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0:20 - The Wake Forest Community

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: So, if you can just tell me a little bit about last time- you said your grandfather built the church that is right in front of your house. So, if you could just kind of start with a little bit of history of Wake Forest, of what you know, and some family history from the area.

Esther Jones: Well, I would say the church was built in nineteen and twenty, the year I was born

Keywords: Wake Forest

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Wake Forest

3:49 - The Mines of Montgomery County

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Partial Transcript: Esther: Mostly they, my grandfather worked on the railroad, they worked on the railroad. And of course, then in the meantime, the mines came about. 'Course, I know you've heard a whole lot about the mines.

Keywords: Great Valley Mines; Mines; New River Valley

Subjects: Mines; Mining; Virginia Mining; Wake Forest

8:31 - World War II

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: During World War II, were the mines still operating or at that point had they shut down?

Esther: Oh, they were still operating because my husband did not stop going to that mine. He been in the Navy.

Keywords: Mines; Mining; Navy; Okinawa; World War II

Subjects: Mining; World War II

13:28 - Race Relations in World war II and Montgomery County

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: That's understandable. Did they ever tell any stories about any racial tension during the war or anything like that? There's a lot of books out there now that are being published talking about different racial things during the war.

Keywords: Race; World war II

Subjects: Race; World War II

17:01 - Running the Family Mine

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Partial Transcript: Esther: As I said because his life was in that mines. He loved mining. And that was hard work too, working in the mines. And, I was, as I told you, the bookkeeper, the payroll person for when he had his little mine

Keywords: Mining

Subjects: Mining

19:55 - Working After CI

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: Did you work in the mines right after CI? After graduating from there? Or, did you have other jobs in between? Can you kind of tell us how your career went after graduating from CI?

Keywords: Marriage; Radford Arsenal; Virginia Tech; Working

Subjects: Mining; Virginia Tech; Working

28:08 - Boarding Experience at CI

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: I guess we'll take a step back now and kind of go back to the CI questions. You talked a lot about your boarding experience at CI, boarding there. Now, why did you board at CI? Was it too far of a drive? Did your parents choose for you to board there? Did you have a choice at all?

Esther: There was no choice

Keywords: Boarding; Bussing; Christiansburg Institute; Pulaski County

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

39:40 - Esther Meeting Her Husband

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: Did your husband go to CI? Or how did you meet your husband?

Esther: No, he was just an area boy here in Wake Forest

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Mines; Wake Forest

Subjects: Christiansburg; Wake Forest

45:01 - Extracurricular Activities at CI

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: So what types of things would you guys do for fun, after you were done your work and things like that? Would you play games?

Esther: Yes, we'd play games. We'd play Whist, cards.

Keywords: Cards; Christiansburg Institute; Games; Parlor; Plays

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Extracurriculars

57:48 - Esther's Children at CI

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: When your children went to CI, did you remember any of their experiences? You must have been proud of them and their opportunity to go to CI. Do you remember them coming home with any different stories that were vastly different from your own experience?

Keywords: Children; Football

Subjects: Cheerleading; Christiansburg Institute; Football


´╗┐Tyler Bergeron: This is Tyler Bergeron here with Esther Jones on November 9, 2012 and we're just going to talk a little bit about the Wake Forest community and some more follow up questions on CI, and I guess we can start. So, if you can just tell me a little bit about last time- you said your grandfather built the church that is right in front of your house. So, if you could just kind of start with a little bit of history of Wake Forest, of what you know, and some family history from the area.

Esther Jones: Well, I would say the church was built in nineteen and twenty, the year I was born. So, [laughter] you know how old I am. And, the Cowans down on Kentland Farm, they gave the lumber but you had to go in the mountain, cut the trees, and get it to the sawmill, and get it all sawed and all. But, they gave it- all the material they need for it and so that's the year that it was built.


Tyler: So did your family go and get the lumber out of the--? Did they cut down the trees and everything, was that a family undertaking or--?

Esther: Community, a community undertaking. They would come down and of course everybody, most men had a horse and everything- that way, they could drag it out and get it to the sawmill. Of course, during that time, there was sawmills all around because people was dealing so much with timber. For the making cross-ties for the railroad and the mines and all that. But they did give the lumber to build the little church.

Tyler: So how long has your family lived in this area? Have they been here since 2:00Wake Forest was created or did they move in after?

Esther: Well, I guess they were here when it was created. When it was given, I guess, you know. Oh, that had to be in eighteen-hundred something, I guess.

Tyler: Did your grandfather ever tell any stories about Wake Forest in its early stages or any interesting stories about Wake Forest?

Esther: You know, I don't think people really went into too much of talking about it. It was just something they was so busy working, trying to make it. You know. It was, as I said, all of it was a mining area I understand. That's how the name became Wake Forest. Said where they had awakened the forest. When there was people cuttin' down trees, people building homes and building churches and 3:00so forth and all. So, that's what I was told, that that's how the name Wake Forest came about.

Tyler: Do you know what your grandfather did for work before building a church and everything. Was that kind of just a side job?

Esther: Well, he was a carpenter, you know that. I told you I think before. He built a lot of homes around, out in McCoy, some of the older homes and all. Mostly they, my grandfather worked on the railroad, they worked on the railroad. And of course, then in the meantime, the mines came about. 'Course, I know 4:00you've heard a whole lot about the mines. The Big Vein mines and also the Great Valley mines- we had two big mines, you know, back. I told you my husband, he operated the last actual mines that was working here. See, the Jones, he used to-

Tyler: Oh, yeah.

Esther: [laughter] I was gonna let you know that he and another fella had the mines back then. When you go out of Wake Forest, when you still makin' a left going out of here. If you turn right and go out the road just a little, just less than a mile, you'll see the monument if you wanna go out and look at it. It's right out the road. You know, when you turn off McCoy Road onto Wake Forest Road, go right out the road.

Tyler: It's only a mile down there?

Esther: Huh?

Tyler: It's only a mile down the road?

Esther: It's not a mile, not a mile. You go right out there, you pass the fire station, you know, the emergency place and the monument is right by it, I think. 5:00Right by our cemetery.

Tyler: So can you tell me a little bit more about the mines? It seems like a pretty big family thing, you seem pretty proud of it.

Esther: Oh, [laughter] my whole family was involved. My father, he worked in the mines. And, course, he developed that black lung and all of that. It had taken a lot of lives. Of course it was all that dust down in there. But, in the later years when my husband came along when they had the mines in the mountain, it was more or less a family affair. They used mules at the mines to pull the cars. I don't know what capacity they were doing that, but they worked them in the 6:00mines. Every Friday when my husband came home, he brought two mules with him and let 'em, put 'em on so they could pasture, you know, put 'em out to pasture. So, that was a chore. Then, Sunday evening they would take 'em back up to the mines. They had a barn, a stable in other words, they would stay in up there at the mines, but he would bring them home for the weekend. As I say that, I think, did I tell you that I kept up the books, I kept the payroll? He had about twenty-one people that worked there. Of course, it was a smaller mines. It wasn't a bigger mines. I had to take out the social security and also send the payroll up to the people that actually owned it. It was up in the Baltimore area. I'd make a 7:00monthly little report and send there. So they were organized, they were, into the United Mine Workers of America. A lot of people got these little mines, what they call scab mines. They just dug out coal and sold it for their own living. But, the big mines closed which was the United Mine Workers, automatically. That was the big company that owned all of this. And so, the men that worked in his mines were members of the United Mine Workers of America. So, that's the reason when things closed down, they were entitled to a pension. And the men that had black lung got a black lung fund. Well, right now I get a check from the United 8:00Mine Workers and also get my husband's black lung, too, and all things. He's been gone for twenty-nine years.

Tyler: So your husband worked in the mines also?

Esther: Oh, he run the mines.

Tyler: The whole time? I mean, from when he was younger 'til?

Esther: No, I mean, when he was younger he worked in the mines but when he take on the one I'm talking about operating, he was the one that operated it.

Tyler: During World War II, were the mines still operating or at that point had they shut down?

Esther: Oh, they were still operating because my husband did not stop going to that mine. He been in the Navy. He was in the Navy during World War II, and it was after he come out the Navy that he started. When he was at one of the mines, they were kinda shuttin' down a little bit. So, that was when he opened the 9:00mines. It was sort of a branch off from the one, what was known as the Big Vein mines.

Tyler: So he was in the Navy during the War?

Esther: Um-hm. He was in Okinawa and all over in there, you know, the Philippines and all that kind of stuff.

Tyler: Did a lot of people from the community leave during the war to go in the military?

Esther: I mean, it wasn't no choice, then. See now you went and volunteer if you want to go. That was a sad time, because he sure didn't wanna go.

Tyler: So he was drafted?

Esther: Yeah, he was drafted.

Tyler: Did he ever tell you what he thought about being drafted? Was there a level of--he wanted to go at all? Or was it just-

Esther: He just did not want to go. When he went to--I don't know how you call 10:00it--I guess to do the final work and all, a bunch of 'em went, about five or six went. Now, my brother and he went together. My brother, they put him in the Army and put my husband in the Navy. [laughter]

Tyler: When he got back, did he say he enjoyed it at all? Or did he not enjoy it?

Esther: [laughter] I don't think he enjoyed it. And, I had a young baby, my daughter was seven months old, I think--eight or something like that--when he left. Now this is not interesting- y'all gone have to put a- say something about this. But he left then I found out I was pregnant. So, my son was over a year old before he saw him. You know, before he got to see him. Now, I was with two 11:00little babies in two rooms. This room and that room. This was my kitchen and everything. It was a big room. You know it was big to be a kitchen and that. I had two baby beds and my bedroom suit in one room there. 'Course when he got home then we built on to the house. But, I had a merry, merry good time. I had good neighbors though, real good neighbors. I had my in-laws lived right down below me, and also I had my aunt that lived real close to me, and my mother. Of 12:00course she lived way back in the mountain when mine was born. But she was here all the time.

Tyler: So the community really helped you when he was gone.

Esther: Yes.

Tyler: Did you have a lot of contact with him through letters while he was in the navy?

Esther: It takes so long to get the letters. Yes, I would write, but it'd take weeks. You know, you didn't get very often.

Tyler: Now, your brother, is he also from Wake Forest, too?

Esther: My-

Tyler: The one who went into the army, is that your brother?

Esther: What, Linwood?

Tyler: Uh- your husband that went into the Navy and there was the other one who went into the Army.

Esther: Um-hm, my brother went into the army. You have to remind me and bring me back to what I'm talkin' about.

Tyler: That's okay. So, your brother went into the army. Is he also from Wake Forest?


Esther: Yes, sure.

Tyler: Did he- he was also drafted?

Esther: Yes.

Tyler: Did he enjoy his time?

Esther: I don't think any of 'em enjoyed it. Maybe if they got there and they knew- they had to try to be contented because there was nothing they could do about it. But they didn't go out here and volunteer, I'm tellin' ya that.

Tyler: That's understandable. Did they ever tell any stories about any racial tension during the war or anything like that? There's a lot of books out there now that are being published talking about different racial things during the war.

Esther: Yeah, they would mention it, but we never dwelled on that too much because my neighbors, when I lived back in the mountain, my home, they were all white around us, you know? We was always close. It was no big issue, you know. 14:00Something's gonna come up all the time, a little something, you know. But they worked together, at the mines together. We were always together. So it wasn't too much of that, but I think when they kinda went into the army I've heard some of them say they kinda making a difference and all. But, I always was taught that people were people- we didn't choose what we were gonna be. So, why make an issue of it?

Tyler: Right, yeah.

Esther: Just go on and love everybody and be happy. Now, we worship up here in this little church, you know, and we had a good time. Sometimes a white minister, sometimes a black minister, you know. We had just always been a- in 15:00this area- we were a close knit people.

Tyler: How did the war affect your daily life? I mean, because there were rationing and things like that. Did things change a lot during the war? Or did life pretty much stay the same, despite the fact that your husband and a lot of the men were gone?

Esther: Well, it wasn't easy. It was kinda hard but we made it. We had to- I don't think I ever got any rations. You know, food and all. We had an income, wasn't much, but you make do with what you got and handle it wisely. We didn't come into too much conflict with that.


Tyler: So during World War II, it seems like the community really came together to support everyone when everyone else was gone.

Esther: Um-hm, yes.

Tyler: Is there any interesting stories that came out of that? Or, any homecomings when the soldiers came back that were big celebrations?

Esther: Oh yes, when they come back they had a big day for 'em. People celebrated when the war was over. It was a happy time, the boys got to come home. But, maybe two or three reenlisted if they liked it. If you couldn't find a job they'd go out here and reenlist. I know one or two in the community did that. Then they got caught up in that Korean war. But I knew my husband and my brother, they weren't gonna do that. As I said because his life was in that 17:00mines. He loved mining. And that was hard work too, working in the mines. And, I was, as I told you, the bookkeeper, the payroll person for when he had his little mines. I may have mentioned when you all were here before, we haulin' the dynamite. I did, didn't I? Or did I?

Tyler: I don't recall. I think you mentioned it, but, if you could tell us the story again, that would be great.

Esther: I had to go over to Vicker, that's way over here where they ship the dynamite in from wherever they made it. I would go and get it for the mines, you 18:00know. They'd put it in the trunk of my car, those boxes, in the trunk of the car. I was scared I would hit a bump [laughter] driving back. The first time I went to pick up the dynamite, I dodged- we had dirt roads, rough roads- I finally got it back in the mountain. I didn't know you had to plug it into something for it to explode. [laughter] I didn't know all the procedure of how they set up the explosion but it had to be connected to something. But I would take my time- I didn't want to take no chances. And then, I had to go to Bluefield, West Virginia to out there where they had Bluefield Supply that had all kinds of mining things if something break at the mines. My husband would 19:00come here and bring the truck and I would go to Bluefield. I'd take that truck and go to Bluefield. He would take the car and go back up in the mountain. We'd swap like that 'cause I would go out there and get supplies, too. It was exciting when you think about it, but wasn't all that fun when you were doing it. [laughter]

Tyler: So you would drive out there yourself to get the supplies?

Esther: Um-hm, you know where Bluefield is, it's a good ways away. Me and that truck on the highway going to [laughter]. But on the whole, it was a good life. You don't miss what ya--you didn't have enough or high if it go. That's the way it went, so why not just buckle down and enjoy? No need of sitting back pitying.


Tyler: So, how long after graduating from CI was it before- did you work in the mines right after CI? After graduating from there? Or, did you have other jobs in between? Can you kind of tell us how your career went after graduating from CI?

Esther: After I graduated, I think I told you, I up and got married, so I become a housewife shortly afterwards. I graduated in 19[39], I got married in 19[40].

Tyler: So after being a housewife, what was your first job after that? Did you-

Esther: [20:37 inaudible] I worked at the arsenal a while. I had two different times that I worked. Because the first time I worked up in Dublin in the part of the plant. The arsenal was in Dublin, I worked there. Then I worked over at the 21:00arsenal 'cross the, you know where that is, don't ya? Back that way, you don't know?

Tyler: No.

Esther: It's still operatin', ya know, makin' that powder and stuff over there at the arsenal. I worked there for a while and then I went out and I did day work, you know, different families. Then I went on to Tech's campus later and worked there on the campus in the custodian department. That's where the president got me from there--President Hahn. I know you don't know him and also you didn't know Lavery either, he came later. I retired from Virginia Tech. I had sixteen or seventeen years of work for Tech.


Tyler: Can you tell us a little bit more about your work at Tech? About what you did at Virginia Tech. You said custodial-

Esther: Custodial was cleaning the offices. I was in Norris Hall, there at Tech. The one that had all that killing that happened several years, a few years ago. Classrooms and offices, cleanin' there and then when I left there I went to, as I told you, the president's house, where I was chief cook and the bottle washer. [laughter]

Tyler: Last time I was here you mentioned, I think, it was driving to pick people up for-

Esther: Oh, yeah.

Tyler: Can you tell us anything more about that? Because that sounded interesting and we didn't really get to cover that last time.

Esther: Well, whatever need to be done, you did it. If some of the people were 23:00comin' in, they was flyin' in to Roanoke, coming to the Board of Visitors, some of them. Even their parents flew. So I would drive down to the airport and pick them up. It was one of those jobs, jack of all trades but you weren't master of any. But whatever was needing doing, and their kids was takin' music lessons, and first one thing then another, taking them to the place, pick 'em up. Then, practically run the house.

Tyler: So you knew the president very well.

Esther: Oh yes, I knew him very well. I remember when Board of Visitors came there one time when Dr. Hahn was the president. And, of course, we had this big luncheon because I was the chief cook, too. I fixed it, I got it all in. When I 24:00came into the dining area, where they was eating I came in and served something- Dr. Hahn introduced me as the prettiest one in the family. [laughter] So, I walked over to meet the- Mrs. Jones, they called me Mrs. Jones- say they have a new member in our family. So I was there with the Hahns and they had three children. Then, I was there with the Laverys and they had four children.

Tyler: So, did you actually feel like a member of their family?

Esther: Yes.

Tyler: It seems like they took you in as a member of their family.

Esther: So, it was very pleasant. Very pleasant. Sometimes I stayed there. If there wasn't too much to do, I'd go there for about four hours and come home. Depends on what was going on. But when we'd have dinners--we had lots and lots 25:00of big dinners--I'd go there in the morning and get all the things together. Because there were a lot of things you could fix ahead of time and thank God for a freezer. But then I would come home for about three or four hours and then I'd get dressed up and go back out to be there to serve the dinner and get it all together. So, I mean, it was enjoyable work. I enjoyed it.

Tyler: How did the children of the presidents- did they enjoy your company?

Esther: Oh, yeah.

Tyler: I mean, did they become your own children almost?

Esther: [laughter] They were little pests, but some of 'em I couldn't turn from. Now, when I first went to the Hahns, Anne was the baby--of course you don't know 26:00who I'm talking about, I'm just calling a name--but she couldn't stand me. She didn't even want to even look at me and Dr. Hahn was trying to make her. I finally, I told him, leave her alone, she'll be okay. When she get used to me, she'll be okay. Just don't bother. Don't make her if she don't wanna speak to me. Before I left there, I couldn't turn from her. She stayed under my feet, you know? As I say, you win 'em over. Just go on and let 'em roam. Because she was--well, the other lady that had worked there had her rotten and she couldn't get her. She'd just give over to her and everything and she just couldn't get over the fact that she wasn't there. So she decided to ignore me. But I got along with the children real well. I didn't have no problem with 'em. 'Course I 27:00had children of my own, so I knew how to approach 'em. But I've never tried to put yourself on 'em. Let 'em. Give 'em time.

Tyler: So of all the careers you had after CI, is Virginia Tech your favorite, because it seems like you have a lot of positive memories from working with the presidents and things like that?

Esther: No, I can't think of anything, just being there and being family, ya know? When they would have functions on the campus, if their family went, I went with them. We went together. His inauguration, all of the big functions and stuff like that on campus. It was nice. You just don't push yourself on people, 28:00you kinda gradually come into it.

Tyler: I guess we'll take a step back now and kind of go back to the CI questions. You talked a lot about your boarding experience at CI, boarding there. Now, why did you board at CI? Was it too far of a drive? Did your parents choose for you to board there? Did you have a choice at all?

Esther: There was no choice. There was no school buses running in this area. And I guess it was consolidated because they did have a bus that come from Pulaski and Radford down to bring students down, but it was no choice. Where I lived and 29:00all, you had to board. Nobody could afford to drive to Christiansburg and back and all that kinda stuff. So, that's the reason I went there as a boarding student.

Tyler: Do you know when they implemented transportation from this area to Christiansburg? Because, you said that your children, years later, were able to take the bus in. Do you know when the transportation changed?

Esther: I guess it changed about- I don't exactly know but I know when my children came, it was a bus runnin'. I told ya my son drove the bus one year, parked it right here by my house [laughter]--the school bus. That was no choice, then. If you went, you had to board because you could not- nobody to take you back and forth every day. That was out of the question. When I went there in September, I didn't get back home until November for Thanksgiving when the 30:00school was closed for Thanksgiving holidays. That's when I come home.

Tyler: Did your parents ever visit you at CI? 'Cause your brother went there also, too.

Esther: Oh yeah, um-hm. They would visit. Not often 'cause they couldn't. My father was kinda losing his health during that time, too. He would visit. Of course you wrote them and they wrote you, send you a little money. But anyway, it was just like a home away from home. We had our chores to do there and we had to abide by the rules of the school.

Tyler: What type of chores would you have to do around there? Was it just cleaning or did you have to take care of-

Esther: Well, I was in the kitchen mostly. I would help with the, mostly the 31:00noon meal. It depends on how your classes run. If you had a class from eleven to one, well, you went on to the kitchen. You got your hours in, but you worked in the kitchen. I helped the cook and prepare the meals and they had girls that waiters, they waited on the table. They also had a laundry there because the laundry was done there. The boys would bring their laundry over Sunday evening. You'd see 'em bring their little bags to the laundry room, and the girls. That wasn't my thing, because I did not like to work in the laundry. I liked to work in the kitchen part. In fact, I had two good friends that were sisters that boarded across the hall from me in the dormitory. They did my laundry. 32:00[laughter] They would talk real loud because the way those walls was made, there was about that much space above that was open and you could hear people talkin'. And I'd hear them say, oh we got to go to the laundry, and they'd talk real loud, you know who, we got to get you know who's clothes [laughter]. Then they would talk about it and say, I don't know what that lazy thing would do if it wasn't for us. That kind of stuff. [laughter] But, they were my good friends, they were just so sweet. You have to, when you out like that, away from home, make a home away from home. You found out early in life that you better try and 33:00make the best of it. Because I've seen some of them being mistreated so badly because they had come in there with a attitude. They thought everybody owed them something. Nobody owe nobody nothing. Just go on and be sweet and nice.

Tyler: Was that typical, for somebody to come in with an attitude or was that pretty rare?

Esther: Not too, but some of them was- they just didn't make friends real well because they had an attitude. Well, some of them thought they were better than and nobody's no better. Everybody's on the same equal when you're there. And act like somebody owe you something.

Tyler: Was there a difference between students that were transported from home or the ones that boarded there?

Esther: Oh, yeah.

Tyler: Did they have different attitudes?

Esther: Oh yes, there was a rivalry there because the boys, they had more 34:00privilege than the girls. They could leave the campus if they--if somebody was having a party, they would invite the boys. The boys could leave the campus, but the girls, we couldn't leave the campus like that. They did, you know. So, that kind of peeved us all. We'd tell the boys, Murphy, if you go to that party, I'm through with ya. I ain't gone talk to ya no more. But, anyway, it's all--I reckon it was just different.

Tyler: So, it seemed like the boarding experience was a really good one. Do you feel like your children may have missed out on that opportunity? Do you think they missed something from not boarding?

Esther: I think they did in the long run. Some of 'em even admit it, they wished 35:00they had boarded. Well, I was at a meeting at the RSVP [Retired and Senior Volunteer Program] not too long ago and we was putting together all this stuff from the schools and all and this woman there told me--I think she said was from Floyd or somewhere and she said how they envied the children at CI because it was an industrial school. Christiansburg Industrial Institute. See, the girls, they took typing and you're taking all kind of trades by being an industrial school. It was a trade school. They would leave there and get a job as a 36:00secretary because they taught a trade school. Boys, they would shop, they were carpenters and different things. Then, of course, the agriculture. One time, they was having a--they used to judge livestock, these colleges would, and they competed with VPI [Virginia Polytechnic Institute] and CI got the blue ribbon because they judged the cattle. Now, I don't know how it's done so don't ask me. But they was so happy they brought that big blue ribbon back, that they beat Tech out judging cattle. See, because being a trade school, that did make a big difference there and they did kind of envy that. Because some of the girls that 37:00left CI, they went straight to Washington and got jobs as secretaries and everything else.

Tyler: Did you have any friends that did anything like that, took their skills and went to college or anything like that? Or did most people just get married after? Of your friends.

Esther: [laughter] Well, not too much. As I said, they left and went on and made a career. I had a cousin, a good friend that died here last month, and she went on and went to Washington to work and she died as a colonel in the army. You know, she was a big thing. She ended up working there at the White House. When the Clintons were there, I think, she would send me pictures and all, things from the White House. They had a big military funeral for her. They had buried 38:00her there in Arlington. A lot of people that just went on with their skill and made something out of it.

Tyler: So, it definitely set people up for success at CI. It seems like there's a very strong pride that goes along with going to CI. It seems like it really prepared people for their future.

Esther: Yes, it did. They'd come right out of there, could get a job as a secretary 'cause you taught that right there. And also, the boys with the barber shop. This guy, Charles Johnson, that has his barber shop there in Blacksburg. I don't know whether you've come into contact with Sonny or not. Have you?


Tyler: Another student in our class interviewed him.

Esther: Now he'd taken barbering there. When he left there, he was a barber down at one of those big marine bases. And he still got barber shop there in Blacksburg, right there. And that was his trade, they taught beauticians and clerical work and also, whatever trade you wanted to do, you had a privilege. Sometimes you regret you didn't go on with it but everybody had to live their own life, whatever they do.

Tyler: Did your husband go to CI? Or how did you meet your husband?

Esther: No, he was just an area boy here in Wake Forest. Just finished elementary and went to work in, I think, in the coal field. My husband, he 40:00worked at the mines also. He was a miner. Then when the arsenal came in, making all this powder and stuff, when the mines would close down, maybe during the summer, they would go work at the arsenal because during the summer, sometimes the coal--there wasn't a big demand for coal then. So, most of them did that. They worked in the coal fields. When they weren't in the coal fields they was at the arsenal. That was the two big job things in this area at that time.

Tyler: So you just knew your husband from living in the community. How did you guys start dating? How did that get set up?


Esther: [laughter]

Tyler: Were your parents friends and they kind of-?

Eshter: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. My mother and my husband's mother, they kinda grew up together. Her name is Addie, my husband's mother, and she was a little older than my mother, so I think they kinda came along as playmates. They didn't have no idea that, and I didn't either, that nothing like that--they knew each other real well. As I said, everybody, they had they connections. If it wasn't with the mines or wherever they worked, they were together, and then we worshipped together. It was all just a big community of people. Of course I had a boyfriend 42:00at school then [laughter]. He was a cute little fella, but I don't know what happened. We fell out and the principal of the school, he wanted to come over into Wake Forest, right down here on this ledge up through there. It had the prettiest little cedars. He built a new home over there and he wanted to come over here and get some shrubbery in order to sit around his house. And he had to come in and ask the matron, my matron, Ms. Long, could I, I mean he could come tell her he wanted to bring me to show him where to come. Of course, she ain't 43:00gonna tell the principal no and so she said yes. So when he came to pick me up, he drove up there to pick me up, my boyfriend was sitting in the back seat. The principal driving along said, now I don't know what happened to you all, but I think it's a good time for y'all to try to make up. [laughter] That tickled me so much. He was bringing him to help him to dig the shrubbery. So, he thought he would just try to get us back together. I thought that was right cute. But, anyway. Yes, we had plenty of rivalries. That was a good rivalry. Some bad rivalries because there was a difference, quite a difference, when you were 44:00boarding and when you commuting. But it's good both ways. But, I boarded all the time. I was a boarding student.

Tyler: When you were boarding at CI, did they have any big events, any holiday meals or anything like that then, or something that you guys looked forward to?

Esther: Well, I tell you when the holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas and all, people were gone. But, we would have nice socials. We would have sort of a "party" party in the dining hall. Not very often because we had our other times. They tried to keep it as much of a family--like a home away from home, in other words.


Tyler: So what types of things would you guys do for fun, after you were done your work and things like that? Would you play games?

Esther: Yes, we'd play games. We'd play Whist, cards, and dominos and all that kind of ya know. If you were interested in Chinese checkers, we had all of that stuff in what we call our parlor. It was a big room. We had games and everything. Then, of course, we had our own choir and we had rehearsals. We had day plays. We kept busy, was no slack of anything.


Tyler: Did you participate in the plays or in the choir or anything like that?

Esther: Oh, I was damn near in everything. [laughter] I was in the choir. I remember we had a play and I had to lead in the play. Well, I didn't know if my mother could come there or if any of my people would be able to come when we gave the play. That evening, about time for the play to start, here come my mother and my grandmother and the man that I married, he brought 'em. He had a car and he brought 'em over there. I don't think I wasn't talkin' to him then. I don't think I was. But, oh, that made me so happy. I say, I put on a show. Because they was comin' there you know- I was feeling so sad that they weren't going to be able to come, none of my people. So we had a lot of nice plays and 47:00things. It was a lot of fun. It was down times and up times, but most times was good times.

Tyler: Are they any down times that you can remember that you were homesick or there were people that you didn't get along with and anything like that?

Ester: You know, in a place like that, you always run into something. Sometimes, ya know. But, I always had good friends on my side. But it was nice that you even had the opportunity, when you think about it. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to high school at all. If it wasn't for the boarding, to have that privilege. I was tellin' you about this girl, this woman was tellin' me--no 48:00girl, a woman--from Floyd, when they came down for the Christmas parade, she said that she envied so Christiansburg. They had a band you wouldn't believe. They had uniforms you wouldn't believe. She said that, when that band come through there, they had this guy, the conductor, he was a professional. He had that band on the ball and she said, I was so embarrassed, here we come without no uniforms or nothing and of all things, they put us right behind 'em. She was talkin' about how good it was and how they envied that they weren't involved in 49:00the boarding school over there where they had that, all that. They had top notch teachers there, they were really good, and whatever they was good at, they were good. Wasn't no foolishness, you know. They were nice, but you had to do what you had to do. So on the whole, when I look back over my life and think about everything, I had a lot of precious memories from homelife back in the mountain. We didn't have neighbors, we didn't have real clothes but all of our neighbors were, as I said, white. We just didn't--I grew up, I never did think no difference. I just did not. Because, it wasn't. We had a small family but we 50:00always canned and put up a lot of stuff. My daddy, he had all kinds of fruit trees. He had six apple trees and none of 'em were the same. You know, different fruits and peaches and plums and cherries and everything. We always put up a lot of food. Families that lived 'round close to us back in the mountains and surroundings, they had big families and by January they started running out of food. So then, we had food to give 'em. They would come down and that was a [inaudible 50:43] the only thing that my mother wanted was her jars back, because you canned everything in glass jars then. But, we always had plenty. If anybody come and it was only daddy, go to the smokehouse with his knife to cut 'em off a hunk of meat because he raised hogs and all. And mama would go to the cellar and bring out the canned stuff, you know? So I thought that was, well, 51:00that was a way of life then. You shared what you had with other people. Don't let anybody come there and say they had been hungry. We have had people come say we haven't had no food and my daddy, if he get through, let you know, he said, don't you ever wait 'til you out. Always come, and we always helped people. I had a good life at home like that, because I enjoyed helping people. Still do, and I think it's a blessing.


Tyler: Absolutely.

Esther: It is.

Tyler: So it seems like your parents really liked to help people and that kind of has influenced your life.

Esther: Oh yes, I was brought up sharing.

Tyler: Do you feel like that helped you at CI making friends and things like that?

Esther: Oh, I think so. I'm sure it did. I'm sure that all of that helped because that's what life is all about when you stop and think about it. Now, everybody is just about on the same--every now and then, somebody, you can help--but everybody is about on the same level. But, it's good to share whatever you have. Whether it's material, spiritually, whatever it is. You just let people know. The main thing to let them know is there's a God somewhere. There's 53:00a God up there and he watches over you and takes care of you. I pray to him every day, for people and for myself and my family and everybody because sooner or later we have to answer that call regardless of who we are or what we are doing. That's a part of our life. Everything is not material. It's spiritual, too.

Tyler: When you were at CI, what was the opportunity to go to church? Were there multiple churches you could go to or did you all go to one chapel?

Esther: Well, we had a chapel service there during the week. We had our 54:00Wednesday night prayer meetings just like at church. They had chapel during the day. But, on Sunday, we would go to different churches over in Christiansburg, Schaeffer, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Holiness- we would rotate Sundays and that's when the girls all, you got on your church clothes. You got lined up, two, two, two, two, two. Two senior girls in front of the line, two senior girls in the back of it. We had to have our gloves, and our pocketbooks, and we had to be dressed just right. We'd leave the campus and we'd walk over into the town to 55:00church. Same formation, we'd come back. Then we get back and the den would be ready and everything. The cooks would stay and do the food and all. Of course, that was rotated. If things rotated your way, you might not have the privilege of going. But anyway, that was our routine for service, plus we had Sunday school there on the campus in the chapel. Sunday morning we'd have our Sunday school there. So, we had activities and maybe during the spring when the weather got a little warm, on Sunday after we have a--well, after we have dinner you had a quiet hour. You had to go to your room for quiet hour. When quiet hour was 56:00over, they may announce they were having a social on campus. The boys would come over and the girls, you talk and you couple off and kind of that. Bleed-knee Marcy, that's what we called our Matron, Ms. Long, she was sitting on the porch. She and the principal both. They were sitting and they'd watch. You didn't get out of their sight, but it was nice. After all, when kids are away from home like that you have to have to have some kind of good personal where you just [inaudible 00:56:42] turn you loose. People didn't worry about you when you was at CI, I'm telling you that much. And, if you didn't do right, if something happened, and you wasn't gonna act right, they didn't mind callin' your parents and tellin' 'em to come get 'em. They gave you a chance. Thank goodness mine 57:00didn't come get me. [laughter] I mean it was a life. It was so interesting, just things you're not gonna forget. Any way you look at it, you're just not going to forget it.

Tyler: When your children went to CI, did you remember any of their experiences? You must have been proud of them and their opportunity to go to CI. Do you remember them coming home with any different stories that were vastly different 58:00from your own experience? Or, at that point, were things different for them than they were for you in any aspect?

Esther: Are you speaking of boarding versus commuter? You know they come in with day students and boarding students.

Tyler: You know, the CI experience, did they enjoy it as much as you did? Did they-

Esther: Well, I hope they did. Some of them didn't. Just like everything else, some of them didn't like being away from home and all that. But, the majority of them, when we got there we just kind of connected as a family. Sometimes they tell about their experiences at their former school and home and all. We had a lot of things to talk about but the main thing was you were there to get your 59:00education. You had to buckle down and make good, and they didn't mind making you go study extra hours if you fell behind on some of your subjects and all. On the whole, I can just say that it was just an experience that I will never forget. I didn't know anything through my high school other than being in a boarding school. Probably didn't have all of the activities and things, but we had enough. We had a good football team. I mean they were good. Out there in that open field, there were no seats, no bleachers, nothing like that. You'd just 60:00stand out there and cheer them on. Of course they had a real good team. 'Course, when my children were going, of course the school was consolidated then and they had to bus and everything like that. I have driven, since my daughter was the captain of the cheerleaders. My son was co-captain of the football team. So the football team would go on the bus and the bus would carry the boys. But somebody had to take the cheerleaders so that was my job. One time they was playin' in Lexington and you know where Lexington is? How far that is from Christiansburg? Well, the bus left and I left but when I got to natural bridge, I hadn't been to 61:00there before so I stopped there and I had taken a little tour. That was my first time at Natural Bridge because I had never seen it. When I got to Lexington, they was all ready to come back, lookin' where in the world? [laughter] But you know, that's--we enjoyed following the team, wherever they went to play and all. It was really good. I almost got the team penalized. One of the guys, he was one of the parents there, he had a son playing a football, too. I saw my son get this ball and start down the field. I went out. I wanted to see and I stepped 62:00over the line. He said, you're gonna penalize the team! I said, for what? He said, you ain't supposed to step over that line. But anyway, it was fun. When you were real close to your children. A child loves to do his best if the parents there. I used to feel sorry for some of the children, the parents never was able to come to see them in anything. But I was close enough, even with my children, where I could. I used to do a lot of dinner parties for people, If there was something going on at CI that evening that the children was involved in, I would let them know before I even attempt to do it. Now, I'm gonna leave early because I ain't going to miss and they understood that. Sometimes, I'd 63:00leave the dishes. I'd leave everything. I'm gone. They in plays and they had a lot of plays and programs at school, when your children involved, it encourages them for the parent to be there. So, it was nice. I enjoyed when I was there, my time. Then, I enjoyed being there for my children.

Tyler: What year did your children graduate, what years?

Esther: Jean, [19]61 and Arnold in [19]62. She went to Bennett in North Carolina. She went to college down there three years then she got out of college and got married. I told you about my son. I told you before that he graduated on a Friday and had to go to work Monday morning because they had hired him at 64:00Poly-Scientific and they were the ones that sent him to school to the vo-tech [vocational-technical school] in Radford. That's where he was selected engineer.

Tyler: So both of them seem like they were pretty successful after going to school. It definitely prepared them for their future.

Esther: Yes, and Jean, she ended up being a secretary or something for the government. She lived up in the Maryland and Washington area.

Tyler: And she moved back here?

Esther: Um-hm. Yeah, that's her house right up there. You see that house right up there? And then, if you drive out that road, a big white house out there is my son. He and his wife, they just retired, both of them, so they left on a little trip this morning. He called me yesterday, last night, telling me they'll 65:00be gone for a couple days. So they both retired and live near. You see that generator out there on the car port? It's just out there if he's not here and the lights go out. I don't know a thing about that thing. But it's good to have a backup.

Tyler: Now you mentioned that you did bookkeeping in the mines. Was that typical that women would work in the mine?

Esther: Yes, it was. I wasn't per se in the mines. I just did the work here at home. But, yes it was. I don't think I ever heard of any woman doing anything. I 66:00never heard of it. When it branched off from the big mines, when it closed down, this was the smaller mine. We had about twenty, twenty-one people. And, so, I just did it.

Tyler: Now, how old were you when you were doing the bookkeeping? Do you know the years roughly or how old you were?

Esther: Unh-uh. No need in me saying it. My children were in high school then. I had to do some figuring. [laughter]

Tyler: I think I'm out of questions right now. Is there anything else about Wake Forest or any experiences?


Esther: No, I can't think of anything. Probably after you leave something will come to my mind. That's usually the way it happens, ya know? But, I know I love it out here. 'Cause, that's where I've lived all my life, just out here. I wouldn't take nothin' out. I've traveled, I've been a lot of places. I've been to Israel, all in that part of the country, down in the Bahamas and Hawaii. I like to travel. I did. But every time when I got back here, I would bow down and kiss the ground. [laughter] I just love here where I live.


Tyler: Now is this a family house? I remember you saying it was just these two rooms. Did your parents or grandparents live in this area? Or-

Esther: Well, my husband's parents live right down there, this old house you can--look down there. That was where my husband's parents live. Of course, I told you my parents lived up in the mountain. When we built these two rooms, because I didn't have no children or nothin', just my husband and I. My father, he walked down here, out of the mountain, about a mile and a half, he came down. When they brought my furniture, they brought my bedroom suit, kitchen stuff. They put down the linoleum, that's what it was then. My daddy left and walked 69:00about a mile back up there where we lived and here he come back with his hammer and his nail, and some pictures. Come down and hang some pictures in my room. My mother was, she was working that day. When she came home, she come in the house and say she come and looked around and she say, Eddie, where is my pictures? He say, well, you know, Queen's moved in her new house. She didn't have no pictures. I just come in, taking some of the pictures off the wall. Her pictures. Brought 'em down here and hung them in my house. I thought that was 70:00real cute, so I'd have a picture.

Tyler: Did you say he called you Queen?

Esther: Um-hm, that's what everybody call me, Queen.

Tyler: How did they get that nickname?

Esther: Well, I was the first girl and my grandfather, my mother's father, he came out and time come to make the big announcement, said, we finally got a queen in the family. That's the way that I think of it. If you read in this here book here, most everybody called me queen. That was my nickname and then I think I was about two weeks old or a month old before they decided what to name me. It was Queenie, so they named me Esther, so that's how I got Queen Esther. My name 71:00is Esther Gertrude Jones. So, that's how the Queen come up out. 'Cause I was at the Golden Year yesterday, this Jew couple--well, he's a Jew anyway--say every years ago when my husband was livin' and all, they moved in this community. They were hippies. They came up from New York and they went to Florida, just hippies. So, they came in this community. And of course they live now, they bought land from my aunt. They live back over there now. They built a nice home and all. He was talking about it yesterday at the Golden Year club. Somebody asked him, how did you get in this area? He told him about he got in this area and my first neighbor was Queen. [laughter] Now they are established, they live here, and 72:00they work pretty hard and everything. They just keep me supplied with greens, beans, tomatoes, and everything. But people just come in here and settle down like that and just love it. So, that's how my name--why people call me Queen. So, it's just a good life. I love it. You know, it would be sad if everybody 73:00liked the same thing, wouldn't it?

Tyler: Um-hm.

Esther: [laughter] Or the same place. To make it nice, you like what you like and you like what you like. People tell me, I wouldn't live back there. I say, well, you don't live back here. I'm the one that live back here. I'm happy and I'm content, because I don't need all this house and all this stuff. But that's what has accumulated over the years. All of those dishes up there like that, the top one, right up there with the top on it, on the top shelf of the china closet. You can't see where you sittin'. A lot of those things, when Dr. Hahn would travel and he liked antique stuff, I got old beautiful platters and those 74:00covered dishes. He'd always bring me things back when he'd go on those trips. Well, they went to England and bought up all of this antique stuff. When they shipped it in, it was a van. I mean one of those big vans brought it there to the house. You never saw such a beautiful thing of dishes and things and he gave me several pieces of it. So, as I say, somebody is gonna have a hay day around here.

Tyler: I think we covered just about everything. Is there anything else you thought I was going to ask you?


Esther: No, I had no idea what you were going to ask me.

Tyler: Is there anything you want me to ask you about that I haven't touched on yet? [laughter]

Esther: [laughter] I guess I just about covered it. I'll probably come up with something when you leave. Not right now.

Tyler: I guess we can end it here then. Thank you for your time.

Esther: Um-hm.