The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Love 1919

By Nancy B. Collins © 1987

Issue: February, 1987

When we moved away from Meadows of Dan to Danville, Virginia in 1915, I was very young, around 14 years old. We got settled very comfortably and some of the family found jobs in different places. My mom and two oldest sisters went to work in the mill. I had five sisters and one brother. I was the third from the oldest.

My dad ran the house and handled all the money that came in. Every spring he and my brother would go back to the mountains and stay until the weather got cold and then he would come back and take over. We almost dreaded to see him come back, as he was so hard on us girls and Mom.

While my dad was gone, my mom was very lenient on us girls. She would try to see that we kept decent company as far as she could. When I became 15, she would let me have some boy friends.

My second boy friend brought me nice gifts and asked me to marry him. I told him I did not love him and I could not marry him and he was sad and took all the gifts back and left.

My third boyfriend liked to kiss and love me and Mom caught him and that was the last of him.

My fourth was a cute guy named Ben. I really cared for him a lot. I went to see a girl friend that had a sister that had a young baby. When I went in, Ben was rocking the cradle and talking to the baby's mother, and that was all for me.

I had just about given up on ever having another boy friend, but I was almost 16 years old and still liked boys and hoped I would have better luck than I had been having.

My dad got me a job in the mill and said he needed more money to run things. I had been working about three weeks when a young man came in my department and got a job as time keeper in the big office. His name was Adrien Collins. I had seen him with the big boss out on the floor, looking the place over.

I thought he was good looking and hoped I could meet him sometime. Before I knew what was going on, I got a chance to meet him.

Friday was payday and he came down to my work to tell me my dad had drawn my money at the office. He told me the boss asked him to come to my work and tell me as he did not like to see me come up in the line and not get my money.

I began to cry and he said he was so sorry he had to tell me about what had happened. He said a pretty girl like me should not have to cry about anything. He stayed at my work and talked a while and asked me if he could come back and see me again. I said I guess so.

I was so afraid I would not see him again. I thought he was good looking and dressed nice. I loved him already.

When he got his work caught up the next day, he came back to my work and we talked. I told him I was even thinking about running away and leaving home. He said that is the worst thing you can do. He said the sun doesn't shine in one place all the time, neither does gloom. He said please don't do anything I would be sorry for later. He leaned over and kissed my hand. He said promise? And I said yes. He laughed and said he would see me again. I was so afraid I would say or do something that he would not come back and see me. I guess I did not, because he came back every day when he got his work caught up.

He asked me if he could come over to my house and see me and I said I doubted if my dad would let him come to see me. He said to ask my dad anyway.

I asked the next evening and Dad said I was too young to date men. I said, "Well I guess I would see him some way," and my dad said shut up, he did not want to hear any of my sass. He finally said Adrien could come to the house, but my sisters would have to be in the room when I dated.

I told Adrien the next day and he said that was all right with him. He said he could handle my sisters all right. That was Wednesday.

He came Saturday night, looking like a million dollars. My sisters were in the living room all the evening. They played Rook and other games. My dad met Adrien at the door and finally asked him to come in. My dad had long whiskers and looked like a real mountain man. He asked Adrien all about himself and finally went on in his room.

My dad's room was just across the hall from the living room. The doors never were closed from either room. He had his hunting guns sitting in the corner where everyone could see them. He wanted everyone to be afraid of him.

Adrien and I sat in a love seat, but we did not sit close together, as we knew that was a no no. When my sisters got to fussing about who was playing fair, we would hold hands. Some times they would catch us, but they would just laugh and say watch it.

One Sunday evening Adrien came a little early while my dad was still eating his supper. I was looking for Adrien and opened the door to let him in. He did not see my dad around and he held me in his arms and kissed me. When we went in the living room, he asked me if I would marry him. I said yes, but I doubted if that could happen. My dad would say I was too young to marry. Adrien said we would talk about it the next day.

The next day Adrien came down to my work and we talked. He said he would get off from work one day and go over and talk to Dad about it. We knew we would have to have his consent before we could marry, as I was under age.

Adrien said if Dad did not give his consent, we could run away and go over in North Carolina and get married, as they did not have the same laws over there. So, we went to work on our plans.

One day Adrien got off from his work a half day and went over to see my dad and talked with him. He said Dad was fairly nice, but said I was too young to get married, but finally said yes, but he would have to go to Chatham with him to get the license. They made plans to go in the next two weeks.

When I got home that evening, my family were all eating supper. I did not want to hear what any of them had to say, so I started to slip on up stairs to my room. But Dad heard me and said, "Nancy, get on in here and eat your supper." I said I was not hungry. He said, "Get on in here."

The first thing he said hurt my feelings bad. He said, "Nancy, are you going to marry that jackass that was over here today talking to me?" I said I sure hoped so and the family laughed. He said all the nasty, mean things he could say and went on out.

My mom said not to worry, everything would be all right. She said she thought he was a real nice gentleman.

The next day I asked my dad for some money to buy a few things with for my wedding. He gave me $3.00 and said that is all I have to spare and be glad you got that. I cried because I did not have hardly any clothes at all.

Mom knew about how things were. She said she had a little money tucked away and she would share it with me. She had some chickens and sold eggs. She also had a cow and sold milk and butter that my dad did not know about.

I took $20.00 and said I would see what I could do with it.

My two sisters went with me down town to a store that our dad bought our things at. The manager and owner was a good man and understood how we girls had been treated. My dad always bought our clothes in the basement of the store as cheep as he could get them and picked them out himself.

My sister ran ahead of me and told the store owner that I was getting married and wanted to buy some wedding clothes. He said how much money have you got. I told him I had $23.00 and he told a clerk to help me pick out what I needed and he would see what he could do. I picked out a suit and a dress, some nice slippers, some silk hose (which I had never had), some nice underwear and gowns, a skirt and a pretty blouse, a fur neck piece, a little makeup, such as they used in those days.

The clerk called the manager and showed him what I had picked out and he said, "My goodness, do you expect me to give you all that for twenty dollars?" I said, "You told me to pick out what I needed and wanted." He scratched his bald head and told the clerk to wrap it up for me. I cried and he hugged me and wished me well.

That was Wednesday. I married the next Saturday evening at home with all my family standing around. Mom had a room all fixed for us and we stayed there for a good while.

Adrien got a job working for the government and we bought a house and lived in it a few years. In the space of two years, we had two fine children. We built a larger house, the one that I live in today.

We lived many happy years. We had many ups and downs, but almost failed some times when we had so many obligations, but that is another story. Adrien passed away when he was 80 years old. That has been about 10 years ago.

I am 83 years old now and still able to look after myself and our home. My children have their own families and are gone, but not far away. They are good to me.