she had more children after she left [?] – After I went to work my mother had four children.
L: After you left the house?
P: After I left, I left at the age of 17- went to work in Staunton, and my mother had four children.
L: So how old was she when she had her last child- approximately? Any idea?
P: How old was momma when she had her last one?
W: I don’t know…
P: I know she had four.
L: Four more-
P: Yes, she had, she had three boys and one girl after I left- I know Margerie was born, Wilber, Joseph, and the little baby was born uh- what would you call it?
W: The last one was still birth.
P: Born uh, premat-
W: Still birth
P: Still birth, that’s what I’m tryin’ to say- yes, still birth- was that a little boy, I think? Think it was a still birth…
W: Yeah, I think she had children up until she- you know what we would call change of life
P: It had to be.
W: Menopause or whatever.
L: So she-
P: She was 78 when she died- she’d had her 78th birthday in August and she died December.
W: She might’ve had until she was 40 something.
P: Yeah, bound to be…
L: So she probably had children till she was about 40 something.
P: She had to be, yes- and had all her children home, too- I mean they weren’t born in a hospital.
L: Did someone come in, you think, and help her?
L: Like I midwife, or?
P: Yeah a midwife, and a doctor, he come in- now maybe, maybe the children might be there- baby be born before the doctor get there- but nevertheless he came- cause my daddy used to have to, my step-daddy rather, had to- that was Mr. Williams, had to walk all the way to telephone, somebody’s telephone and call up the doctor- and we didn’t have a telephone- he had to get up and walk- so sometime like I said, cause I can remember the last baby – that was my sister, let’s see- Arizona was the last one- when she went- that’s the one livin in Stanton now- that was Arizona- and when Margerie was born- that was the next one, I was already living in Staunton then. Margerie and, and like I said Margerie and Wilbert, Joseph and the baby that she lost. I said Wilbert, didn’t I? Yeah, he was born after I left. Course I didn’t tell my momma, but the woman I was workin’ for said, “Your mother had all her children, now she’s havin’ her grandchildren!” I didn’t tell momma that…
P: I know she wouldn’t of liked it- that was somethin smarty-
P: But she didn’t tell me to tell my momma that and I didn’t tell her either-
L: Do you wish now that you’d had children of your own?
P: No, we’d had enough brothers and sisters.
L: Enough kids around, right?
P: But I loved my brothers and sisters, now don’t say I hated them- I loved them, but I didn’t need any of ‘um I’m like that woman…
L: You took care of them when you were younger so you sorta did your- did your part.
P: Yeah it was [?] was the last one- I, I started takin’ care of um- I [?] momma takin’ care of Sadie too much, I thi- Louise used to take care of Sadie.
W: Almost let me drown.
P: I- huh?
W: Almost let me drown.
P: No- well I wasn’t takin’ care of you- say Louise was in the house- but you came over in, yeah, where I was but I wasn’t takin’ care of you- it was Louise was in the house and she was supposed to been takin’ care of you- and you got out the house somehow and came over and when I was over washing some clothes in the creek- and when I looked around Sadie was in that water and water was up around here- and I stepped over in there and grabbed her took her to the house and we got her changed and momma never knew that- we didn’t tell her that- but Louise was supposed been takin’ care of her- that was my oldest sister. But I started takin’ care of I reckon, Albert- and Albert and Richard and Lydia and Arizona then I left, and then like I said momma had four more after I left.
L: So did you get to know those siblings as well?
P: Uh huh, yes.
L: Even though you were out of the house?
P: Yeah, I loved them all – they all were my sisters and my brothers. And like I said that- different names in- my stepfather’s- after I growed up now I remember Virginia tellin’ me, after momma died, she say Julia says Mr. and she goes by another name, and said don’t look like she’s in the family- oh yes I feel- still feel like I’m in the family- I didn’t- never made no difference. See when your a child it’s just the way that you grow up- and I never growed up feelin’ different, even though he was my step daddy- but I still didn’t- didn’t he was just a man in the house I reckon.
*****Removed portion, upon request of narrator****
L: But you never had to do anything like – you never had to um, you said deal with any of the children- any of the homes you worked in the children were never- would never talk back to you- or
P: No, no.
L: You never had any cause to have problems with any of those children?
P: No, no I never had no trouble with them.
L: Well, can you remember any other stories…?
P: No, that’s enough.
L: That you wanna tell me about? Any other memorable moments in your life?
P: That’s enough now.
L: Nothing offhand? Ok, well it’s been really great hearing your stories and I really appreciate it.
P: Now you recording all that stuff?
L: Uh huh.
W: Uh huh.
End if recording.