I woke this morning listening to a slight drizzle of rain knocking on my window. There is a bit of a chill in the air, just enough to let the arthritis in my shoulder know that something – not sure it it is good or bad - is about to change in the weather. What a perfect morning to crawl back between the sheets with a good book! After all – I AM the only one in my neighborhood who hasn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. Tonight is “girl’s” night out with Krewe Hanover Farms and I really want to have something to talk about that has nothing to do with weeds, husbands or home owner’s associations.
However; after thinking it over a bit I realized if I get engrossed in a book right now, it will be noon before I start my day. Instead, I decided to spend my morning productively by tackling my overwhelming batch of papers that need filing. About five minutes into filing I ran across a document that I intended to publish a while back . After shoving all of the other papers back into an already overflowing, wardrobe sized crate labeled “Things to File” – I sat down at my computer to bring you the words of my Great Aunt – Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer. This essay, written by Ruth, tells of life around Speedway, West Virginia just before – during – and after WWII.
Growing up in the 30′s and 40′s in Speedway, West Virginia – By Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer
I was born September 7, 1931, during the “Great Depression.” Times then were very hard. Money was scarce and wages were low. People, who were lucky enough to have a job, found it very difficult to get their checks cashed as there was very little money in circulation. Soup and bread lines sprang up all over the country. People stood in line for hours to get a bowl of soup of loaf of bread. This was the only thing between many people and starvation.
By the time I can remember various aspects of life, those desperate years had passed and things were easier.
I grew up on a small farm in a small rural community where we always had chickens for meat and eggs, cows for milk and butter, and hogs for butchering. We had many fruit trees on our farm and my mother, who was a very industrious person, took advantage of all the good things supplied by the Lord, by canning, drying, jellying and preserving them for winter food. We, therefore, had plenty of good food to eat both summer and winter, what with the bountiful summer garden which she always laboriously grew and harvested. I never knew what it was to be hungry out without plenty of food. We, children had plenty of the “Good Food” like ham, bacon, eggs, milk, cream and home-made butter, but we thought it was great when we could get a piece of bologna, wieners, cheddar cheese or store margarine. To us, that was the good food.
One of the first homes that I can remember living in, we called “The Old Homeplace”, as the house was built for my grandmother (Eliza Ella Hancock) by her brother-in-law after the death of my grandfather. My grandmother raised 7 children in this house. It consisted of a large kitchen, parlor/bedroom, 2 bedrooms, one of which was separated from the rest of the house by a large hall. Also, there was a pantry room off from the kitchen. There was a large veranda (porch) along one side of the house and a smaller stoop (porch) in the front of the house. The door coming off from the hallway onto the front porch was lined on both sides from top to bottom with small glass window panes, which I always thought was beautiful and quite impressive looking. There were 2 long rock steps coming off from the front porch onto the lawn. Water was obtained from a spring coming out of a round hewn rock a short distance from the house. At that time there was no indoor plumbing and bathrooms were not very plentiful in the country, therefore, bathing was done in a laundry tub and an outdoor privy served for other purposes. My grandmother by this time was living in Ohio with her youngest son and his family. She had left some of her furniture at the farm and I can remember playing on an old pedal type organ which had belonged to her and also playing records on an old time phonograph which had to be turned by hand.
There was another house nearby called the “Old Allie House” which had been built by my grandmother’s brother-in-law Allen (Allen Thompson Caperton), and had been occupied by he and his wife Allie. They had no children and this house was named for his wife. Uncle Allen helped my grandmother very much after the death of her husband and survival for her and her children would have been much more difficult without his help.
After my grandmother moved to Ohio the “Old Homeplace” was left vacant and we lived in it part of the time. To me, it was always a little lonely there, I think because the family cemetery was nearby and one could look there and see one of two tall tombstones standing white and ghostly looking, especially at nighttime. I was always kind of superstitious and scared easily and thought the house might be haunted. However; let me hasten to assure you that I never saw anything that looked like a ghost. It was just too close to the cemetery for my liking.
When I was a few years old we moved into the “Old Allie House” and lived there for several years. My sister and her husband moved into the “Old Homeplace” and lived there until it was sold. We have always hated that it left the hands of the family and wish that some of the family had bought it so that we could visit and enjoy it.
End… part 1 – next part leads us into WWII era.
- Lillian Ruth Caperton Wimmer is the co-author, along with her sister Gertrude Ratliff Rowland Cook, of the recently published book Julia’s Story.
- Ruth is the youngest child of Julia Caperton. Her brother’s and sisters are: Helen Ratliff (Ford), Gertrude Ratliff (Rowland-Cook), Bessie Ratliff (Cox), Mark Wallace Ratliff Jr.
- Ruth’s mother is Julia Caperton and her father Boden Caperton. She is the granddaughter of Eliza Ella Hancock and Robert Gaston Caperton.
- The other children of Ella Hancock and Bob Caperton are – Alonzo (Lonnie) Edward , Lelia Maude, Capidocia Kate, Viola Virginia, Hallie and Robert Taylor Caperton.
- The Caperton Children are Off to School
- Julia meets Boden
- Bob Gaston Caperton and Eliza Ella Hancock
- A Stake in the Grave
The Old Homeplace – charcoal sketch by artist by Joan Rowland Landreth circa 1980