Everlina Jacobs: I Can Remember Them All
Everlina Skinner Jacobs (born 1928) kept me from 3 years old until I graduated from high school. She was who I came home to every day. She's a big part of who I am today. She recounted the following information about her life in her own words on July 6, 2016:
When I first moved to Johnsonville, I was round about 8 or 9 years old. I was in Hemingway before that. My daddy moved up here with Mr. Bub Cox. When I moved up here, Mr. Wally Generette was living right where Sammy Lee Generette's daddy lives now. There was a big house and a big pack house there. Sammy Lee Generette's grandmother, of a Miller, built that block house on that corner there. Sammy Lee's grandmother was living there. Thornton Generette still has that.
When I first moved here [to Bluefield] was in 1963. I was the first. And now there's 400 of us in here! We were living on Mr. Abraham Generette's place before that. When Pete and I first bought this place there was a wagon road in here. 'Was a tobacco barn sitting there where that pine tree is in my front yard. Mrs. Rose and them put that house over yonder later after they bought that place, but there was a 'bacca barn was between here and there. And the rattle snakes and everything else been crossing the road 'cause you can see the dirt where they're crawlin cross the road - it was a wagon road, and Mr. T. Barr used to cure tobacco in that barn. And in my yard, there was three oak trees, right three together, and we finally cut two of them out, and left one on one end and one on the other end down yonder. And I said well, we got to have the land scaped. And the man came and dissed the land up for us. And Mrs. Fleety - Mrs. Fleety Todd, I went up there to her house, and I toted the grass from her house down here to my house where they had dissed it up. That centipede grass, I toted it all down here in a box and set it out in little rows in my yard.
And then Buddy Lewis and them found out that Mr. Warren Barr was selling land up in here - lots. And they bought the land and lot where that yellow house at, him and his family. Then it was a vacant lot between me and Buddy and them. So his brother Willie Lewis come and bought that lot. I said oh, God I said, here we go, I'm all boxed in.
But anyway, Silas Davis's father, he bought a lot on the other side of where Frasier bought his lot - a gray house on that end, that last end on this side here. Mr. Silas Davis's father built a block house on that other end on the other side of the fence. I said oh, Pete I said, wish I could move my house, getting too many in here now! It wasn't nothing but just woods before that. Mr. Joe Dukes used to come up in here, and he would sell flavoring and different things like that with a little suitcase. He would have the little suitcase and would walk up in here to my house, and Booker T. and them would say, 'Ma!'
And I'd say 'what?'
'Peddlin' Pete comin!' They called Mr. Joe Peddlin' Pete. He would come in here and sell things to me and sell things to Blanche and them.
But we finally got the 'bacca barn tear down and moved. Then, Mrs. Rose Hanna and Mr. Jesse Hanna bought the lot over there where all those woods are from Mr. T. Barr's children. The first house down on that end was Mrs. Gracie - Fred and Edgar Generette's mother. She lived in that first house on that corner. All the rest of her family was in Virginia, but they built that house for her. After she died, Mr. T. Barr's wife was livin' up there. Then, my daddy bought his lot up in here, then Daddy Hamp bought a lot before you get to my daddy's house. My son Booker T. and Emma - they had that little grey house across from the corner. Willie George Hanna bought the one behind Mrs. Letha and them. They sold all the lots. What they should have done is sold two lots and built a road to the back, but they didn't do that. My sister Virginia and Cousin Betsy bought back there on the back. My brother Willie "Bubba" bought a lot back there where L. J. was living. Mr. Jeff Nesmith bought a house in front of Virginia, then Mrs. Estelle beside her. On the last in before you turn to go round the corner, Mr. Clyde Nesmith bought the one on that corner. And it just kept buildin', they kept buyin', buildin', buyin', buildin'!. Mummy - we called her Mummy - she bought one up in there and had a trailer put up on that one. Then Toonce - we called him Toonce - he had him a house. They just kept buildin' and buildin', I told Pete I'd pick up my house and just move it!
Mr. Warren Barr, his place was up in front of my church there in front of the old middle school. His house is all grown up now. They tell me a tree grew up through the house. You can't see it now. His children live on that place across the field from me.
I knew Elliot Stuckey. The only thing I know about Mr. Elliot Stuckey - when we were going to school down there, at Nazareth Church, right there across the road. Mr. Elliot Stuckey had to move that Nazareth Church from where that handicapped place is now across the street to where it is now. Where the swimming pool used to be, the school house I went to was there. It was a big old school house. It was 4, 5 rooms. We had to walk from up here - that's when I was young - we walked from over there at the crossroads at Vox Highway and Deerfield Road. We walked from there all the way down to the school house down there. Rain come - we got wet. When we get down there, they'd build a fire and dry us. If the rain catch before we get home, Mama and them would dry us. And I can remember all of that. And Mrs. Idell Eaddy lived on the other side of where we used to live. And Jim Carraway was living in a little board house where that brick house is now at that corner. And we used to walk from there down to that Nazareth Church to that school house. I was growing up but I can tell you about all of them!
The Stuckey School was built out here where the nursing home is now, where the middle school was. That was all woods, then they built that out there. Mr. L.D. Bradley taught school out there. My children went to school under Mr. Bradley. My children were big then. They went to the 8th grade, then they went downtown after that, after desegregation. I'm 87 years old, but things I can know are what I know about. I don't know everything though so don't ask me! I can tell you a lot of things if I can remember it!
I went to school to the 8th grade, cause that's how far it went. I could have gone back to school, but I went to work when I was 17 years old. My cousin Luthereen was working at the hospital in Hemingway, and she got me a job down there and I worked down there for a while. Daddy and them was farming on Bill Marsh's place down there near Red Hill. I worked on the farm near all my life. I didn't go back to school - I lost a daughter then. She woulda been old as my brother if she lived. She'd've been seventy-something years old now...
When they went to put these streets in here, what they should have done is put JACOBS street, but the Lewis people had already done that before I found out. But mine was the first! So I just leave it like that. Jake Wallace and them, they built a big ol' piccolo joint down there down the road, and it stayed there for years and years until they've finally just about torn it all down.
The piccolo joints down in Johnsonville - that's been back when I was young. When the train used to run down through here they called Boll Weevil - from Hamlet to Savannah! I used to go down there, oh I was in my prime dancin' and carryin' on, when them piccolo joints was uptown there. They were right there where David Evans has his business there in Johnsonville. There was two of them right there together. Mr. Jesse Wallace ran one and Mrs. Hattie Brown had the other one. I know the people's names that used to run 'em but I don't know what they used to call 'em, we just called 'em piccolo joints! We'd fight sometimes! And those houses weren't over there like they're built up now. It was woods and stuff. That Shell station was there. That big building on the corner there, there used to be a hardware store and it sold furniture, too [Huggins Furniture].
The train would come, and we'd pay 25 cent to ride to Hemingway, 25 cent to come back. I'd catch the train many a days. It was 2 dollars and something to Savannah, Georgia. What they called the Depot was right there on the corner across from David and them's business - a great, big ol' building. The train would stop there. The bus used to stop out there at the red light there, you could catch it and go to Florence, to Lake City, now they ain't got nothing for you to ride on!
Right where the laundromat is downtown, there was a string of houses back in there, they called Tin-top Alley. And the jail was right there by the tracks where it always was.
Mr. Lurie Poston and them had one place right across from where they cut hair and stuff now [Poston Diner], and my sister and I used to be there with a couple more, and we'd be there with Miss Maisie [Poston Ballou], and Miss Maisie, we taught her how to dance! And Miss Maisie stayed down here, but Miss Uldean moved to Columbia, and different ones, and Algie, you know she died. But Mr. Lurie Poston had that place, and it was white. And the colored was down on that end where I was talking about [those piccolo joints]. We had to go in the back, until they start desegregating everything, and then we could go in the front. Before that we went in the back and ordered what we was gon' have and we came on out, we didn't stay in there. I tell you, we taught Maisie and them how to dance! Uldean, Algie, and and Miss Maisie, all we would go in there and we'd be cleaning up at night, and the little piccolo would be in there - a little juke box - and we'd teach them how to dance. Miss Maisie laughed and me one day when she saw me at the bank, and she said 'well Lord, look-a here!' and I said 'yes, this Everlina!'
Now - is she still living? No? And Algie. Mmm… Them was the good ol' days. Now I'm sitting here in a wheelchair, wishing I could get out in that yard. But it's too hot right now. I get out there under that tree when it's cool, but now - I'm not getting anywhere next out there. It's too hot!
Yes, I was one of the founding members of my church. I'm tellin' you now! White Chapel started down there on the corner when you turn cross that railroad where you go passed Nazareth Church. They established the church at Bluefield - Mrs. Anna White and her husband - they started that church. Mr. Ben Green and them - they're all dead now. That's why they named it White Chapel, because Mrs. Anna White and them started it in an old house. There used to be a lot of houses over there near Nazareth 'time as you cross that railroad, where the tennis courts at the middle school are now, and they started it down there. I remember all that - Mr. Ben Green, Mrs. Abbey Turner, I can name 'bout everybody that was in there. They're all dead and gone. They bought that lot up here from Mr. Warren Barr, and they put White Chapel Church at the end of the road where that trailer is now [Midway Highway at White Chapel Road]. And then Sammy Generette and them finally bought that lot over there by the old middle school and built the new church over there.
I worked for Mr. Gid Haselden and Emily Haselden. He ran the grocery story right up on the corner there. They had a little house out there for me with a little bed there. Iva Reid would come out there and she'd tell me everything. We'd talk and talk and talk. That's been years ago! WAY back yonder! Back when Hazel came through. They told me to come on in to the stove, and I was soaked like a rat! We were moving those groceries around, and those windows been blowing out - I was shaking!
I cooked for them, and his youngest daughter Iva Reid, she was up a big size girl when I kept her, until she went off to college. Reid said she was gonna tell her family about getting married at Sunday dinner. Lottie new it too and she said let's make a coconut cake. Me and Mr. Gid's daughter-in-law Miss Lottie, we messed around and messed around and got them all to the table because Mr. Gid wasn't keen on Iva Reid marrying. He wouldn't talk to that child's husband, and I bet you we went to the store 3 times to get a coconut to make that coconut cake for them, and every time I'd bust that coconut open it would be rotten! And we cooked that coconut cake and fixed that dinner, and we got them in there, and he still wouldn't look at that boy, and by the time we were finished with that dinner, he was talking to that boy. It was Carlisle, and Ken, and Hubert - those were Mr. Haselden's sons. And we had them all together, and Wilma and her husband and Iva Reid. I can remember it just as good. Mr. Haselden was sitting at the end of the table. We had a big beautiful dinner that Sunday!
Ghost stories, I've got some - you want me to run again, ay? I was working for Mr. Haselden then. I went up town that Saturday - I got dressed. There was a crowd of us, down there at that piccolo joint downtown by the Boll Weevil depot. Me and my girlfriend - she was cooking for Mr. Homer Venters, and me for Mr. Haselden. Sarah was working for Percy Poston, and my sister was working for Lurie Poston, Miss Maisie's daddy. Lucy and Rachel, all we was working for different people. Milton, Maggie, all of us. And I didn't want nobody to go with me, my boyfriend wanted to take me, but I didn't want nobody to take me home. Where we was living, we had to walk 'round the edge of the field and go to the house if we didn't want to walk up the road and then come up to the house. I always walked 'round the field. There was a biiiig ol' oak tree out there. It's still out there, sittin there. And the moon was shining, you could see somebody in front of you just like light. And I see Uncle Lawrence in front of me, going up to Mr. Bill Marsh's house, cause we lived back there at Bill Marsh and J.B.'s place back there. And we had oak trees all around that place. Before I get to this oak tree - where my sister Vi lives now over in Belleview Circle - they used to call that the Mill Quarters. They had little houses built all in there. There was a man died used to live in there, an old big man. I was kinda scared of him. And we walked down by that oak tree to go down the hill, walked cross the railroad, to go over to the Mill Quarters. He used to sit by that oak tree. And when I passed it that night, seem like the hair stood up on me, and I got so scared. And I keep lookin back. Milton and them had gone home and I was just walking alone. My friend Gracie was in the hospital, and her brother had told me I could go with him the next day to visit her, and I'd told him yes, I'd go the next day. She had sent for me two or three times and I was thinking about that.
I got near that big tree, that tree lit up just like somebody took a Christmas tree and light it up. There was a house there - George and Louise lived there. They had a dog. That little dog barked when I passed him. I wasn't far from my house. I was singin' and carryin' on - I didn't want nobody with me! I look cross the field and I could see everything, and I knew darn well there wasn't nobody. I heard that little dog barkin' back at that house. I looked around - thought - you reckon' somebody followin' me? I got almost to my house - and then there was 2 dogs. One was just pure white, the other was black and white. They were on either side of me! I hollered, those dogs were running between my legs, and I hollered again! Those dogs were smiling at me just like human people! I couldn't get that white dog off me to save my life, so I broke off and run! My mama and daddy was in bed, and daddy had it fixed at the door so we could go in by the kitchen, pull a string and go on in through the house - the kitchen wasn't attached. Those dogs scared me so bad I went busting right in through the front door! When I run up on that porch, I knocked that front door open and right in where my mama and daddy been! Daddy said, "I fa' tell you, you fa' stay home on Saturday night, no, y'all gotta go frolicking on Saturday night." And I got my parents, and I went back to that door - oak trees all around that house. I'm looking out that door and looking at those little dogs, and my daddy ain't seen them and he ain't seen them to this day. Only I see them out there. Because they wasn't nothing but ghosts! And there wasn't a soul out there but Gracie, who had died at the hospital, and that old big man at that oak tree. They been those little dogs runnin me. And now when somebody's sick and they send for me, I come!
And that's all I can remember! Haha! I've got a good remembrance, thanks the Lord. I praise His righteous holy name, because I might not remember this otherwise! But I'm getting one of those motor wheelchairs, I'm gonna ride that little thing around town! I've got one sitting here, they give me, so I can learn how to drive it.
And I kept you and Zach, and y'all were my own boys! Y'all was mine because I raised you! I tell everybody you're mine. Still have all your pictures back there, every one. But Zach had to ask to go anywhere! Mr. Joe brought you and Zach here because Zach told him he had to come ask me if he could go somewhere, and I said Zach that's your Grandaddy, you can go with him! The first time I saw you you ran and got between your Granny's legs because you were scared of me, but Zach jumped right on my hip. He couldn't say Everlina, so he called me Ha-Hayne. You remember that? Ooo! Haha! And I would sleep right between you when I kept you - here come one on one side, here come one on the other side! I 'clare y'all had to sleep there! Your mother had a guitar out at one of those birthday parties one day and she said, I want you to help me sing 'Comin Up On the Rough Side Of the Mountain' because I used to sing that for y'all in the kitchen when I'd bring my tape player over there.
Lord, those were the good old days, and we're far apart now, ain't we? But they always say look forward, don't look back - look to the hills! But they sure were good!
- stories recounted to Josh Dukes on July 6, 2016 and over the previous years