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0:29 - Naomi's family

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Partial Transcript: Naomi: Montgomery County, Wake Forest, Virginia. It's in Montgomery County.

Susannah: And what were your parents' names?

Naomi: My dad's name was Leroy Mills and my mother, she was a Pulliam.

Keywords: Montgomery County; Pulliam; Virginia

Subjects: Wake Forest

2:32 - Growing up in Wake Forest

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Partial Transcript: Susannah: Oh, Wake Forest. Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Wake Forest?

Naomi: Well, it was just a small, I guess you would say, rural, country place because there were no stores or anything like for

Keywords: Wake Forest

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Wake Forest

4:36 - Being a Student at Christiansburg Institute

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Partial Transcript: Susannah: Do you remember what year that was, that you started at CI?

Naomi: Let's see, I graduated in [19]54. So it must have been about, I guess, 1950. When I went to CI first, I was--well, I was real young. Because I graduated from Christiansburg Institute at fifteen.

Susannah: Um-hm.

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Wake Forest

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

11:50 - Life at CI

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Partial Transcript: Naomi: Yeah, yeah we had fun. We had fun, I tell you. CI was really, as the young people would say, rockin' at that time.

Susannah: Was it?

Naomi: Yeah, we had--it was great. We had a good football team

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; football; marching band

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

19:48 - Memories of Wake Forest Elementary

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Partial Transcript: Naomi: The only school in Wake Forest was the little elementary school that I went to. That's the only school. And we only had one teacher and she taught, but we used to help with the lower grades.

Keywords: Elementary School; Wake Forest

Subjects: Wake Forest Elementary

32:18 - Naomi Meeting Her Husband

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Partial Transcript: Susannah: Where did you meet your husband?

Naomi: I met him at church.

Susannah: At church?

Keywords: Christiansburg; Church; husband

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

36:29 - CI Reunions

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Partial Transcript: But I'll tell you when we did see each other a lot, when we had the reunions, the CI reunions.

Susannah: How often would you have CI reunions?

Naomi: We would have something every year, but it's like every--we had the big one not this past yea

Keywords: Reunions

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

39:56 - Naomi's family moving from Wake Forest

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Partial Transcript: My sister and all of them, my whole family except my brother--I got a brother who lives in Roanoke--but the rest of my family moved to Baltimore. They've been there--

Susannah: Oh, really?

Keywords: Batlimore; moving; roanoke

Subjects: Roanoke

43:29 - Remembering former teachers from CI

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Partial Transcript: Susannah: So do you have a favorite teacher from Christiansburg Institute that you remember?

Naomi: Yeah, I do. I remember Mr. Holmes, my government teacher. His name was Zimri Holmes, and he was a good teacher. He was just a nice man, a nice Christian teacher man. I liked him a whole lot. I think he was my favorite. I mean, the other teachers, they were okay but I liked him. I mean they were good teachers, yeah.

0:00

´╗┐Susannah Loumiet: This is Susannah Loumiet with the Blacksburg Oral History Project and I am with Naomi Davidson in Pulaski, Virginia. What is your name and age?

Naomi Davidson: Naomi Davidson and I'm seventy-four years old.

Susannah: Where were you born?

Naomi: Montgomery County, Wake Forest, Virginia. It's in Montgomery County.

Susannah: And what were your parents' names?

Naomi: My dad's name was Leroy Mills and my mother, she was a Pulliam. Mary Lee Pulliam, that's her maiden name, but she married my dad so she was Mary Lee Mills.

Susannah: Were they born in Montgomery County as well?

1:00

Naomi: My dad was born in Radford, Virginia and my mother was born in Stony Creek, Virginia. It's down near Richmond, that area. I think they call it east Virginia but that's where she was born, Stony Creek, Virginia.

Susannah: So how old were you when you moved to Pulaski?

Naomi: Okay, Michelle was my baby. She was born in June. We moved here in July. She's forty-two now. So, I guess I was in my forties.

Susannah: In your forties. Did you grow up--

Naomi: No, because I'm seventy-four now.

Susannah: After you went to Christiansburg Institute you moved to Pulaski?

2:00

Naomi: No, no. After Christiansburg Institute, I moved away. I went to Baltimore, Maryland and stayed for maybe two years. Then, from there, I went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stayed about a year, and then from there I came back home. Then that's when I got married.

Susannah: But when you went to Christiansburg Institute, were you living in Montgomery County?

Naomi: Right, Wake Forest.

Susannah: Oh, Wake Forest. Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Wake Forest?

Naomi: Well, it was just a small, I guess you would say, rural, country place because there were no stores or anything like for--it was--we had to go to Blacksburg in order to do our trading, like banks and really to get groceries and everything. There were a few small stores, grocery stores, where you could 3:00get groceries and everything. But, main things like that, getting clothes and stuff like that, we had to either go to Blacksburg or Radford or Christiansburg. So, it was a very small place. No traffic lights or anything like that. It's just a little country place.

Susannah: Do you have siblings?

Naomi: Yes, I had four brothers and I had one sister. I have two brothers that are deceased.

Susannah: What schools did you go to before Christiansburg Institute?

Naomi: I went to Wake Forest Elementary and that went to the seventh grade. So, from the seventh grade, we went to the Christiansburg Institute because the 4:00grades there were eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh, and when you were a eighth grader you were a freshman, ninth grader sophomore, tenth grade junior, eleventh grade you were a senior. They didn't have the twelfth grade on down.

Susannah: Really?

Naomi: Um-hm.

Susannah: I didn't know that.

Naomi: So I left a record from Wake Forest Elementary to CI.

Susannah: Do you remember what year that was, that you started at CI?

Naomi: Let's see, I graduated in [19]54. So it must have been about, I guess, 1950. When I went to CI first, I was--well, I was real young. Because I graduated from Christiansburg Institute at fifteen.

Susannah: Um-hm.

Naomi: Because, evidently, I guess I was about maybe twelve, eleven--

5:00

Susannah: Wait, you graduated at fifteen?

Naomi: Um-hm.

Susannah: So you started when you were--

Naomi: I was just--I guess I was about twelve years old or something like that. What happened in the elementary school, they skipped me from the second to the fourth. I didn't do third grade. So, they skipped me and I went to high school I was just real young.

Susannah: Were you a lot younger than everyone else?

Naomi: Yeah, yeah, basically, yeah I was. But you know, back then it wasn't bad. I mean, you just caught on so. Yeah, when I got out of high school. I was really too young to really do anything even when I got out of high school because I couldn't afford college. I had an uncle that lived in Baltimore, my mother's brother, and she allowed me to go up there and start working. I did get a job up there.

6:00

Susannah: Where did you start working?

Naomi: I started working at Johns Hopkins hospital as a nur--well you had to take a test and all that but I got on as a nursing assistant. Well, they called it a nurse's aid then. Um-hm.

Susannah: So did Christiansburg Institute prepare you, did you take nursing classes or?

Naomi: Well, no. I didn't. But I always wanted to be a nurse but, no I just took the regular classes like english and math courses from like sophomore year I took maybe like, it was algebra and then whatever the grades that math class was. I never took trigonometry or nothin' like that. I did take algebra, and then history and we had literature and, of course, we had home ec, we called it. Home ec, which I guess would be like--

7:00

Susannah: Home economics sort of thing?

Naomi: Yeah, yeah. And I took that, then I took also beauty culture. I did that too. But, I had no idea. Now, you can take classes and things that will prepare you for whatever you want to do, your career. But then, we just took what was required of us.

Susannah: So did you have older siblings?

Naomi: Yes, I'm the youngest of my family.

Susannah: Ah, you're the youngest. And did they go to Christiansburg Institute, too?

Naomi: Yes, all of them went but I only had one other to graduate. They dropped out. My sister, she was a senior, she dropped out. My brother Billy, he dropped out and he went in the service. My oldest brother Junior, he went in the 8:00service. My brother James was the one that graduated from high school. He was the only one and myself. Then, I had another brother that he dropped out.

Susannah: Were they there at the same time as you?

Naomi: My brother Roy was, and my brother James, seems like he was maybe a junior or senior when I was just going. I think I went one year with my brother James that graduated. Then, of course, after he got out of high school he went directly into the air force.

Susannah: One second.

[break in recording]

Susannah: Okay, so you were saying your brother was at Christiansburg Institute--

Naomi: Right.

Susannah: --at the same time as you.

Naomi: Right. I think he was like a senior when I was maybe a freshman. My brother James and my brother Roy, we were there together at the high school. 9:00'Cause he's just a few months older than I am. Well, not months. We're close to the same age because he's seventy-four right now. He'll be seventy-five in March, and I just turned seventy-four in October last Saturday.

Susannah: And did you know that you would go to Christiansburg Institute rather than another high school?

Naomi: Yeah, at that time that was the only high school we could go to. There were other high schools but they were segregated at the time. Children from all over the New River Valley area, including Floyd, down in Elliston and 10:00Shawsville, Radford, Pulaski, Montgomery County--we all went to the same, to that one school. At the time that was the only school that we could go to.

Susannah: Um-hm.

Naomi: Um-hm.

Susannah: So how would you get to school?

Naomi: School bus.

Susannah: School bus?

Naomi: Um-hm. We left around 7:30 each morning, maybe seven--from seven to 7:30 each morning, got back home 4:30 to five o'clock each evening. 'Cause we had to. Other children rode our bus, we had to stop, pick up children, going--well, we went to Vicker and our bus did pick up children there. We picked up Blacksburg children. I think that was all--and the Wake Forest children. So, you know, then they just get home late after getting everybody back home.

Susannah: How long do you think the commute was, to school and back?

11:00

Naomi: Okay, at least--let's see. We leave out no later than 7:30. Well, we had to get to school 'cause I think school started at maybe 8:30, something to nine maybe. I would say a couple of hours. An hour and a half maybe. It would take like going and then coming back.

Susannah: Was it an enjoyable ride? Did you--

Naomi: Yeah, yeah we had fun. We had fun, I tell you. CI was really, as the 12:00young people would say, rockin' at that time.

Susannah: Was it?

Naomi: Yeah, we had--it was great. We had a good football team and we had a nice band and the cheerleaders. It was just really nice, nice school. I also, I also forgot. We also had dormitories there. Kids that were from Galax and Wytheville in that area, they stayed. They came to our school and they stayed all week and then they would go home. We had a dormitory for them to stay in.

Susannah: Did you know a lot of students there before you started at CI?

Naomi: No, 'cause I didn't get out that much. Maybe a few people from Blacksburg, just by going there with my mother and all to shop and do things. 13:00Maybe some people from Christiansburg, too, and Radford, but not a whole lot of people. Yeah, I knew a few people.

Susannah: What about people from Wake Forest?

Naomi: Yeah, yeah. I knew everybody from there.

Susannah: So your friends from there went the same time you did.

Naomi: Yeah, the ones that were in my grade. Um-hm, yeah, they went. Once they leave in the upper grades everybody went. We had a good time, though. It was just, I don't know. I really think that--I mean, I wouldn't want--I'm glad that 14:00my children got to go to the school where we're from, Pulaski. But, the experience that we had at CI, I really wish they knew the experience we had and know what a good school it was and how--it was just all--now they have torn down most of the buildings and things like that, but it was almost just like a little college that we had. I mean dormitories and we had a new gym. They had built a new gym and all of that. The band had a room and it was just really nice. It was a nice setting with nice trees and at lunchtime, we could go and sit on the lawn and eat our lunch. We didn't have to go to the cafeteria if we didn't want to. But, we had hot food in the cafeteria if we wanted to get lunch. But most of the 15:00time, I just carried mine.

Susannah: So do you have a favorite memory from your time at Christiansburg Institute?

Naomi: Yeah, maybe, our junior and senior prom. That was really nice. I went both years, when I was a junior and when I was a senior. I really liked that. Yeah, I sang in the choir. Did I say did we have a choir? No. I liked to sing. I'm sure we should have had a choir, but I just can't remember the choir. But, 16:00well, but anyway.

Susannah: Who were your closest friends there?

Naomi: That went to school there?

Susannah: Um-hm.

Naomi: Okay. I had a real good friend named Bertha Parker. She was from New River, Virginia. We hung together a lot. But, basically, just all the girls that were in my class, we just sorta hang together. It wasn't like, well, we were all just so scattered from different places you couldn't--the only time you'd see one another maybe was at school. Back then, I know we had telephones [laughter] 17:00but--I'm not that old that we didn't have, but I do remember when we got our first telephone, though. I remember when there weren't--not over in Wake Forest--any telephones. And then, you were on a party line, it was four or five people, you'd pick up and wanna call, and somebody would be on the line. You had to hang up. It was somethin'.

Susannah: So, sorry to ask you again, but you said that you graduated Christiansburg Institute in what year?

Naomi: 1954.

Susannah: So that was right around Brown v. Board of Education. Do you remember anything about that while you were here? While you were in school?

Naomi: No.

Susannah: No?

Naomi: About what now, ya say?

Susannah: Brown v. Board of Education, desegregation, anything?

Naomi: No, I really don't remember. Because, like I said, when I finished high 18:00school I was still young. I went to Baltimore and stayed up there. Then, because I came back home from being away, I think I was 20. Because I know back then you had to get consent from your parents to get married so my mother had to sign for me to get married. But, so I don't remember anything about that.

Susannah: Was there a high school in Wake Forest?

19:00

Naomi: No, the closest high school that we may could have gone to was Blacksburg. So and the white children did from our area. See, Long Shop and McCoy, Wake Forest, they're all little small towns, surrounding towns. McCoy, Wake Forest, Prices Fork, they're all surrounding towns like Wake Forest, and so the white children, they went to Blacksburg High school. Of course, we all had to go to to CI--CII. The only school in Wake Forest was the little elementary school that I went to. That's the only school. And we only had one teacher and 20:00she taught, but we used to help with the lower grades. We would help her. But she taught from the first--there was no Kindergarten either--so she taught from the first grade to the seventh. Her name was Mayo, Ms. Mayo. M-A-Y-O.

Susannah: So do you have fond memories of that school?

Naomi: Yes, yes. Now, that we really had a good time. It was like a country school. Well, when we got there we had to make the fire because it was cold in the winter time. And so some of the boys would make the fire and get the school warm. And it was only a two room school, but we had little adjoining rooms like a cloak room and a washroom where we washed our hands, and we had the old timey--like outside--we had a pump that we had to pump our water and we had to 21:00wash our hands before we ate our lunch. Then after lunch, the teacher let us go, all the children--it was a ball field, a diamond field, right down below the school, below the church--we all at recess would go down there and play ball and just had a good time. I think we were out for about an hour, then she would ring the bell, and when we heard that bell ring then we knew we had to get back to school. So we all went back to school. And, we had the outside toilets, but they did have one for boys and had one for girls. And it was nice and during the month of May we had May Day. That's what we called it. And we wrapped the 22:00maypole, and the girls had on nice little dresses, ruffle dresses, and the boys--if we wore white dresses then they had on a white shirt and black pants--and we wrapped the maypole. That was a big day at our school.

Susannah: Was it?

Naomi: Yeah, and also we would have a lot of programs, plays and things like that, and invite the parents in the evening to come, especially Halloween, and anytime it was a holiday. We had a Christmas play, and Thanksgiving, Halloween, we dressed up and did trick-or-treating, or had some kind of bobbing for apples like any school. We did a lot of fun things. Then we would go on field trips but 23:00of course, we didn't have cars to go, so we would walk for miles. This place called Long Shop, we would--this one teacher--well I guess we were pretty good students, because we walked all the way. I bet you we walked five miles or more to this place called Love--I think we called it Lover's Leap, and we went up there and there was the creek, and we carried our lunch, and we had a picnic. It was an outing for us. And then we swam, we took something to swim in and we would stay up there all day, and then we would walk back home.

Susannah: That sounds really nice.

Naomi: Yeah, I guess we were a lot healthier then because we walked. [laughter] Yeah, it was. My elementary school days, it was fun. I really reminisce on that 24:00a lot. High school was good, too, but it was different. There were some things, we had--. Now I realize--you didn't think about it then because you didn't know what to call it--but there was some bullying in our school, too.

Susannah: Was there?

Naomi: Yeah, I know a girl did me, yeah, she did. And so, now I know really what it was. But I guess that's everywhere. By us being young--there's bullying everywhere you go, but we had it back then too.

Susannah: Not in your elementary school, though?

Naomi: No, no, elementary school was--it was the bomb.

Susannah: Really? [laughter]

Naomi: Yeah, it was nice. Of course kids now, I'm not saying that children didn't get into scuffles and little fights and things, but it was nothing that the teacher couldn't even resolve before we even got home. And of course, we 25:00walked to school. In elementary school there were no buses for us. We walked, and also, I was telling my grandchildren--I said, there could come the biggest snow out there, we didn't let our school. We just went on and had school. Then we had so much fun coming home, because we had to walk in it. I don't remember too much of them ever closing schools because of snow. We trampled through that snow and got there, we did.

Susannah: At Christiansburg, would they close it or would it be harder?

Naomi: Yeah, they did close because of the buses and things like that. But, I can't remember too much bad weather where we did close CI, but they did close if the weather got real bad because a lot of the school buses were driven by 26:00students that went there, but our school bus wasn't. Yeah, no. We had this man to drive, but a lot of kids drove school buses, especially if they were a senior or something like that. I know this guy from Dublin drove the school bus and he went to school in Pulaski, too. As a matter of fact my friend of mine, Barbara, her son drove a school bus, but he was in school too. They allowed that, but now, they wouldn't do that now.

Susannah: So, did you meet a lot of people at Christiansburg Institute that you 27:00wouldn't have met otherwise?, Friends?

Naomi: Yeah, especially the children, students that came from Galax and Wytheville and even Floyd. I didn't know any of those children from over there until they came to school. And, Shawsville and Elliston. Definitely those areas, I didn't know people until I met them at school.

Susannah: How many students do you think there were, roughly?

Naomi: Oh Lord, at CI?

Susannah: Yeah.

Naomi: Oh, I would say, because my graduating class, I think we had fifty-some 28:00that graduated in our class. It wasn't like kids here, like two hundred and all like that. But, I guess the whole school, maybe two hundred, two [hundred] fifty maybe. Could be more or less, but sorta in that area. The whole school. Because I know one of my children graduated from Pulaski. Lord in their class, they had like two hundred. But, I'd say roughly maybe two hundred, two [hundred] fifty, more or less.

Susannah: So how was Christiansburg Institute different from your elementary school?

Naomi: Well, one way it was different was, because as I said in the elementary 29:00school we only had the two rooms, and at CI, our classes were in different rooms, so we were able to change classes. If I had math at eleven--well, say ten--and then I had to go maybe to my government classes at maybe eleven, or 10:30, something like that. So the changing of classes for one thing was different than elementary school. And we were able to--the hot lunches, we didn't have hot lunch. We either carried our lunch to the elementary school or they did allow us to--we could even go home and eat lunch and get back at a certain time. So having the cafeteria at the school and hot lunches and riding 30:00the school bus; all of that was different because we didn't do that in elementary.

Susannah: Did you say your teachers name was Ms. Mayo?

Naomi: Yeah, that was elementary.

Susannah: Did you keep in contact with her after you finished elementary school?

Naomi: Yeah. She lived in Wake Forest and then finally, she passed away. Then they got another teacher that taught, and her name was Ms. Young. She taught the other, younger--. Now I lived in Wake Forest for just a while before I got married. When I got married, we lived over here for a while, then we moved to 31:00Wake Forest. Because we stayed in my mother's house. My mother, she stayed with a family in New York, and also she was in Georgia, so we lived in her house for a while, then we rented another house until we built this one here. My children, my oldest son, we were living in Wake Forest, so he went to Price's Fork Elementary. We didn't have any more school in Wake Forest. That little school just phased out I guess.

Susannah: Did it?

Naomi: Um-hm. So when my son was born, and other kids, they went to Price's Fork. That's where he went and he did kindergarten. They started kindergarten. 32:00But, I don't know why. I guess it's just the way it was, but like I said, there was no kindergarten, you just went from first grade to seventh, then from eighth to eleven. That was how, you know.

Susannah: Where did you meet your husband?

Naomi: I met him at church.

Susannah: At church?

Naomi: Um-hm.

Susannah: What church did you go to?

Naomi: We were at a Church in Christiansburg when I met him. We were having some kind of, I think, we have what we call unions. That's on the fifth Sunday of each month, we would go, all the churches would get together and just have service and all. So he's from Pulaski, and I was from Wake Forest, and we were there in Christiansburg at a church and that's where I met him. But when I met him, I still wasn't living here. I had just come home from a visit. And then I 33:00went back to Philadephia, and he started writing and we started writing. And then, really, [laughter] he said, well, why don't we get married? I tell ya: well, okay [laughter], So I came back home from Philadelphia and got married. And then I've been here ever since. So we got married in Christiansburg in [19]60, so we got married in [19]59.

Susannah: In Pulaski?

Naomi: No, in Wake Forest. We had two churches in Wake Forest. That's just how small it was. It was called the Baptist Church and one was called the Holiness Church, and I got married at the Baptist Church, but I attended the Holiness Church because the Baptist Church was larger. We just had a little small church. 34:00But that was the Holiness Church. But, since then, they have built a bigger place over there.

Susannah: Did your husband grow up in Pulaski?

Naomi: Um-hm.

Susannah: So did he go to Christiansburg Institute?

Naomi: No, he didn't go to high school. He just had elementary or seventh grade education. He didn't go to high school at all. He was the oldest of his family siblings, and he really had to work to help his mother because she had all those children, and, she--. Well, my husband's dad and her, they separated or divorced or something when he was just--I think he said he was a year old or something like that. And then, she, of course she had a lot more children by another man. I mean they lived together, but they weren't married. But he was the only one that she had by her husband before they separated. When I met him he was taking 35:00care of his sisters and brothers. He worked to do that.

Susannah: So did you keep in contact with any of your friends from Christiansburg Institute after you graduated?

Naomi: Well, no, not really. If I would see them in a store or something but just to write and do like that, no.

Susannah: No?

Naomi: No, because I just knew 'em and everything, but as far as just being 36:00really buddy-buddy, I wasn't--. I had met other people, other friends, when I went away. So no, I really didn't. But I'll tell you when we did see each other a lot, when we had the reunions, the CI reunions.

Susannah: How often would you have CI reunions?

Naomi: We would have something every year, but it's like every--we had the big one not this past year. Last year, 2000, let's see. This is--

Susannah: 2012.

37:00

Naomi: Maybe it was 2010 that we had the last big one. But we have a little something every year. But not everybody comes in. But when we have the big one, like when we had this big one in 2010, I remember seeing a lot of my schoolmates, because a lot of them are dead too. A lot of my classmates are dead. We had this girl from Maryland. As a matter of fact, we sat together at the table. Then another friend of mine, I mean a classmate, who had moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. She was in. Some of them would come in and some would not. But that's where I really got to see 'em, when we would have our CI reunions.

38:00

Susannah: Right after you graduated were there reunions, or did this start happening later on?

Naomi: No, later on. After they organized and got the different things--clubs, or whatever, whatever they needed to get the reunions started. No, it was way, way, way after we graduated from high school. And I'm glad they did, whoever--I know Jackie Eaves--I don't know whether you know her or not, she lives in Blacksburg.

Susannah: Yeah, I've heard of Jackie.

Naomi: Okay, well she's our president now of the alumni association, after they got all that together. And it's different--they have different officers and everything. And in different cities, like in Roanoke, they got the alumni 39:00association, the Roanoke chapter, and up in Maryland I think we got a chapter. And, of course, down here. But we all get together. When we have the big one, we all get together. I think they have smaller ones, too. They have little things on the year that's not the big one in the different cities that they are in.

Susannah: Did you keep in touch with any of your friends from your elementary school in Wake Forest?

Naomi: Yeah, I think. A lot, yeah. Because a lot of the people I went to school with in Wake Forest, they moved. See, what happened, there weren't jobs and things down in this area for us, and we had to go to the city somewhere to get a job--ya know, a decent job. So a lot of people from Wake Forest moved to Alexandria, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland. My sister and all of them, my whole family except my brother--I got a brother who lives in Roanoke--but the 40:00rest of my family moved to Baltimore. They've been there--

Susannah: Oh, really?

Naomi: Right. They've been there for years. Well, their children were born here. But, they're old. So, my sister and brothers, they moved to Baltimore when their children were just small and my sister is eighty years old now so she's been there for years.

Susannah: She's there now?

Naomi: Um-hm. And I got a brother, my brother James lives there. I told you I had two brothers deceased. Then I got my brother Roy lives in Roanoke.

Susannah: And did your parents stay around here or did they move too?

Naomi: No, well my dad died when mother was six months pregnant with me and I told you I'm the baby. My dad drowned. So mother, she stayed around. She stayed 41:00around for years until she moved with this family from Blacksburg. She moved with this family who were a German couple from Germany. They had children, he was a professor, and he took a job in New York and they had just had--they had three children. The one was the baby and they was looking for somebody to be a housekeeper. So, my mother went with them to New York and then she ended up in Georgia. My mother was here--not in Pulaski but over in Wake Forest--for years until she moved away with the family. Mother was up in her maybe seventies when 42:00she went with the Bartmans[[41:52]] to New York. Of course, my mother passed. She was in Baltimore, Maryland with my sister. She was sick, she had developed Leukemia, and so she was there with her when she passed. But we brought her back to Wake Forest to bury her.

Susannah: You did?

Naomi: Um-hm. Right beside my dad. My dad's buried there.

Susannah: So do you go back to Wake Forest?

Naomi: Yeah, I go. As a matter of fact, I was over there this past Sunday. I was over there for church. Yeah, I go over there.

Susannah: So you still go to church over there?

Naomi: No, no, no. I was going to a church here. We decided to start going here because things happened. Okay, I'm in the church called the United Holy Church 43:00of America. So the church I was in here, they decided they wanted to get out of that body. That's why I couldn't go there anymore so we go to a church in Woodlawn, Virginia and it's in our same faith.

Susannah: So do you have a favorite teacher from Christiansburg Institute that you remember?

Naomi: Yeah, I do. I remember Mr. Holmes, my government teacher. His name was Zimri Holmes, and he was a good teacher. He was just a nice man, a nice Christian teacher man. I liked him a whole lot. I think he was my favorite. I mean, the other teachers, they were okay but I liked him. I mean they were good 44:00teachers, yeah.

Susannah: Why did you like him the best?

Naomi: I liked going to his class because he had such a nice attitude about him and his voice and tone. He always spoke to you in a nice tone. He was kind. I mean, I can see him now. He was just a kind man. He was a good teacher, too, and he knew government. Back then we had nigger history government and--it was history, but he was the government teacher--and then we had United States Government, and I remember those two well. He always had a smile on his face and 45:00he was just a nice teacher. A nice, pleasant tone. If he got mad at you, he didn't really raise his voice, you know? And I think everybody respected him, too. I did. They respected Mr. Holmes because he showed respect for the students and we showed respect to him, also. Well, I tried to show respect to all my teachers. I wouldn't disrespect any of them. But, he was just that type of man.

Susannah: Yeah. Do you remember any teachers that you didn't like and why? You 46:00don't have to say them by name. [laughter]

Naomi: [laughter] Well, yeah, yeah. I do. One teacher that taught the beauty culture. Something she said one time that I just didn't think was very nice. But she didn't know that I felt bad. I didn't let her know that I felt bad about it. But, her, yeah I do remember her. She passed maybe two or three years ago herself. She was in a nursing home in Floyd and I saw her in Radford at the hospital. I got over it years ago, my goodness. But, I saw her at Radford hospital and she was sick and shortly after that they took her to Floyd to a nursing home. I wouldn't change anything from high school if I could--where I 47:00went and everything. We got a good education there plus we had fun. I guess you could say our school was [laughter] segregated too because we didn't have any white people there. So everybody just went to their own schools, you know. Whites went to their school and the blacks went to their school. I often wonder why 'cause in Roanoke they had--what was the name of the school? It was a black 48:00school. They made it into a middle school. Why the children from Shawsville--oh, I know why they didn't go--because Shawsville and Elliston are in Montgomery County.

Susannah: Um-hm.

Naomi: And in Roanoke, I was thinking, why didn't they go there 'cause it was closer. But that was Roanoke, Roanoke County. That's why they had to come all the way to CI. Like I said, it housed from Elliston to Shawsville, Floyd, Galax, Wytheville, Wake Forest, Radford, Pulaski, New River, just all of us went to the same school. But, that's what made it, I think, so nice. I mean, we got to meet people from other areas. I think that's why, we really did, we had a lot of fun. 49:00I know they don't do that now, we used to have--I guess they would call it field day or whatever but I know our band and all the majorettes and even the physical ed classes--children in physical ed[ucation] class. We would go, they would have a parade in Christiansburg and they would march. It wasn't no kind of holiday. I think it was a field day. I remember well marching through the town of Christiansburg. We did things, ya know. We weren't barred from doing things. They allowed us to bring our bands and things. It was really nice.

Susannah: Was that parade just for students at CI?

50:00

Naomi: Yeah. At that particular time, yeah. Our band and everything, yeah. If I can remember--now I don't want to not--say something that's not true. I know people were on the sidewalks and things watching the band play but I can't remember any other bands being there. Now Jessie might would know. I really can't. I just remember us. But I been out of high school, good lord. [laughter] I've been out of high school over fifty-some years. I have, I'm seventy-four now and got out of high school in [19]54. But, I've been out of high school for I think fifty-four years. Because I--wait a minute--I graduated in [19]54 and I 51:00was fifteen then. Now I'm seventy-four. So it's been a long time.

Susannah: So that's about--I'm trying to do the math in my head. [laughter]

Naomi: It's been a long time.

Susannah: Did you--

Naomi: 'Cause I was married for thirty-eight years.

Susannah: Thirty-eight years

Naomi: Yeah, thirty-eight.

Susannah: Do you remember if you ever went to those parades before you started at school?

Naomi: No.

Susannah: Had you ever been to CI before you started high school there?

Naomi: Yeah, we would go there. We used to have programs and plays and things there. And I had been there before I started high school for a program or something. And we had a nice auditorium. I mean it was really nice. And we had 52:00modern things and the last nice thing they did for us was build us that gym. I remember that, we had a nice gym.

Susannah: You were at school when they built you the gym?

Naomi: Um-hm, yeah, I was there when they built that nice gym for us. And I remember, I remember well. The little gym, wherever they had to play basketball, was just little, small. And I remember when they built that big gym then we could have basketball games there and everything with other students coming. Of course then we only played black teams like maybe somebody from Roanoke. When it was segregated, back then we didn't play white teams and all. Of course, things 53:00are different now. I would not trade my high school for anything because it was such an experience that I'll never forget, about going there. I was going to look--I had my class picture, I think it's somewhere in the drawer in there.

Susannah: That'd be great.

Naomi: I was going to show you.

Susannah: I'd love to see it.

Naomi: Well, I didn't--I think it's in there. I didn't--let me see.

Susannah: Okay, I'll stop this while we look for that.