0:00 - Introduction
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: Today is February 26, 1991. I’m conducting an interview with Mr. Frank Bannister of Blacksburg, Virginia. Mr. Bannister, could you give us a brief biographical sketch of your life? Your birthdate, birthplace, education, and occupation?
Frank Bannister: Well, I was born in Wake Forest, Virginia.
Keywords: Frank Bannister; Wake Forest, Virginia
Subjects: Blacksburg; Wake Forest, Virginia
0:23 - Primary Education in Wake Forest, Virginia
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: I went to school there, grade school, in a one-room school sitting beside the road. We had a ball game in the highway. [Laughs]. The highway, or the road, came right by the school, and we played ball in the highway.
Michael Cooke :How many teachers taught at that school?
Frank Bannister: Oh, just one at a time.
Michael Cooke: Just one? Do you remember any of the teachers?
Frank Bannister: Yeah, I remember one. She was Rebecca Forks.
Michael Cooke: Rebecca Forks?
Frank Bannister: Rebecca Forrest, and she was from Roanoke, Virginia. Awful good teacher.
Keywords: Montgomery County, Virginia; primary education; Wake Forest, Virginia
Subjects: one room school; Wake Forest
5:25 - Busing and Boarding at Christiansburg Institute
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: Few years and then they were put on a bus [5:32]. Some of them folks used to go to Christiansburg and board over there. They wouldn’t ride the bus. [5:42]
Michael Cooke: How expensive was the board? I mean, I heard people talk about, you could board, but I mean, how much did they generally charge for the board?
Frank Bannister: I never did know. I was never there.
Michael Cooke: You never had inquired. You just simply had to commute by bus.
Keywords: bus; Christiansburg Industrial Institute; Christiansburg Institute
Subjects: boarding; bussing; expense
7:36 - Founding of Christiansburg Institute
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: The Quakers come here for religious, for education--it hadn’t been long since we was freed--and the Quakers from Pennsylvania come here, started a school, a high school they built there. And then old white fellow, Captain Schaeffer had an old horse and buggy, he used to go around the vicinities and-
Keywords: Captain Shaeffer; The Quakers
Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; education
16:58 - Hill School In Christiansburg, Virginia
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: Was that called the Hill School? I mean, that building that the NAACP is using. Was that the Hill School?
Frank Bannister: Yeah.
Michael Cooke: In fact, that’s where people went before they went to Christiansburg Institute.
Frank Bannister: Yeah.
Michael Cooke: So up until I guess up until grades one through six, they would go to Hill School in the Christiansburg area I guess.
Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Hill School; NAACP
Subjects: Christiansburg; Hill School; Primary Education
22:16 - Kentland Plantation and Family Ties
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: Yeah, that’s Kent’s old smokehouse.
Michael Cooke: Oh, I see.
Frank Bannister: There used to be a concrete walkway to the smokehouse up there to the main house. [22:33]. It was sitting out from the main house.
Michael Cooke: Is the structure still standing?
Frank Bannister: Yeah. My mother, her mother, was a cook and had a fireplace in that old kitchen.
Keywords: Kentland Farms; Kentland Plantation; smokehouse
Subjects: Kentland Plantation; Montgomery County; tenant farmer
29:08 - Kent Family Descendants
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: Kent’s had five daughters [inaudible 28:46]. Kents around everyday. He either [inaudible 28:50-28:56].
Michael Cooke: And there’s Elizabeth Kent who didn’t marry, right?
Frank Bannister: Huh?
Michael Cooke: Wasn’t there an Elizabeth Kent who never married?
Keywords: Elizabeth Kent; Kent family; Kentland farms
Subjects: Kent decedents; Kentland Plantation; Montgomery County
33:52 - Work Opportunities for Black Appalachians - Farming, Mining, and Railroad
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: What kind of work did those people do? I mean, you said some of them didn’t own the land, but they must have been employed somewhere. What did they do to make a living?
Frank Bannister: Well, some of them work down on the farm.
Keywords: Big Vein; coal mines; farming; Great Valley; Whitethorne
Subjects: coal mining; farming; job opportunities; railroad; Wake Forest
39:00 - Coal Mine Pay and Work
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: And you got paid on an equal basis for work? Or did they get paid more?
Frank Bannister: No, it was an equal set of checks. When you load that car, you put that check on it.
Keywords: equal pay; loading coal cars; supervisors
Subjects: Big Vein; coal mines; Great Valley; Montgomery, county; pay
43:36 - Bannister Working as a Fire Boss
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: I was one of the fire bosses at Big Vein.
Michael Cooke: So, what was your job as the fire boss?
Frank Bannister: Well, you test the place out to see if there was any gas
Keywords: Big Vein; coal mine; fire boss; gas
Subjects: Coal Mine; explosions; Montgomery County
60:16 - Bannister's Sons' and Daughter's Education
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: In what fields did they get their doctorates in?
Frank Bannister: I told you [inaudible 1:00:10] they were in industrial law [1:00:18]
Michael Cooke: Oh, industrial laws.
Keywords: industrial law; L. C. Bannister; Richmond; trade school; Tuskegee
Subjects: Bannister family; Secondary Education
65:48 - Teachers at Christiansburg Institute
67:26 - Lack of Job Opportunities and Radford Arsenal
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: Then the powder plant come along.
Michael Cooke: Oh, yeah. The Radford Arsenal.
Frank Bannister Yeah. And they could make pretty good money
Keywords: powder plant; Radford Arsenal; Second World War; World War 2; World War II; WWII
Subjects: job opportunities; money; Radford Arsenal
69:34 - Social Life in the Community
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: Let me ask something else, what was social life? What did you have to do? I mean you didn’t just simply work all the time? What was church life like? Did y'all have organizations? Did you belong to the Odd Fellows or the Household of Ruth or the Independent Order of St. Luke? What did y’all do besides work in Wake Forest?
Frank Bannister: [Inaudible 1:09:56]. I joined when I was seeking out to be a miner. I joined the Ruths.
Keywords: church life; Household of Ruth; Independent Order of St. Luke; Odd Fellows; social life; Wake Forest
Subjects: church; fraternal life; Independent Order of St. Luke (Blacksburg, Va.); Montgomery County; religious communities; social life; Wake Forest
76:13 - Social Life and Businesses
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: Because I know it must have been kind of restricted social life because whites didn’t socialize with Blacks that much, probably. You couldn’t probably go to the theater that much. So was that-
Frank Bannister: Yes we did.
Michael Cooke: You did? Did y’all go to The Lyric [Theater]?
Keywords: Aubrey Mills; Burrell Morgan; restaurants; social life; The Lyric
Subjects: Black Businesses; Blacksburg; Christiansburg; social life
79:22 - Bannister's Family Grocery Store and Ice Cream Parlor
Partial Transcript: Frank Bannister: I had a grocery store.
Michael Cooke: Oh you had it? So you didn’t have to go any farther? So you didn’t have to go to let’s say, I don’t know if Wade’s had been in business that long, but you didn’t have to come all the way to Blacksburg to get something? Did you sell meats and stuff of that nature?
Frank Bannister: Yeah.
Keywords: grocery store
Subjects: Black business; grocery store; Montgomery County
83:28 - Difficulties with Acquiring Loans
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: When you wanted to get some credit, did you find it was easy to get credit from the banks and savings and loans? Or did you go to the Odd Fellows to get loans?
Frank Bannister: [inaudible 1:23:45]
Michael Cooke: Well, if you wanted to get insurance or get a loan did you go to the banks?
Frank Bannister: Always had [inaudible 1:23:53]. Never no trouble for me to get any amount of money I wanted.
Keywords: banks; Christiansburg; insurance; loans; Odd Fellows
Subjects: loans; money; Montgomery County
94:30 - Virginia Tech Black Employment and Integration
Partial Transcript: Michael Cooke: Were Blacks working at the college? Did Blacks work in the college very much?
Frank Bannister: Yeah. [inaudible 1:34:30]
Michael Cooke: Which was what?
Keywords: custodian; desegregation; jobs; President Marshall Hahn
Subjects: Black employment; President Marshall Hahn; Virginia Tech
103:30 - Conclusion
Michael Cooke: Today is February 26, 1991. I'm conducting an interview with Mr.Frank Bannister of Blacksburg, Virginia. Mr. Bannister, could you give us a 1:00brief biographical sketch of your life? Your birthdate, birthplace, education, and occupation?
Frank Bannister: Well, I was born in Wake Forest, Virginia. I went to schoolthere, grade school, in a one-room school sitting beside the road. We had a ball game in the highway. [Laughs]. The highway, or the road, came right by the school, and we played ball in the highway.
C: How many teachers taught at that school?
B: Oh, just one at a time.
C: Just one? Do you remember any of the teachers?
B: Yeah, I remember one. She was Rebecca Forks.
C: Rebecca Forks?
B: Rebecca Forrest, and she was from Roanoke, Virginia. Awful good teacher.
C: Did she commute back and forth from Roanoke?
C: Oh, she lived in the area?
B: Back in that day, school teachers didn't leave the community.
C: Was she married or single?
B: No, she was single. She had to get a [inaudible 1:30]. Stay there all year.Confined to the school house.
C: And how many people generally went to that--you said, it was a one room school?
C: How many people were, as best you can recall, were in that one school room?
B: Twenty-five or thirty?
C: Twenty-five or thirty. And it simply served the community of Wake Forest?
C: Let me ask you another question, did they have a school in McCoy? Because I2:00know some Blacks lived in McCoy.
B: [inaudible 02:29]. All the Blacks from Wake Forest went to the school thatthey went to. And now you take high school and [inaudible 02:40] and a Black family lived there and they were too far from Blacksburg to go to school. [inaudible 02:50]. They wouldn't let them go to white school. They grew up to be men and women that never knew their ABCs. It sounds pitiful. 3:00
C: It does.
B: It forced integration. Their daddy cut them off going to the mountain[03:15]. The mine he worked for was in Wake Forest [03:25]. Now, he had eight or ten children, and none of them had gone to school a day in their life. They didn't know A from B. [03:37].
C: That's really bad.
B: We had some in Wake Forest. They had the opportunity to go to Blacksburg togo to school [03:45].
C: At least they had the opportunity. Although could you compare educationalopportunities as equal with whites? I mean, when you looked at the white public 4:00school and looked at your own one room school, was that on the same level or?
B: Same level. In McCoy, they had two rooms, but it was on the same level. Theyhad two teachers.
C: So, more Blacks lived in McCoy than in Wake Forest?
C: They just, for whatever reason, they built--Were these schools operated bythe state or the local government?
B: I don't know. I couldn't tell you this.
C: But there was some educational opportunities?
C: Okay. Now you mentioned that you had sons and a daughter, didn't you?
C: Were they born and raised in the Wake Forest area or were they born andraised in the Blacksburg area?
B: No, they were born and raised in Wake Forest.
C: Oh, they were?
B: And an old school bus happened years later. When integration come around,they rode their own school bus, and they would be gone from about seven o'clock 5:00to five in the afternoon at Christiansburg High School. They had a high school in Christiansburg.
C: The Christiansburg Institute? The Black school there?
C: Where did they go before they went to high school there?
B: Well, they went to that little country school-
C: So the same school you went to?
B: Yeah. Few years and then they were put on a bus [5:32]. Some of them folksused to go to Christiansburg and board over there. They wouldn't ride the bus. [5:42]
C: How expensive was the board? I mean, I heard people talk about, you couldboard, but I mean, how much did they generally charge for the board?
B: I never did know. I was never there.
C: You never had inquired. You just simply had to commute by bus. And I6:00understand that this is the only high school in the area.
B: Yeah, it was.
C: To the best of your knowledge, where was the nearest one, like ChristiansburgInstitute or similar to it?
B: [inaudible 6:16]
C: You couldn't recall-
B: Pulaski, Christiansburg, Radford, all the Blacks right here in this area.
C: What about Floyd?
B: No, they had [inaudible 6:37].
C: But all the other areas attended the--why did they come? Because there was nopublic high school for Blacks?
B: No public high school for Blacks.
C: How did people justify that lack of opportunities? Did you find people think7:00like a public school education is enough? How did whites justify that kind?
B: Whites in the area [inaudible 7:09-7:20] Folks will take you out of school towork. [inaudible 7:24] Why would a high school in Christiansburg--The Quakers come here for religious, for education--it hadn't been long since we was freed--and the Quakers from Pennsylvania come here, started a school, a high school they built there. And then old white fellow, Captain Schaeffer had an old horse and buggy, he used to go around the vicinities and-
C: Do you remember him?
C: Oh, you do remember?
B: Yeah, I'm eighty-nine years old. [inaudible 8:16] mighty good to me and keptme here a long time. Can't say nothing about him except [inaudible 8:26]. If there was any chance in getting justice for [inaudible 8:40-8:45]
C: So the Christiansburg Institute was founded by John Schaeffer?
B: Captain John Schaeffer. And when he died, they sent a Black man to carry on9:00his work. He preached around. He was C. H. Smith. I remember him just the way-- was sitting right there now, and that was one of the best men I think I'd ever seen.
C: Do you know where he came from?
B: He came from Pennsylvania [inaudible 9:39] educated in the same school. He10:00had four little churches
C: Oh, so he was a minister?
B: Yeah. One of them.
C: What churches did he have?
B: [inaudible 10:10] Baptist church.
C: What about St. Paul AME? Wasn't that around? Yeah, that was around.
B: They were around but they weren't wide open like the Baptist church.
C: It was a number of the people huh? Yeah, the Baptist church which was on-whatstreet is it?
B: Clay Street-
C: Clay Street, right.
B: Well then on down home, when I was a child [inaudible 10:45-10:51] you wouldcome in every Saturday and preach with us on Sunday. We'd meet him at the train station where [inaudible 11:04-11:13].
C: Did he commute from somewhere? Or was he here all the time or was he commuting?
B: No, he's from Christiansburg. That's where he came from.11:00
C: Oh, I see. So, he lived--he wasn't commuting, but you said, sometimes he cameand y'all-
B: No, I didn't say that now.
B: I said that he would come over on Saturday, spend the night, and then Sundaymorning, he would in the summertime, have a box of peppermint stick candy. I remember this well as if it was yesterday. And then in winter time, he would bring that same kind of box of hard candy. And he would start out on the back side of that community.
C: Which community?
B: Wake Forest.
B: And every child that he'd seen on the road or stop at his home, pick 'em up12:00and make 'em come to Sunday school. And he would burn, one of the best I'd ever seen. He was [inaudible 12:22-12:36]. In Sunday school, the first song that I ever learned was in that Sunday school. And we had a little choir. You could 13:00sing in that choir every Sunday. Well let's recite a hymn, "Leaning on Jesus." He wouldn't let you sing if you didn't know that hymn by heart. Recite it like you were in recitation. Then you could sing [inaudible 13:15]. Put that down Frank and I'll let you be in the choir. I often think today how much paycheck [inaudible 13:34] and they would learn and you learned, too. I had a first cousin. Her name was Annie. We lived together and I didn't know that she wasn't my sister for years and years. I imagine I'd hear him say, hello there Frankie 14:00boy, how you this morning? [bell ringing in background] Here's my darling little Annie. And take her in his arms. He loved Annie. He loved children.
C: Was he married himself?
B: Yeah, he was married.
C: Had several kids?
B: Um-hm. Yeah he did. I never seen but two of them.
C: You said that he had several churches. What other places did he minister?
B: Here one Sunday. Blacksburg one Sunday. Down near Eggleston-
C: Near Eggleston?
C: So he'd go all the way over to Giles County?
C: Oh wow, okay.
B: He had four churches. And he went to a church every Sunday to preach.
C: You remember the last one? You said Eggleston, Blacksburg, and Wake Forest.Was there one other community?
B: Yeah, Christiansburg.15:00
C: And Christiansburg.
B: Of course [inaudible 15:13-15:16]
C: You remember which churches he was a minister at? In Blacksburg andChristiansburg and-
B: Saint [inaudible 15:21].
C: Baptist Church? So did he minster at Schaeffer?
B: Yeah, he was sent to Schaeffer.
C: Okay, so Schaeffer and then the First Baptist on Clay Street in Blacksburg.I'm not familiar with the Eggleston Black church.
B: Me either. There's a Black church up on the side of the hill there. He didn'thave many members there. And then he would preach in all those churches, for 16:00weeks preaching. He had his hands full. You know?
B: Going so many places with all them churches, but he was supposed to get allthe Blacks to come out of slavery, to religiously educate them. And that's why they get the Schaeffer Church in Christiansburg. That's where [inaudible 16:35] and that building out there. That building was a personal schoolhouse [16:43].
C: The one that they now use as the NAACP building?
B: Yeah. And I think of that church so much [inaudible 16:56].
C: Was that called the Hill School? I mean, that building that the NAACP isusing. Was that the Hill School?
C: In fact, that's where people went before they went to Christiansburg Institute.17:00
C: So up until I guess up until grades one through six, they would go to HillSchool in the Christiansburg area I guess.
B: And I would go to another [17:20] church around here. See, I would go with myfolks to [inaudible 17:33-17:41].
C: Especially in Wake Forest, I guess, there were no churches. Blacksburg therewas a church, I believe, that was already functioning. Not in Wake Forest. Could 18:00you tell us about growing up in Wake Forest? What were some of the things that went on in Wake Forest? I mean, how big a community was it? How many people lived there?
B: Forty-five families.
C: Good size.
B: Yeah. My grandfather--There's a whole lot of history behind, in Floyd. Sherman--
C: You said Shermans. Are you talking about the family or are you talking aboutOscar and Homer?
B: [inaudible 18:39]
C: You're talking about the Sherman family.19:00
B: Sherman family. One of the old slave people give two of them land down on theriver, and that was Long Shop. And it ended up a place to [inaudible 19:14-19:29].
C: What did the rest of the people do if they didn't have their own property?
B: [inaudible 19:23-19:25].
B: [inaudible 19:28-19:40] I never went to school, and I tell you why I didn'tgo. [inaudible 19:49-20:05]. We had money. We were tenant farmers [20:09]. We sharecropped. We had money.That was as much work on the farm as you would get 20:00[20:25]. Old man had these slaves up here [inaudible 20:35] property. He auctioned off [inaudible 20:46].
C: I guess compared to a sharecropper.
B: Yeah, compared to anything he'd done.
B: From him being there, and my grandmother was a cook there as a slave .21:00
C: Was that the Kent family?
C: Did the Kents give that property to the two people you mentioned?
B: No, let's see, the Kents' decedent [21:19]. Let's see--[Rustling].
C: Okay. Oh, so you got some photographs.
B: That's the only picture I could find of my mother. [inaudible 21:48]
C: Who was that chap? Was that you?22:00
B: No. Wasn't me. She worked there.
C: Oh, this is a white kid?
C: Oh, okay. I needed to look a bit better. [Laughs]. Now I see it. Now I understand.
B: That's what they called old smoke-
C: And this a--Oh? A smokehouse. This is a little bit blown up right here. Thisis a smokehouse? They-
B: Yeah, that's Kent's old smokehouse.
C: Oh, I see.
B: There used to be a concrete walkway to the smokehouse up there to the mainhouse. [22:33]. It was sitting out from the main house.
C: Is the structure still standing?
B: Yeah. My mother, her mother, was a cook and had a fireplace in that old23:00kitchen. Take a rail from a rail fence, and it was nine feet long. [inaudible 23:22] old rails. It didn't have [inaudible 23:27]. Old kindling starter that would enter the fireplace and it would be [inaudible 23:35] on each end and little pots [23:46-23:52] that the Kents would eat. 24:00
C: So your father was a tenant farmer?
B: No, I didn't say that. I said, my grandfather.
C: Oh, your grandfather. I'll get it right eventually. [Laughs]. Your grandfather.
B: I don't know nothing about the father.
B: I always regretted that. My grandaddy raised me.
C: I see.
B: My mother gave me to him [inaudible 24:06]. My grandparents raised me, andthey raised me good. [inaudible 24:20]. They spoiled me and raised me. I don't know nothing about how to raise the two boys of mine. I always thought if I had 25:00a daddy of my own...worried me my whole life. [24:48]
C: That you weren't doing the right thing or doing enough?
B: I didn't know what to do.
B: Let me ask you, you had a daddy at home. You knew why he raised you.
C: That's true.
B: Let me give you some advice. The most important thing I think of. And thankGod for the day that he was [inaudible 25:23] church. A very highly respected man to everybody. [inaudible 25:32]. Taught Sunday school-
C: Which son is this? You didn't name him.
C: You didn't name him.
C: The person you're talking about.
B: Yes, I did. I told you.
C: Your grandfather?
B: Howard Sherman.
C: Howard? Oh, yeah. Okay. So you're related to the Shermans?
B: No. Howard Sherman married a Bannister. I'm a Bannister. Now he comes fromdown in [inaudible 26:16] County and married my grandmother.
C: Oh, I see.
B: And then he got drowned down by the river.
C: Yeah was he a waterman?
C: Yeah, did he lose his arm?
B: No, he lost his whole life. He got drowned.
C: I remember reading about a waterman who had one arm. Maybe I'm thinking aboutsomebody else.
B: Thinking about [inaudible 26:37]
C: Yeah, I'm thinking about another person. Okay, so he was a waterman? What did27:00he do? In terms of his occupation? Did he fish?
B: Not at that time, no. At that time, you hauled goods by water.
C: Oh, yeah. Okay.
B: When you couldn't do it by train or buses, trucks. At one time they had horseand wagons. But at that time, they were putting it on boats. Except for North Line, the New River makes up everything [27:28].
C: Oh so he'd be on New River?
C: I see.
B: And he would come down on to [inaudible 27:35] off the line to Bluefield andthey would have a boat load. And the boat turned over down there. He got 28:00drowned. And then Howard Sherman, his wife, had died and he married my grandmother when her husband died. And that's [inaudible 28:05].
C: Let me ask one question, what occupation did Howard Sherman have?
B: I told you he worked at Kent.
C: Kent? He was a sharecropper?
B: Yeah, [inaudible 28:24].
C: What did he plant? What did he cultivate?
B: [inaudible 28:29]
C: Some, maybe, corn? Things of that nature?
B: [inaudible 28:35]. He worked dawn [inaudible 28:42]. Kent's had five29:00daughters [inaudible 28:46]. Kents around everyday. He either [inaudible 28:50-28:56].
C: And there's Elizabeth Kent who didn't marry, right?
C: Wasn't there an Elizabeth Kent who never married?
B: She called me the other night. Talked about two hours. She's in a nursinghome. [inaudible 29:19-29:28]. Kent's daughter. She's thirty, lives in [inaudible 29:37].
C: So she's still alive?30:00
B: [inaudible 29:44]
C: Let me ask you this, did any whites live in Wake Forest or was it primarily aBlack community? Or did a few whites live here, either in the community or maybe right next door?
B: Probably right next door. Never did get to tell you about my grandfather.
C: Oh, go ahead.
B: Now he bought forty-five acres of land from [inaudible 30:05-30:15].
C: Forty-five acres is a lot in Wake Forest.
B: And he kept his folks [inaudible 30:25] because you had no other land tobuild [30:35]. [inaudible 30:43] Forty-five families. He built that. 31:00
C: When did he buy all that land?
B: [inaudible 31:07] in the Spring.
C: So shortly after slavery? I guess he must have been saving up his money.
B: No. He didn't have that kind of money, but he, in the minds of everybodywhites and Blacks, respected him. And he could get money. He could get that money and [inaudible 31:37-31:48]. Some of them never did have a home. They just leased and stay there [inaudible 31:55], and you could go back there now to 32:00those places. [inaudible 32:08-32:40]. Some of those people never did have any money. [inaudible 31:47].
C: Do you remember some of the family names of people that lived in the area?
B: There was Jones and Sherman and Eaves.33:00
C: Yeah, there are plenty of Eaves down there.
B: And Smiths. Palmer. My grandmother was a Palmer. [inaudible 33:30].
C: That was the major families, I guess. Some of the bigger families, I mean.What kind of work did those people do? I mean, you said some of them didn't own the land, but they must have been employed somewhere. What did they do to make a living?
B: Well, some of them work down on the farm. [inaudible 34:17-34:29].34:00
C: Was that near McCoy or was it-
B: No. No. Whitethorne.
C: Oh, Whitethorne. So, they worked in Whitethorne.
B: And then it was up on the mountains that used to be there. Then they had thecoal mines.
C: What mines did they work in?
B: [inaudible 34:55]
C: Was it Big Vein and-
B: Big Vein or Great Valley.
C: Great Valley.
B: [inaudible 35:08] Ain't too many mines left.
C: Was there any one area that the majority of people worked or did they just35:00kind of work a lot of places, a lot of areas and types of work going on?
B: [inaudible 35:25]
C: Do you think the mines employed a lot of people, or a good number, but notthe majority.
B: They had two mines. And then they worked on the railroads.
C: Oh, they also worked on the railroads. What railroad did they work with?
B: Virginia. [long pause]. Roanoke to Bristol. They'd go all the way down to[inaudible 35:58] Valley.
C: Do you remember where some of the people worked? I mean, who were some of thepeople that worked for the railroad? Do you remember some of the people?
B: I don't remember a bunch from the railroad. [inaudible 36:20] And then they36:00had farmer at that time.
C: So your uncle, what was his name?
C: Martin. Martin Bannister?
B: Willy Martin married my aunt.
C: Oh, Willy Martin. Was he a member of the labor union or was he non-
B: No, they didn't have no union in those days.
C: There was a non union railroad?
B: All of them was non union.
C: In this area? What about people that worked in the mines, do you remembersome of the people that worked there?
B: [inaudible 36:58]
C: Oh which mine did you work at?
B: Big Vein.
C: Big Vien. What was the pay like?
B: It was pretty good.37:00
C: Do you remember some of the pay that you were getting paid today?
B: Well, you got paid for what you'd done.
C: Oh, so it was paid by how much you produce? I mean, how much was the averagepay for you when you worked at that mine?
B: Well the company men, it was called a company mine, they gave us--we gotthree dollars and twenty cents a day. That's what we got. [inaudible 38:0038:00-38:06]. Inside, you haul coal, and you got a quarter a car. That's one thing I liked about [inaudible 38:14] come back and get-
C: And get paid.
B: No, you didn't get paid but once a month.
C: Oh, once a month. How many cars could someone reasonably do in a day?
B: When I was loading, we would load four a day.
C: Oh, so that sounds like good pay for that. Was it hard work?
C: Could you do it for a long period of time? I mean, could you do it til you're39:00sixty years old, or was that something that was just too much?
B: It was something that was just too much.
C: Yeah, you couldn't do that forever. So, you couldn't retire at sixty-fivedoing that.
B: Yeah you could retire at sixty.
C: But not many people would work past sixty doing that kind of work?
C: Were there whites in the mines working with the Blacks?
B: Yeah, about half and half.
C: About half and half. And you got paid on an equal basis for work? Or did theyget paid more?
B: No, it was an equal set of checks. When you load that car, you put that checkon it. [inaudible 39:23]. And then they would come out and dump, and the dump would take you to check off. Hang it up, and you would mark it on a sheet. 40:00[inaudible 39:39]. Twenty-one, that's the number of the check, and I'd run that check for years and years, number twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five. Whatever amount they had.
C: But Black and white workers doing the same work were generally paid the same?
B: Yeah, paid the same.
C: Could Blacks get promotions and be supervisors? Did you know any Black supervisors?
B: No, we didn't have supervisors.
B: I told you everybody mine was the same [40:25]
C: Every man-
B: [inaudible 40:32] according to how hard you worked.
C: Did any Blacks work on the outside? Or were they all on the inside?
B: [inaudible 40:37] inside.
C: There were some Blacks on the outside?
C: But there were no Black supervisors?
C: Okay, that's interesting. Do you remember some of the people, besidesyourself, that were working at Big Vein?
B: All of us.
C: [Laughs] All of y'all. Do you remember some of the people?
B: Yeah. See that mine was on a slope, started off a forty-five degree anglegoing down. They would have a cable that pulled you when you go in don't fall and then you'd turn out [inaudible 41:39-41:50].
C: So it was fifty-four. About fifty people in the mines. Was it dangerous work?Did it ever collapse any time?
B: Yeah, blew up.
C: It blew up? Anybody get hurt?
B: I think [inaudible 42:03]42:00
C: Oh. Do you remember when?
C: Didn't happen while you were there working there, did it?
C: It did happen? Was it your shift or somebody else's shift that happened to?
B: That was somebody else's shift.
C: Any people who you knew who got killed there?
B: Whole lot of [inaudible 42:26]
C: Anybody from Wake Forest?
C: But it was dangerous work?
B: Dangerous work.
C: Did gas go up, or was it water problems, or maybe all of them?
B: No, gas.
C: Gas. Gas was dangerous. What about the other one? You mentioned Great Falls,did you ever work there?
B: Great Valley.
C: I'm sorry. Great Valley.
B: Yeah, I worked there.
C: For many years or just not as long as Big Vein or about the same?43:00
B: No, I only worked at Big Vein.
C: Were they operated by the same company or was it two different companies?
B: No, it was two different companies.
C: Oh, I see. Did they have the same pay scale or did they pay differently?
B: They had the same pay scale.
C: Was the work harder at Great Valley?
B: [inaudible 43:26]
C: About the same [Laughs].
B: About the same.
C: Did they have more problems with safety, you know, explosions or collapsing?
B: Well that depends on the fire boss.
C: So the fire boss is really important for their safety, right?
C: You feel better with the fire boss at Big Vein or the one in Great Valley?
B: I was one of the fire bosses at Big Vein.
C: So, what was your job as the fire boss?
B: Well, you test the place out to see if there was any gas [inaudible 44:08].44:00
C: Why would you do that?
B: I had a safety light. About [inaudible 44:22] round thing. And you had to beable to put that light together in the dark, and it had a hundred and thirty-nine pieces to it.
C: A hundred and thirty-nine pieces in the dark?
B: Yeah. And I went to school [Virginia] Tech. They'd put us in a dark room[inaudible 44:49- 44:56] And they'd test the light. [inaudible 45:00-45:03] 45:00number one.
C: Was that a state requirement?
C: So it was state law that you had to pass this test?
C: So in other words, you had to have a certificate that you were a qualifiedfire boss.
C: Was that something you had to do periodically that you know, they didn't saythat, well you passed it once. You never have to be tested again. Or did you have to be tested every once in a while?
B: You could train folks how to do it yourself and they go to the school at VPI[inaudible 45:43] They had to probably train them [inaudible 45:50].
C: Well, was being a fire boss really important? I mean, was that a promotion to46:00be that? When you were just simply a miner, then you went to a fire boss. Did you regard that as a promotion?
B: No, I regarded that as a [inaudible 46:08]
C: Oh, you made less money?
B: I made less money.
B: I was asked to be in there at four o'clock in the morning and go to maybefifty some places, test that out, and walk up if they had any gas. I had a bad place, gasy place, [inaudible 46:46]. I had to be back outside at six, and not a lot of folks worked in those places.
C: What would you do if you found a bad place? If you found a place, how would47:00you get rid of the gas?
B: [inaudible 46:55-47:01]
C: Okay, so you'd pump air into that area?
C: You wouldn't?
B: Unh-uh. You had to [inaudible 47:25] a ten by six there. Then you'd have toset another ten by six right there. Put a plank up there and put burlap on the plank. You put it like that on the isle closer to the [inaudible 47:46] And you kept the burlap, the bag [inaudible 47:54-48:00]. As soon as you get that out of there, you can come out.
C: Was something in the burlap-?
B: And I was responsible for--if I let your work in a gassy place and something48:00happened to you [static in recording]
[Break in interview]
C: Okay we're resuming the interview. You were just telling me how you woulddeal with gassy areas in the mine at Big Vein.
B: Yeah, I would have to go in there and find it. Mark it off with a board.[48:00]. Write gas on it, go in or don't go in. And I had two or three bags, and I would run in and find out how much gas I had. And I'd come out the outside and mark it on the board on the outside. Found gas in such and such room or such and such entrance [inaudible 48:35]. If I could get it out [inaudible 49:13]. If I 49:00couldn't, [inaudible 48:47]. Then I'd come outside at six. And they went to work at seven. Then I could get them in at seven o'clock. [inaudible 48:57]. I thought I couldn't do it in an hour's time. [inaudible 49:14]. And then I was responsible. Otherwise when the mine [inaudible 49:24] wide open, I come out of there at six o'clock and go on home. If I had some gassy places, I wouldn't get out of there until two. 50:00
C: In the morning?
B: No, two in the evening.
C: Two in the evening. Let me ask you, do you remember when you first became afire boss? How old were you when you became fire boss?
B: I don't know. I'd have to check.
C: You think in your thirties or forties?
C: While you were forty. When did you first go to the mines? I mean, how oldwere you when you first did some mine work?
B: Well, I go into the mine when I was eighteen. [50:50]
C: Oh, you had to be eighteen. They wouldn't let you go in until you were eighteen?
B: Unless you [inaudible 51:00]
C: A release form. Did people-
B: They encouraged you to train your boys. Wasn't nothing but native people that51:00load that coal. [inaudible 51:07]. They never could work on that and make more money. You couldn't raise them for a while. And they didn't want them [inaudible 51:48]. And then they didn't want them. They couldn't afford to pay them. [inaudible 52:02] didn't know what they were doing. And one day we were loading a car [inaudible 52:15]. And I loaded eight-ten by myself. 52:00
C: In a day?
B: In a day.
C: You just had a pick and shovel, I guess? Or just a shovel?
B: Well, we had a pick and [inaudible 52:2152:25]
C: So there's a lot of equipment you had to know.
B: And that's pretty much it [52:32]
C: Did they teach you this? Before you went in the mine, did they have kind of aschool? Like you had to learn how to be a fire boss. Did they teach you how to be a coal miner?
C: They just thought that they should know how to do that.
B: No, you just, some of the [inaudible 52:49] Now for instance, they encouragedus to raise our boys to take to the mine [inaudible 52:56]. 53:00
C: Okay, on occasion where you went with some people before you really startedgoing to the mine you got familiar with what was expected.
B: [inaudible 53:09]
C: Do you remember who helped you?
B: [inaudible 53:28]. I forgot to tell you about that. I never went to schoolaround here, and so I had to learn myself. Be taught by folks who know more than I did. And then when my time come, obviously, a good friend of mine, he died last year. I had two boys, and he had four. When we were ready to take the boys 54:00out in the mines, I take his boy and he take mine.
C: What was his name?
C: Oh yeah, I remember that name. Whitakers! That's right. There were Whitakersin Wake Forest, too, right?
B: Well, they were all white.
C: Oh, they were white.
C: Oh so you're talking about a white friend?
C: What was his first name?
C: Sidney Whitaker.
B: Only friend I had. [inaudible 54:38]. I would be satisfied for ten years.[inaudible 54:51].
B: So we learning in the rough. And then they learn, and they can teach somebody else.55:00
C: So both your sons' worked in the mines?
B: Um-hm. When they were not in school. This young preacher boy, he hated themines [55:19]
C: He hated the mines. What was his name by the way?
C: Langston. So he hated the mines? Why did he hate the mines?
B: Hard work.
C: Hard work. So he went to Christiansburg Institute right?
B: [inaudible 55:40]
C: Where did he go from there?
B: Tuskegee, Alabama.
C: Oh, so he went to Tuskegee.
B: He got a scholarship.
C: Was it an academic scholarship or athletic scholarship or maybe both?56:00
B: Tuskegee would give scholarships out to one Black boy and one Black girl.[inaudible 56:10-56:15].
C: A graduate from this area?
B: From one state.
C: Oh, from one state?
B: Yeah, from each state.
C: Oh, I see from the state of Virginia.
C: Oh so he was a real good student?
B: He was one of the best. He finished high school and stayed on honor roll forfour straight years when he was thirteen.
C: So when did he go to college?
B: He went to Tuskegee when he was thirteen years old.
C: Oh, so he went that old?
B: Yeah, he got a scholarship.
C: Did he go to college preparatory school first and then go to college?
B: No, he-
C: Just went straight to college?57:00
C: So, when he graduated he must have been really young.
B: [inaudible 57:02] finished his education when he was nineteen.
C: Good grief. What program did he undertake?
B: He was an English teacher.
C: An English teacher. So did he come back here after he finished or did he gosomewhere else?
B: No, he went into service.
C: Oh, was this during the war or one of the wars?
B: [inaudible 57:36]
C: So he went into service.
B: He went into service and went to Alaska and stayed there for a year [57:45].And then he come--Travis had a base in California. [57:52]. He trained with a 58:00pilot [inaudible 58:00-58:14].
C: Oh, so he had vision problems.
B: Um-hm. And then he married when he was lieutenant and then--or maybe secondlieutenant. And then he said he couldn't [inaudible 58:42] and any personale [inaudible 58:52] and went on welfare. [inaudible 59:00-59:13]. 59:00
C: [Laughs]. So he stayed in the military for a while?
B: He stayed there. And then transferred to Fresno base in California, and thenhe went back to Californiato--no he went to school down there [inaudible 59:48] in California. And then he got his master's degree there, and he left California 60:00and went to Boston College and became a teacher [1:00:09]. That's where both my boys got their PhDs.
C: Oh, so both of them went and got PhD's?
C: In what fields did they get their doctorates in?
B: I told you [inaudible 1:00:10] they were in industrial law [1:00:18]
C: Oh, industrial laws. And the other-
B: [inaudible 1:00:25-1:00:32]. I had him down here in Virginia at a tradeschool. And L. C. [Langston C. Bannister] got a scholarship at Tuskegee in the honors program [1:00:56]. He wasn't thirteen years old. I didn't want him to 61:00send him down there by himself. So, I pulled this boy where he was going and sent him down to Tuskegee, said, you go out there and get [inaudible 1:01:02]. And he went to school at night, but I had to pay for him.
C: I see. Well, wasn't that expensive?
B: Yeah. Yeah.
C: So, I guess that's why you were working so long and hard in the mines.
C: Do you think it was worth it?
B: I had folks that laughed at me and make fun of me, having all three of my62:00children in college at the same time.
C: Where did your daughter go to?
B: She went to Richmond.
C: Was it Virginia Union or Virginia State? I can't remember.
B: [inaudible 1:02:19]
C: Oh, you're talking about nursing school.
B: And then she got her education and she went to New York [1:02:24].
C: Seems like all your family, your children, did well.
B: Like I said, I didn't get no education, but I seen that they get one.
C: That's the most important thing, that your offspring do a little bit better63:00than you did, have it a little easier, at least. Was that something that was typical for other families? Are you unusual-
C: Or was it something that people in Wake Forest, that a lot of people, havetheir children get education and do well? Or was it something-
B: Mine was the first. Now you can take it from that.
C: First to get a college education?
C: Did others follow?
B: First to go to college.
C: First to go to college in the community.
C: Did other people follow them, their footsteps?
B: Sure [inaudible 1:03:36]
C: Why did so many children leave the area? You know, you said both yours son-
B: There were no jobs around here!
C: They couldn't find jobs in the mines?
B: They go to school four or five years to get to work in the mines. I said, I64:00might as well go work there myself.
C: [Laughs]. Yeah, you didn't have to go to school for that.
C: So, children who went to Christiansburg Institute, they didn't want to workin the mines. Is that the case?
B: No, some of them ended up [in the mines] and never did get no further thanthat. But I was determined I would [inaudible 1:04:04] sending them boys to school, the girl too. I went to Christiansburg one time, I had something going on, and that [inaudible 1:04:20] boy-
C: Oh, yeah. Was it Zacker? I forgot the name. The one who died.
B: [inaudible 1:04:45]
B: I heard him public speak over there, and he'd just come out of college. And65:00that gave me the thought that I could get my boys in there. And I told him several times after that, I said, well L. C. gonna speak at such and such place. But I'm going to help him. I said, when you starting off. He said, yeah but it ain't so hard for me now [inaudible 1:05:18]. [Laughs].
C: [Laughs]. Mr. Holmes. He taught at Christiansburg Institute?
C: He was one of the better teachers there from what I've heard.
B: They had some good teachers there. Now, Ms. Shautner used to teach there. Shetaught him French. [inaudible 1:05:58] I told her, I said, my boy thinks a whole 66:00lot of you. And she said, well I think a whole lot of him. She said, he helped me as much as I helped him. [She] said, I'd give him lessons in study hall, and he looked at me right in the eye and he said, you sure you got this right? [Laughs]. She said he kept her on her toes all the time. He said, you certain you got this right?
C: Sounds like he was a very good student.
B: He was a good student.
C: Let me ask you another question, you said like both of your sons left thearea, your daughter left the area, what about other people in Wake Forest? Did 67:00they go elsewhere, too? Did they find a lack of job opportunities in the area? Where did they choose to go to?
B: Well, I tell ya, at that time, [inaudible 1:07:16] then the powder plant come along.
C: Oh, yeah. The Radford Arsenal.
B: Yeah. And they could make pretty good money [inaudible 1:07:30].
C: So some people went and worked at that plant?
C: I guess they built that plant around World War II or during World War II? Sothat gave people some new opportunities.
C: When people started working at the arsenal, did they leave Wake Forest?
C: They continued to live there?
B: Some of them still work over there.
C: But not everybody stayed because some of the people left the area, Wake68:00Forest, I mean, left the New River Valley, period. Where did people go as a rule?
B: Well, our biggest majority went to [1:08:13] Washington.
C: Washington. And any other areas that people go to?
B: Not many.
C: Not many. What do you think they were looking for in Baltimore and Washington?
B: [inaudible 1:08:33-1:08:41]
C: Yeah, Rice Dobbins. In fact the Dobbins, they did pretty well.
B: Yeah, [inaudible 1:08:46]
C: They did pretty well. In fact, one of the Dobbins is a colonel in the airforce. So they did okay, too. There were a number of other families that did all right. 69:00
B: Yeah, I had a first cousin. She died last month. She worked her way throughschool, and she went to the air force [inaudible 1:09:17-1:09:23]. She married young, and she [inaudible 1:09:28].
C: Let me ask something else, what was social life? What did you have to do? Imean you didn't just simply work all the time? What was church life like? Did y'all have organizations? Did you belong to the Odd Fellows or the Household of Ruth or the Independent Order of St. Luke? What did y'all do besides work in 70:00Wake Forest?
B: [Inaudible 1:09:56]. I joined when I was seeking out to be a miner. I joinedthe Ruths.
C: The Household of Ruth?
B: The Household of Ruth. And I joined the Odd Fellows.
C: Which ones? The one in Christiansburg or Blacksburg?
B: [inaudible 1:10:27]
B: And then [inaudible 1:10:35-1:10:50]. And then I found him. I wanted to71:00belong to an organization. I was financially set and became an Odd Fellow [1:11:17]. [inaudible 1:11:26] made sure [inaudible 1:11:31].
C: [Laughs] Didn't find it?
B: [inaudible 1:11:52-1:12:00] And make you treat your neighbor right.[inaudible 1:12:02-1:12:20] mothers and daughters. [inaudible 1:12:34] 72:00
C: So what church did you join?
B: I joined the baptist church.
C: First Baptist at Clay?
B: No, in Wake Forest.
C: Oh, in Wake Forest Baptist Church. Okay.
B: I wasn't living down there yet [1:12:50]
C: Oh, so when did you move to Blacksburg anyway?73:00
B: I've been there twenty-five years [1:13:07]
C: Oh, so it's been awhile--But you did, you joined a church. Are you still amember in Wake Forest Baptist Church?
B: Yeah, I've been digging [1:13:10] in that church for--let's see. I wasmarried there in sixty year or a little more. [1:13:28]. There was a husband and one wife [inaudible 1:13:26]. Now, one thing I'm thankful for is marrying Revella, and I stayed with her for sixty-two years.
C: That's a lifetime of love.74:00
B: I had a [inaudible 1:13:54-1:14:02] [bell ringing in background]. I'm eighty.I'm still with her from [inaudible 1:14:10]. She's been sweet to me and [inaudible 1:14:22].
C: Did she live in Wake Forest?
B: No, her grandmother lived in Wake Forest.
C: What was her name?
C: Oh, one of the Pages? Was she related to Clarence Page?
B: Yeah [inaudible 1:14:47].
B: Do you know Clarence?
C: Well, I read of him. There was an interview that was conducted, an earlierinterview. I read that interview. So, I know of Clarence Page but-- 75:00
B: And then, you know I was in a [1:15:20] nursing home [inaudible 1:15:21]. Istayed in there for over nine months. And she stayed in there [inaudible 1:15:34-1:15:40]. First born child [inaudible 1:15:45].
C: That's real old. Well, you mentioned that you were a member of the OddFellows and the Household of Ruth and the Masons. What did y'all do? Besides say that you were brothers forever. What did y'all do? Because I know it must have 76:00been kind of restricted social life because whites didn't socialize with Blacks that much, probably. You couldn't probably go to the theater that much. So was that-
B: Yes we did.
C: You did? Did y'all go to The Lyric [Theater]?
C: Could you sit anywhere you wanted?
B: No, you had to sit upstairs.
C: So Black people had to sit upstairs? But when you went to the-
B: We went to everything.
C: Y'all went to everything?
C: What about restaurants? Could you go to any restaurants?
C: Where they'd let you sit down?
B: They didn't let us sit [inaudible 1:16:48]
C: Were there any Black businesses that stood out? I mean, were there any Blackbusinesses in the past which Blacks operated? 77:00
B: I don't know.
C: Was there somebody like S. B. Morgan in this town? Burrell Morgan ofChristiansburg. I mean, he was a prominent businessman. Did you find people like that in Wake Forest or Blacksburg?
B: Well, we didn't have nothing like that in--I had an ice cream parlor.
C: Oh so you had a business? What about the Mills? I understand they had a dance hall.
C: The Mills. Aubrey Mills? Did they have a little dance place?
B: [inaudible 1:17:40]
C: Did people go quite often there?
B: [inaudible 1:17:45]
C: Well, you said you had an ice cream parlor. Was it a good business?
C: Who went? Did whites and Blacks buy from you?
C: You just operated during the summer I guess.78:00
B: No, all through [inaudible 1:18:01]
C: All the time?
B: [inaudible 1:18:11] snow on the ground, and you can't let the sun shine hot [1:18:12]
C: [Laughs]. So you had quite a few jobs. You worked in the mines, you workedwith--now when you got out the mines, was this store in Wake Forest?
C: So you had a place in Wake Forest?
C: Did other Blacks have business in Wake Forest?
B: [inaudible 1:18:34]
C: Who else started something like that?
B: Clarence Page. [inaudible 1:18:49-1:19:00]79:00
C: So, your wife was running the store?
B: Yeah. She started at seven [inaudible 1:19:06]
C: So did you just sell ice cream or did you just sell other things besides?
B: Sold everything.
C: Sold everything? It was a convenience store?
C: Was that the nearest store in the area? For instance, if you wanted if youwanted to do some shopping, where'd you go? If you wanted to go to the grocery store, how far did you have to go?
B: I had a grocery store.
C: Oh you had it? So you didn't have to go any farther? So you didn't have to goto let's say, I don't know if Wade's had been in business that long, but you didn't have to come all the way to Blacksburg to get something? Did you sell meats and stuff of that nature?
C: You sold meats?
B: Sold everything.
C: Sold everything. What about drugs? If you had a headache or something and youhad to get an aspirin to something, you sell that? 80:00
B: [inaudible 1:20:05]
C: You had it huh?
B: I'd order to get whatever I didn't have.
C: That sounds like a pretty good operation. So that kept your wife real busy?
C: What were the hours of the store? Did it open everyday or almost everyday? Iguess not Sunday, probably.
B: [inaudible 1:20:34]
C: Oh, she would sell ice cream Sunday evening. But it was open generally fromwhat? Monday through Saturday for the most part? What kind of hours did they have? When did y'all open it up and when did y'all close it up?
B: When we opened up our house, it was right on the side of it.
C: So, it was right next to your house?81:00
B: Yeah, [inaudible 1:20:59]
C: So, somebody could knock on the door and ask why y'all not open? [Laughs]. Itsounds like my grandfather. My grandfather had a convenience store. Had this place similar to what you had. It was out in the country in North Carolina, and he had soda pop and all kinds of stuff. Candy and all kinds of things. Pickled-
B: [inaudible 1:21:30]
C: So you were at the first Black ones. Was this in Wake Forest?
C: So your uncle, which one?
C: George Bannister had the first store. Was it like your store?
B: [inaudible 1:21:54]
C: Oh, so he had a--kind of like my grandfather--his was about a hundred yards82:00from his home.
B: Oh, we didn't live that far [1:22:05]
C: But it was the same. It was a convenience store like we would call 7-11 or something.
B: Yeah. [inaudible 1:22:16]
C: Did he do okay?
B: [inaudible 1:22:22]
C: And what happened? Did he get rid of the store or? What happened to his store?
B: Well, same thing [inaudible 1:22:48]
C: So, after a while it wasn't very profitable. So he had to stop them. How longdid you operate your store though? 83:00
B: For [inaudible 1:23:01]
C: Ten, twenty years?
B: I don't know [inaudible 1:23:15]. It was probably ten [1:23:17]
C: Ten. Well, that was a good venture. Let's see, well I think we have coveredmost of the--let me ask you one last question. When you wanted to get some credit, did you find it was easy to get credit from the banks and savings and loans? Or did you go to the Odd Fellows to get loans?
B: [inaudible 1:23:45]
C: Well, if you wanted to get insurance or get a loan did you go to the banks?
B: Always had [inaudible 1:23:53]. Never no trouble for me to get any amount of84:00money I wanted.
C: So did you go to the banks?
C: So what banks did you have to deal with?
B: I had the bank of Christiansburg.
C: Okay. I remember that one.
B: A bank in Blacksburg. I'll tell you how I got money from the bank.
C: How'd you do that?
B: It was the best way to do it for anybody else. I loved their children, andthis little old boy when I started there, [inaudible 1:24:47] go to his home. [inaudible 1:24:56] and he often had president of the bank. I forget. And I 85:00could tell [inaudible 1:25:08] since I was a little boy. [inaudible 1:25:17]. You got to get some money for boots.
C: That was your nickname?
B: Yeah. He wants some money. The money will come.
B: I paid him back. I'm a good tipper. Anyway, in Christiansburg, another way Ihad a [inaudible 1:26:05-1:26:07]. I didn't need money. I worked. For five 86:00hundred and some dollars, he bought [inaudible 1:26:20], fifteen maybe twenty dollars the most. [inaudible 1:26:30] I stayed with her for about ten or fifteen years and worked on a farm for her. [1:26:39]
C: What was her name?
B: Mary Collins.
C: Mary Collins?
B: Mary Cowlens.
C: Oh Cowlens. I'm sorry.
B: When I got ready to build this house, I went to Christiansburg bank.87:00[inaudible 1:27:17] was out on vacation. And the mine was in this place [inaudible 1:27:21]. I had to hunt them down there in Wake Forest. [inaudible 1:27:30-1:27:43].
C: They didn't want you to have a loan?
B: No, they [inaudible 1:27:51]
C: Why did they say you couldn't have a loan?
B: [inaudible 1:28:01]88:00
C: You think that was a fair deal?
B: No, I don't and I didn't do it.
C: Do you think he was going to cheat you out of your properties?
B: No, he just wanted [inaudible 1:28:14]. And he wanted me to know [inaudible1:28:20-1:28:35]. I didn't never [inaudible 1:28:35] And then I went to this bank over here. [inaudible 1:28:58] and then I found out [inaudible 1:28:42]. I 89:00had a good place down there. [inaudible 1:29:04] Satisfy him because he wanted it done that way.
C: Do you think he was just being racist or being bigotted? Why do you think hewas trying-
B: He thought I wanted a loan so much he cheated his place while she was onvacation [1:29:25]. And when she didn't come back, I turned him in, turned Cheatham in for reference and got a lawyer [1:29:45]
C: Cheatham is like what's going on here? [1:29:55]
B: [inaudible 1:30:00].
B: I looked at Frank Bannisters accounts, and he hadn't missed a payment infifteen years. Never have failed to pay anything. He bought his car, bought his 90:00land, everything he got from the bank.
B: I looked at his records and if I looked at yours [1:30:14] and he nevermissed a payment for fifteen years. You can't come in here and run my good customers all away like that. He told me, said Frank, you can borrow any amount of money you want. I'll take care of you like I always did. I had some money saved up that was to build this house. This house was built, and I was moved in, 91:00stayed in it for thirty days had it fixed up in no time.
C: So did you go back? Did Mr. Cheatham give you a loan?
C: So you didn't file a-
B: No, I didn't go back.
C: You went back to Cheatham?
B: Cheatham come over here to see me.
B: He told me, don't fool with the bank down here. He said, when we were inRoanoke, they don't know you like I know you. Miss a payment with them, maybe I take you [inaudible 1:31:41].
C: Were they likely to do that? Did that happen to people?
B: Yeah, [inaudible 1:31:50] a lot of people in those days.
C: Was this area primarily a Black community?
C: But Jackson street was a Black community?
B: Yeah, there were a few Blacks. Yeah. Few of them from down here. [inaudible 1:32:16].
C: How many other Black communities were in Blacksburg? When you first moved here?
C: Yeah, I've heard of Newtown.
B: Bitter Hill.
C: Bitter Hill. Where is that at? I've never heard of Bitter Hill.
B: Over there on Roanoke Street.
C: Oh, okay. Is it near the cemetery? Is it past the cemetery?
B: Past the cemetery.
C: Like going up that hill?
B: [inaudible 1:32:54] was Bitter Hill.
C: What about the Clay Street area?93:00
B: [inaudible 1:33:04]
C: Were there a lot of Black land owners at one time in this area?
C: Or were people, they had properties, but they didn't have a lot of land?
B: Many homeowners up here went down to Wake Forest. Probably had no enterpriseup here. With the power plant and few other things come in here. They didn't have no work here, I guess, other than the school.
C: Why were so many people leaving this area? Why did so many Black people leavethis area?
B: I told you they couldn't find no work.
C: No jobs. Was that something that was true when they had integration or was itsomething before integration?
B: It's true all the time.94:00
C: All the time. So it's been a steady decline.
C: Well, I guess-
B: And then [T. Marshall] Hahn, he opened the college up.
C: Uh-huh. And that meant that there were people, Black people, going to school.Were Blacks working at the college? Did Blacks work in the college very much?
B: Yeah. [inaudible 1:34:30]
C: Which was what?
B: [inaudible 1:34:38]
C: Dining hall work maybe?
B: Yeah. Blacks couldn't do nothing. They could clean and cook.
C: So that was the only job for Blacks at the college? Were there a lot ofBlacks working at the college at that time before Hahn got there?
C: There were no Blacks working before Hahn got there?95:00
B: Just a few.
C: Just a few. But more of them got work when Hahn came.
B: Hahn spilled the thing right open [1:34:59]
C: Let me ask you another thing, what was the reaction when they started talkingabout desegregation of the schools? What was the reaction of whites when they had to deal with that with the Brown [v. Board of Education] decision of 54, 55? You remember their reaction when they heard that the law said, now you had to have not separate, that you had to have integrated?
B: Well, I was working for [President] Hahn at the college at that time, and Itell you what he come to the house and told me.
C: Okay, what did he tell you?
B: He said, [inaudible 1:35:45], I understand that every man is black in this96:00house for [inaudible 1:35:48]. [Static in recording]. And I'm tell you-
[Break in interview]
C: Okay, you mentioned that you had worked with Mr. Hahn, and he came to yourplace to talk about integration.
B: No, I didn't say that.
C: Oh, well he came to your place?
B: I said, you asked me about integration [inaudible 1:36:06].
B: And I told you I was working for Dr. Hahn's at the time. I was his house[inaudible 1:36:19]
C: At the president's house?
B: Yeah. I worked thirty-some years.
C: Oh, you worked twenty some years in the mines and thirty some years at[Virginia] Tech?
B: I was eighty-four years old before I retired at [Virginia] Tech. I was97:00working with Dr. Hahn when he came to the house that [inaudible 1:37:02]. He said, [inaudible 1:37:03], I understand that they never had nothing but colored coming over for dinner to parties [1:37:20]. I said, Newman didn't want them in the house [inaudible 1:37:31].
C: Is Dr. Newman a former president of [Virginia] Tech?
B: Yeah [inaudible 1:37:37], and Dr. Hahn said, well they paid their price forschool just like everybody else, Blacks. And I've been wanting to tell you first you will receive a [inaudible 1:37:59-1:37:09]. 98:00
C: One of the Black students?
B: [inaudible 1:38:13]. And I want you to treat them all just alike. Doesn'tmake no difference between [inaudible 1:38:14] bent over backwards for none of you. Don't-
C: Don't mistreat them either. [Laughs].
B: Don't mistreat them. Treat them all alike. Don't bend over backwards for noneof you. Don't mistreat them. Treat them all alike. I know the first that we ever had. Boy, I tell you that was something else. [1:38:47]
C: Was there a lot of controversy about that, or was there any fall out, so tospeak, as a consequence? How did it go? 99:00
B: It went all right but [inaudible 1:38:56].
C: A lot of worry but it worked out?
B: Men were so overwhelmed. I had one come in the house to fix up the front door[1:39:19] front door. The President was standing there [inaudible 1:39:34] And students come in that house, two come in this way. [inaudible 1:39:41-1:40:09] 100:00
C: How big was your staff?
B: Oh, I had a big staff. I had [inaudible 1:40:24-1:40:35]. Six to eight waiters.
C: That's a fairly big operation. You had about ten or more people.
B: I had more than that.
C: More than that?
C: Maybe somewhere in between. Did they often have these parties? Did they have101:00other parties besides the freshmen get together with the students?
C: So they were always having some social affair or another?
B: Often with five hundred people for about three hours.
C: You know, I'm listening to this, and you sound like--have you ever worked atthe university club because Mr. Bell, I talked with him and he said, he pretty much had the same type of--he was a supervisor for the university club.
B: [inaudible 1:41:40]
C: Yeah they had little get-togethers too.
B: Had get-togethers. It wasn't nothing like the [inaudible 1:41:52].
C: You had more people though, you said five hundred people could come.102:00
B: Yes. Well, there was a lot of freshmen.
C: Was this a catered affair or did y'all do the cooking or how-
C: The university cooked the food, and then y'all served it?
B: The university did the cooking [1:42:13]. They brought the cakes. Mr. King,do you know him?
C: Mr. King?
B: Arnold King.
C: Arnold King. No, I don't believe I know him.
B: I knew him. [inaudible 1:42:38]
C: Was he Black or was he white?
B: He was white. He was older. He brought the food for the college. He did thewhole thing. [1:42:54]
C: He operated all the dining halls?103:00
C: That was a big operation. Was this before the college got as big as it isnow? Or is it about the time it started to get big?
B: Time it was starting to get big. [Bell rings in background].
C: I guess you've seen the college has grown really significantly since you werefirst there. You said you worked there a number of years. It's changed from being a small college to a big university.
B: You couldn't realize it if you could see it [1:43:27].
C: Growth for the college. I guess I've monopolized your time, so I guess wehave to come to an end. We covered a lot of ground. I'd really like to thank you for your cooperation and your help in this project.
B: Well, you're welcome. I hope [inaudible 1:43:44]-104:00
C: Oh, quite a bit. Quite a bit of history, but we'll stop on that note.
[End of Interview]