And so this little boy said "You see her? She took all my marbles."
I said "Yes I took your marbles, 'cause you couldn't keep 'em in your pocket." And I said [degraded audio], and I said "I gave 'em back to you in the summertime [degraded audio] I said "No, [degraded audio] going to see that boy shooting marbles now. And girls had jack [degraded audio]
Yep, playing jacks. I remember playing jacks.
And jump rope; one girl she'd [degraded audio] computer stuff. Toys all year and things. We got one thing at Christmas and a little candy; that's all we got, and glad to get it. They didn't have trick-or-treat there either.
They didn't? No trick-or-treating?
No, not way back they didn't.
It wasn't meant to go around like that. They have one lady sometimes that'd give some donuts [degraded audio] no, we didn't have no trick-or-treat. They say in sometime the mothers would have- those [degraded audio] would have their children come and play, and it was supervised. But they said Halloween was devil's work, that's what they called it. But oh my goodness. And I like I said, I really enjoyed Simms school. Because I had to do so much work there. Then when I went to [degraded audio] school, I didn't have to work as hard.
And you taught for 24 years at Simms school until 1966?
Includes '66, I was one of them tenures(?).
Why did it close?
On account of the...
Desegregation. It closed in '66 and I went to [degraded audio] in '66, September of 66. The first thing they wanted me to do was to bring the children up to [degraded audio] to get to get to see the place because I didn't have many black children, because it took them most of winter would [degraded audio] this area. And so I went there to teach first grade.
We had three first grade teachers moved about that's what the date was some more years and see the high school went in 1965. [degraded audio] to do this thing. And then in '66, all the black schools closed. And then just everybody went to the same school and my little niece was 14 work(?) called Mary Anne [degraded audio]. She was 14 and she went to high school over there, and me and one white teacher and one black man [degraded audio] one year. We went to Wegman and when [degraded audio] [Cheryl starts to speak, but Mary continues] We had - it was [degraded audio] country school in 60 before we left up here, and we had a nasty white principal; nasty, he would say the things he wanted to say. And he said that Mr. Moore and me because Mr. Moore was the [degraded audio] teacher, [degraded audio] I told him, "Let me tell you-" I forget his name now, I said "I like children." I said "I like children and I'm not worried about it," because I said "I treat all children alike," I said "If you treat children," I said "children know who they- who likes and who doesn't, and that nobody'd love 'em the way you taught 'em(?) really lazy and since I do, I'm not worried about [degraded audio].
Well he said that he thought they wouldn't like you?
That principal, he was up there for one year, he was there one year we were trying to [degraded audio] his name was Nicholas.
Was he white or black?
White. [degraded audio] two black teachers stayed up there. So I went back home to the home community [degraded audio] was real nice and quiet. Now I said "All I have to do is teach them like I taught the children at Simms." [Cheryl says "That's right.] And that's what I did, and the children loved me too, and they never said anything ugly to me, not the parents either. The parents were just as nice to me as a parent can be. At Christmas time I'd have a shopping bag full of stuff to bring home; some of them would bake me cookies, some of them would send me this and send me that, and the children would bring me things; and the two white teachers, we would have the best time with those children, because they would know music, and I was already doing music for the black school. So I told Mr. O'Donnell, I said "Mr. O'Donnell, I want a piano for my room." I said "Could I have the piano that's coming from the Simms school, since it's going to close?" He said "Oh yes, I'll get some men out to talk to the school board and get somebody to get that piano in your room that you have there, and they'll put it in here." And that's what he did. And that piano was there the whole time I was there.
Oh that's wonderful.
[degraded audio] when the children sat around the floor like that. We'd sing all kinds of nursery rhymes and "Jesus Loves Me"—that's before we kicked Jesus out of schools—and "Jesus Loves The Little Children," and all those things and Mr. O'Donnell sometimes would come down from his office and he'd stay outside and listen a while [laughs] that's why we'd open the door. He's always [degraded audio] and some days, we take him out on the yard; that's when um, when, one school had a hillside, they cut that hillside down [degraded audio] and at the bottom was kind of a little stream [degraded audio] And so one of the teachers would bring peanuts in the shell [coughs], and [degraded audio] while the children were doing something; throw the peanuts up in the air and have a peanut scramble. [Cheryl laughs] Children scramble for peanuts. All kinds of things we did. And I had the most—even now—the most beautiful relationship with the Waterman(?) teachers. Now Mrs. [degraded audio] died. [degraded audio] This lady's name was white, because she married [degraded audio] Oh, what was her name? She was a second grade teacher at Waterman(?). She died several weeks ago.
And you taught(?) with her? [Mary says "huh?"] You taught with her?
Yeah. Well she was with that group you know, and Caroline Rowling(?), have you heard of her? [Cheryl says "mmm mmm" (no, presumably)] and [degraded audio] all the schools all the teachers at Waterman, they're gone(?), and a couple have died and Mr. O'Donnell's dead, he was such a good principal, and [degraded audio] can you get his stuff together that'll do it? [laughs] While I was up at Simms school, I had been driving(?) and going back [degraded audio] and got my bachelor's. [Cheryl says "Ahhhh"] In education.
What years did you do that?
The bachelor's I got in... [lengthy pause as she thinks] let's see... it must have been... [another pause] in the 40s, it must have been.
Oh, so it's right after you started teaching then. [Mary says "huh?"] Right after you started teaching then?
Yes, well not right away, [degraded audio] that's the summertime [Cheryl says "Mhm"] [degraded audio] teach in winter and thinking how [degraded audio] this time I get paid on the way. And also the state gave money to the black students, if you promise to teach in Virginia. [Cheryl says "Oh?] Well perhaps I'd been up there a long time, 'cause I said [degraded audio] "Well maybe if I had a Master's, I don't know what'll happen. So before I left Simms in 1952 [degraded audio] that's when I went to New York [degraded audio] Staunton, when I was up there [degraded audio] came to Harrisonburg, he said "Mary we're going to take teachers from Columbia University. Why don't you come and go with us?" [degraded audio] And Momma said "Why do you want to go up to New York City?" I said "Well Momma the girls want me to go, and I ain't never been to New York before," and I said "I'm old enough to go to New York." [both laugh] So then we started going to New York every summer. And so, we got our master's in four summers and they gave me credit for my bachelor's, they gave me credit for this, which was [degraded audio] to teach this special workshop; they even gave me credit for that. So I just had to go four even(?) summers with nothing left over. So then that way I got my master's degree in early childhood education [Cheryl says "wow"]. So, one day I'm walking to school, already had my master's but I don't brag(? about what I have. [degraded audio] Up here. So Mr. Dove down is sitting around and he wants to have [degraded audio] teacher [degraded audio] where the white teachers could go to work or go to James Madison, Eastern Mennonite, Bridgewater, and they had opportunity, to go to any one they wanted to go; but I would have to go somewhere else. [degraded audio] to go walk to school. So [degraded audio] I got grants and things to go to other schools. And so they paid from that for me to go to New York [degraded audio] room and board [degraded audio] paying for your subjects and classes and things like that. [degraded audio] and so I finished that in 1956 [pause before the 6] I guess. And during that time, it was time for graduation, Momma died; and I couldn't go back and get my diploma, but they mailed to me because I wanted to be there [degraded audio] way up there at Columbia [degraded audio]. Oh it was a wonderful summer, bunch of good things they had; I'd be scared to go to New York now. But New York was wonderful. So I stayed up there, I went for four summers [degraded audio] and one teacher had a master's. And he had one, and the rest of them, some still had the normal paper(?), two-year certificates [degraded audio] opportunity and they said "Hmm, wonder who else up here's got a masters." [degraded audio] I just had to come to get one of those [degraded audio] sodas(?), and I said "I have it. Honey you got [degraded audio] and Lord they were shocked; you should've seen them get down there trying to get their bachelor's [degraded audio] when someone would come [degraded audio] New York, but I did. I came [degraded audio] out of there and my niece has come to see me now. She was born in 1952. Sometime I go by her age, and [degraded audio] and she got her master's from Petersburg University, but they call it uh... what'd they call it over there? [degraded audio] something or other. But she took, she took her bachelor's and master's from there. And then my brother Joe, I think [degraded audio] don't work. [coughs] He had the same problem that I had. [degraded audio] My brother Fred wanted to be a carpenter, he didn't want to have nothing to do with all that stuff. So my brother Joe ended up as a doctorate, a doctorate from University of Virginia.
From UVA, he became a doctor. But he's on- I don't think he's on there because [degraded audio], and I cried about it, because I love him so much. And I [degraded audio] to help him in his school, and he was a work student too. Both of us started as work students. And they found what kind of man he was(?), because they didn't even have a bookstore, to sell the books and things, and tabs and papers. He worked at that, when they found out that he was a good guy. And then he had married- he married when he was in the army. And he has three daughters. One is a lawyer and one has a TV show on acro- not acrobats but some kind of physical(?) thing. And the other's um...
Aerobics? [Mary says "huh?"] Aerobics?
Yeah, aerobics, and the youngest one is a bank executive and she's in Pittsburgh. He has had three daughters. But we all try to do something. My sister was a beautician. And so we all tried to- and we kept [degraded audio] parents and to do things and so they could be comfortable. And my daddy was 10 years older than Momma. [degraded audio] at Newport News working and [degraded audio] he couldn't get the job. There was nothing to do. But the army needed men to build things and fix things. And Daddy said [degraded audio] what you're saying somebody down there. And he thought he had [degraded audio] that day. He had a heart attack and died. [Cheryl says "Aww"] Well, Daddy would always send Momma money by wire [degraded audio] Well he was my grandmother's brother. My grandmother [degraded audio] since my grandmother had passed. She was 79 when she died. And she was Momma's momma [degraded audio] because her husband had died. And so, my uncle came back up to [degraded audio] that evening a telegram cane and Momma laid it on the table there and he said "Nanny aren't you going to open the telegram?" and she said "[degraded audio] to save us some money [degraded audio]" and then Thomas said to her "You better open this telegram, your husband is dead [degraded audio]." Momma started screaming, we girls and boys started screaming, we just- it just killed us and they wanted someone to come and identify his body, and so Uncle Sam said "Well, me and Mary(?) will go; catch a bus out of here tonight, and go to Newport News and claim his body and Lindsay(?) can come and get it." Well my brother Fred had just got home(?) from the army, because this is 19...
Somewhere in there, yeah.
The war was over in '45.
Uh huh, 'cause they were(n't?) in the army too long, 'cause they take 18-year old boys, and he and another friend from Bridgewater, they'd seen each other, so [degraded audio] and the one boy he said "No," he said "me and Fred'll go." And so Momma [degraded audio] so he and Fred took a late bus out of here—that's when you had good Greyhounds—and went to Newport News and claimed Daddy's body and then [degraded audio] went and got him. My mother got into bed and wouldn't get out. She said "I just buried my mother so many weeks ago. I can't bury nobody else close like that to me." Well here we are, children, and of course my sister, she had a nervous breakdown. Well there I was and there was Joe- no Joe, Joe didn't get home, the Red Cross was [degraded audio] but the army wouldn't let him loose because he was an officer at the army, because he'd had ROTC when he went to University of Virginia [degraded audio] so we had one of these ministers [degraded audio] he said [degraded audio], he said "Mrs. Awkward, get out your bed. YOU are the one who's [degraded audio], not your children, YOU are the one to go." Momma said "But I can't." and he said "Yes you can. I'll pray for you here, you can go(?)." Well see Daddy's sister lived here too. Well, Momma got up and tried(cried?), 'cause she had to [degraded audio] clothes and things you know? And so his sister lived here, and she and Aunt Fanny(?) they went down to [degraded audio] and got the funeral together and Mama went home but she was, she decided she just could not [degraded audio] for her husband after her mother died just about six weeks before. But here's another stranger. [degraded audio] and I saw somebody, it looked like a man's legs, sitting by the stool but they couldn't [degraded audio] You couldn't see the whole body; and I went back upstairs, I'd just come midway to get a drink of water downstairs. [clears throat] So I went back and told Momma, I said "Momma, I saw a man, sitting in a chair by the stove downstairs, and I think it was Daddy." Oh man she flew out(?). She said "You haven't seen nothing [degraded audio], you know your Daddy's still [degraded audio] I don't know what you saw, I don't think you saw anything yet, because you're still not right from your grandmother dying." Because our grandmother had, she had a stroke, and still lived with us eight days, or something like that. [degraded audio, cut off by end of tape]