Bob grew up in Clintonville and went only year to Bolling High School before dropping out to work. Louise, born in Ronceverte, went to Bolling for a year and finished her degree at a black school in Charleston. They married and raised their family in Ronceverte in a house they still live in today.
Bob: like I was walking along the highway one day going home. Three boys from Georgia, or Florida, was drinking three white boys.
One stopped and said “you want to ride?” and they were strangers to me. I said “yeah.” I went to open the door and they sped off. Then they stopped started calling me names and threatened to beat me up. Don't you know I had to find rocks along the ditch where I was walking to throw at them? To keep them from beating me up. So finally, they get tired of me throwing rocks at them and they left.
From the stoplight out to your left all that was black areas of Ronceverte. I talked to a guy he dead now. An older white fella. He’s Repco the ice plant. We made, you know, blocks of ice and stuff. And he would deliver ice to the businesses. He was telling me about making deliveries all over Ronceverte. He said yeah “I delivered ice up n-----r town.” I’d tell you. “Yeah I delivered ice up n-----r town.” That’s what he called that end. I guess all the older white people said that called it that.
Bob: There's another business that was in Ronceverte for years. Miss Emma Peyton.
Louise: Oh, shoo Bo she don’t want to talk about that.
Bob: She was a bootlegger. She was in business for years.
Louise: Bob, leave that alone. She don’t want to hear that one.
Bob: I mean, you couldn't walk down the street with all the people who were drunk. You know, all the winos and drunks. She had a business going on, I’m telling, and the police knew about it, and I think she paid them off. And whenever they come to raid her the police would inform her. The local police. Oh, she had a gambling joint too I forgot that. She had a gambling joint up there upstairs up three floors on the main street and she sold liquor. She sold food. She sold wine and then she had a big gambling games going up there. She would get a certain percent of the winnings and she was from down south originally. I used to haul her trash. Yeah she’d pay me good.
Sarah: Sounds like a big business.
Bob: It was. It was. The police didn't bother like I said. As long as there was no fight or anything. I remember two women got in a fight down there. They stopped the traffic down there in the intersection. They walled around the street. They had to call for backup. I’d tell you.
Louise: Yeah, the people from off off from Brushy Ridge on Saturdays. When they’d come over and do their shopping then they would end up going there. Sitting in her place, gambling and drinking. That was just a place for them to come to town on Saturday some of them do their shopping and take the groceries home and then come back and they got their paydays and they'd have fun down.
Bob: That's the only place they’d have to go you know.
Bob: They always looking at this history. You see history family history. Well, I don't know a lot cause you see older people didn't talk to their kids and tell them anything about the past. A lot of things were kept secret. And when you were around old people, you didn't say nothing unless they ask you something. You had to keep your mouth shut. Yeah. See, I was 16 and coming up, younger than 16. You don't think about ancestry or history of your people. You know, you got playing on your mind or something else on your mind games or whatever. And after I grew up, I began to wonder, you know. My dad said he was raised in Lynchburg, Virginia. Then my kids, through their investigations, found out he was adopted. And the people I thought was my aunt wasn’t really related to me, but I used to stay with them during the summer down in Powhatan, West Virginia.
But, a lot of things that I took for granted probably isn't true.
You know, during slavery when you get so low and everything. Kids and mothers, we don't know who we are related to or not related to really. If you even want to think about it slavery beginning of slavery. We were treated like animals, horses and cattle sold off. So who knows who's related to who?
Just thank the lord you still got a roof over our heads. Something to eat. And we don't hold grudges. At least I don’t. You know, but the memories still there, the thoughts still there. You can't erase those. You cant erase those memories.
Growing up in Clintonville
Bob: Well, about how we moved it to Clintonville during World War Two. And when I was about six years old, my dad bought 116 acres out there in Clintonville. And I went to a one room schoolhouse, which was I walked three miles a day through the woods to get to it back and forth for eight years and told them the highest amount of children in the school with eight children We had to carry water from spring. We had outhouses. Potbellied stove in the third floor, the three two rows of seats on each side and blackboard one teacher who taught from the first to the eighth grade. You know, we had to invent our own games at recess.
It was, but it was fun. And back then when you went home, you had work to do. lots of work. Cutting wood dragging wood with the horse and didn't have chainsaws then. We would use a bucksaw and a crosscut saw. I mean, you always had to be busy. But that was life back in the country. You know.
I used to out in the coal fields, I'd see kids playing ball at a ball down we would pass by I wanted to play ball so bad. l. Sometimes my daddy would let me spend five or 10 minutes with. Not long enough to catch onto things.
But that’s some of my childhood like this. It's been a struggle. You know, people never. People never forgot to let you know what color you were. And that you were a second or third class citizen. That's something you never forgot. You live that every day. It's just the way things were.
Bob: When School Integrated. Well me and Phyllis this was our first child going to a school an integrated school. I was afraid we were afraid for her safety. And don’t you know, they didn't have any problem at all down there. White Sulphur raised more sin than anybody else. They had marches. They had marches, demonstrations over White Sulphur because of school of school integration.
See, we didn’t know, but that's part of life.
Yeah, things begin to get better after that course people didn't want the school integration. They didn't want their white kid mixing in with the black kids. They’re against that. You know what? When a baby is born, I don't care who’s it is. They don't know anything about prejudice. They don't care what color you are. You ever see two little kids play together? Do they? Do they care what color the other one is? Do they?
Bob: That come from older people. From slavery, they let the slaves cook from them, clean their houses.
Even the men, they had babies by the slaves. Still, we're still the lowest class of people.