Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some of Nellie Godfrey's Childhood Memories

Ruth Virginia "Nellie" Godfrey, born in 1916, was the youngest child of Tom and Bridget (Heater) Godfrey. Late in her life she wrote down some of her memories for as a legacy to her children Patsy, Larry, Nancy and to Jimmie and Margie who are deceased.

Her document includes her history of Orlando, a list of the people who lived in Orlando in her day, and anecdotes from her early years. Here are her anecdotes.

By Ruth Virginia Godfrey
We moved to Orlando in 1918 from a log house on Grass Run, where Necie Freeman later lived. That’s the house where I was born. Mike Moran sold my parents the house behind the Catholic Church where he paid four dollars taxes and sold it for $500. It was set close to the creek and my mom’s brother-in-law moved it up further away from the creek. It was a three room house.

Left: Young Nellie Godfrey
I don’t know where everyone slept: Gertie, Mary, Lena, Agnes, Robert, Wilda, Edward and me. Then Lena married Earl Copeland and moved out, Mary married Greer Salisbury and Gertie married Jess Stevens. Agnes went to stay with Uncle Rye and Aunt Necie, up Posey Run. My Uncle Rye [Uriah] and his wife Necie lived up Posey Run, just a little house above where Grafton Riffle lived. They never had any children and they needed help so mom sent us girls to stay. Minnie wouldn’t go because she didn’t like Aunt Necie. So Agnes went and she stayed with them all the time. Uncle Rye liked her. He called her Aggie. I don’t remember Robert staying at the house much. He run around a lot.

Left: brother Edward, Nellie, nephews Junior and Frank Copeland with brother-in-law Earl Copeland's auto.

Maybe Akron
When I was about nine or ten my sister Minnie and her husband came and got us, Mom and Dad and Edward and I, to Akron. I don’t remember where Wilda went. We stayed bout three months. I guess they decided they didn’t want us so they brought us home.

We didn’t have anything to eat. The water had been up in the house and all our mattresses were wet so we stayed with my Aunt Duck until they got the house dried out and Bill Henline took up a collection at Charlie Knight’s store for food and we finally got back on our feet. Mom took in washing to buy food for us. At that time five pounds of sugar was 25 cents, flour about 50 cents and coffee about 25 cents.

Early Memories
I had a good mother. Every morning we’d have oats, syrup and biscuits, sometimes rice. She’d keep me a biscuit on top of the wood stove. It would be raw in the middle. I still like them like that, and my son likes them too. They called me “dough belly.” [When they made biscuits there was always some dough left. Grandma had a little iron skillett and she would put grease or lard in it and fry it for mom. Mom still did that all down through the years, -Pat Reckart]

When I was young I went to see Grandma [Mary Jane (Skinner)] Godfrey with Mom. She always had a piece of peanut butter candy in her apron pocket for me.
Right: Bridget (Heater) Godfrey, Nellie's mom.
Left: Mary Jane (Skinner) Godfrey, daughter of Alexander and Phoebe (Conrad) Skinner, and giver of peanut butter candy, with her husband David Newton Godfrey.

I had polio when I was three years old. When I was five, Mom took me to a hospital in Fairmont to have me fitted for a brace. I cried and cried. I didn’t want to stay. It was the first time I was way from her and home. Greer and Mary lived at Clarksburg and Mom stayed with them. I couldn’t wear the brace so Mom gave it to Burt Skinner’s girl who had polio too.

School Days

Then when I was seven I started school. My brother went when I did in the same room but in a different grade. I remember one book I first had was about Baby Ray. We had to go up a long pair of steps along the hill, beside Mike Moran’s house. I couldn’t get up the steps very good and Jess Riffle [who married Pres Bragg] would step on my heels. My first teacher was Mrs. Pinger. She come out from Weston on the 8 o’clock train and went back on the 5 o’clock train. Once, she had a package of spearmint gum laying on the desk and I took it. I don’t know how she knew that I took it. She made me stand up in front of the class and give it back. I was ever sorry.

Right: The Elson Reader Book One is the book with the Baby Ray story. Click on the book to seek a copy of this beautiful book.

Then Mrs. Inez Canfield was the teacher in the little room. And Mildred Heater, she boarded with the Allmans. Inez Canfield boarded with Charlie Givens and Hallie. Mike Moran liked her a lot.

Edward and I got the mumps after we come home. We took them off Rexall Salisbury. The teachers Inez Canfield and Mildred (Heater) Allman brought us bananas and other stuff, I think. Was ashamed for them to come. We didn’t have a very nice house at that time.

Then Wilda caught the mumps from Edward and I. Wilda wasn’t very well. I think she had the measles. She had a real high fever and her nose started bleeding and Mom couldn’t get it stopped. She sent Robert over to Frank Riffle’s and he read a verse in the Bible and her nose stopped bleeding. She didn’t go to school very much Mom kept her home to help her wash.

Rigth: Wilda Godfrey
Left: Eolin "Oley" Cox in his early years of teaching.
Oley Cox was the first man teacher in the big room. Minnie went to him when she stayed with Lena while Earl worked away. Ira Heard taught the big room after that and he boarded with Alva Barnett. Then Hans Wade. He always opened school with a scripture reading and a prayer. Then Lawrence Wetzel, I went to him. His wife taught in the middle room. They had rooms at Ollie Blake’s. They lived at Walkersville.

[My brother] Edward and Short Bennett had pocket knives and they was cutting up their tables but she took the knives away from them. Edward went home and told Mom. She met Miss Hammer on the bridge and made give her the knife.

Then Mrs. Whetzel taught the middle room and her husband taught the big room. Then I went to the big room. On Valentines Day I went home for lunch and Fred Henline and Ed Ocheltree was coming behind me. They had a rope and said they was going to lasso me. I got scared and there was a coal pile there. I picked a piece of coal and throwed it. It hit Ed across the nose. I went home and told Mom what happened and I wouldn’t go back to school so she went up to school and told Mr. Whetzel. He told her to tell me to come back and he wouldn’t whip me. I went back. He kept all three of us after school. He asked me if I wouldn’t do any more. I told him if they tried to lasso me I’d do it again. The Ocheltrees lived in the house by the church. His sister Virginia was my friend, but not after that. They left Orlando without speaking to me.

The last year I had Dudley Goodrich. He taught in the big room. Edna Marple taught in the middle room and Ernestine Hyre taught in the little room. Dudley and Edna was dating then. That was my last year in school. I’m sorry I quit. I really made a big mistake.

Left: Ernestine Hyer in her early years. Later she married Charley Tulley and taught at the Three Lick school. For more about Ernestine (Hyre) Tulley see the Oct '07 entry Mrs. Tulley and the Three Lick School

Tales Retold
Mom said when they lived on Grass Run Russ Riffle and his wife lived above them somewhere. They had trouble of some kind and she came down to have it out with my mom and dad. When she came to the door my dad had been cutting meat and he had a butcher knife in his hand. She thought he was going to use it on her and she peed herself.

I heard Mom and Dad tell about Uncle Rye. Uncle Rye was rabbit hunting and he chased one into a hole. Uncle leaned down to look and there was a skunk in the hole. The skunk peed in Uncle’s face. He had to pee in his hands and wash his eyes out.

They used to have horse trader reunions over by Charlie Knight’s store. Mom’s brother would come to our house to eat, and they brought their slave. Mom fed him same as her brother and he played the fiddle. He was Hoover’s slave from Burnsville. They freed the slaves, but he still stayed because he liked them and they was good to him.

In the 1930s when the trains were still going through Orlando people used to gather on Saturdays and Sundays to watch the people changing trains. My dad was over there one time. Maggie and Winnie Posey, who were married to brothers, from Clover Fork had been feuding. The little woman had a baby on her hip and the bigger woman told the little woman that if she didn’t have the kid on her hip she’d whip her. The little woman said, “Well, don’t let that stop you” and she set the kid down and whipped the bigger woman and broke one of her fingers. My dad came home laughing.

This is Nellie, about 22 years old, with her mom Bridget and her son James Morrison.

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