The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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

Childhood Memories of Macy Mae Goad Williams

Preserved By Her Granddaughter, Janice Kinsler Smith © 1990

Issue: May, 1990

Notes of Janice Kinsler Smith... Macy Mae Goad, the third child of John Anderson Goad and Octavia Webb Goad, was born June 9, 1898 at Fancy Gap, Carroll County, Virginia. Her grandparents were Elder Isaac Webb and Malesia Jane Martin Webb, and James Fountain Goad and Hannah Webb Goad.

Macy grew up in Fancy Gap. She married Preston Williams of Meadows of Dan, Christmas Day, 1914. They ventured to Washington, D.C. where they raised five children.

Macy must have inherited her father's artistic ability. When she died the minister at her funeral commented that each of us had memories of her in each room of our homes. How true.

She was best known for her extensive doll collection. Over the years she collected many dolls and carefully dressed each one attending to the finest detail. Petticoats were finely embroidered even though they would not even show.

Everything was attended to with love and care. Even her meals were wonderful creations. She passed on many of her wonderful talents to her descendants. I spent many long hours with her on the front porch swing learning to knit, crochet, etc.

She died in 1979 and only recently when her son John was cleaning the attic, he found notebooks containing memories, thoughts on events in her life, and letters never sent. No one ever saw any of these writings until recently. The following are some of her memories of Fancy Gap and her childhood.

We lived on a farm; my father, mother and eight children. Our house was large to hold the family. It had eight rooms. The house was painted white, trimmed with green.

We had fireplaces and oil lamps. The white picket fence ran all around the house except at one corner where a smoke house was built to keep the meat and eatables in the winter. It had hams hanging from the rafters and barrels of molasses and pickles sitting on the dirt floor with vegetables that were easy to keep.

If you wanted a good breakfast, you could get it at our house. My mother would have slices from those hams and maybe gravy. Oh, yes, molasses and she always made biscuits.

It was just beautiful in the summertime, with the cattle grazing in the green fields and the corn waving its golden tassels in the sun.

The memories that I recapture today include the scene of a rustic barn that sheltered the cattle at night, and held the hay and feed for the cattle. My father built it himself in Fancy Gap, Virginia [Carroll County] on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was very close to the house but outside the picket fence. Around the house was an apple orchard, and under the trees was green grass dotted with white and yellow daisies. The black heart cherry trees were very close to the fence. They stood so high that when I stood below, I felt very small. When I looked up at the top, it looked like they grew right into the blue sky.

I remember father had a favorite tree that he would rest under for a while when he came home from work at noon for his lunch. It was one of those big cherry trees. I had many happy hours playing around him while he rested in the shade of this great tree.

I carried drinking water to my father and brother when they were working in the fields. Sometimes the pail had a piece of ice in the water to keep it cool. I got the ice from the icehouse that my father and brothers made under the ground to keep the ice in the summer time. In the winter when the weather got the coldest and froze the creek thick enough, they would chop large squares of ice and store them in the icehouse to use in the hot weather.

The creek ran through our meadow, and in the summer just after a hard rain storm, I have seen the whole meadow covered with muddy water.

We didn't have a wood house. Where we chopped the wood, we called it a wood pile. That's where they stored the wood for winter. Some of it they just piled up and others were stood on the ends and looked like Indian teepees.

The boys kept the kitchen wood box filled for the stove for cooking. My father usually brought in the wood for the fireplaces at night. We had five fireplaces to keep us warm and oil lamps for our light.

We had a chestnut orchard that supplied us with enough chestnuts for our school shoes. On rainy days the chestnuts would fall fastest. We could hear the sound of the chestnuts falling. We always gathered them on rainy days before the leaves covered them up, for when the rain brought down the chestnuts, they also brought down the brown leaves. When we carried our full sacks home to mother, she was very pleased that we had accomplished so much, for we had about all that we could carry. Mother kept enough chestnuts that we had chestnut roasts sometimes in the winter or just boiled them. They were just as good that way too.

My father was a farmer and had to haul his produce twenty miles to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Cabbage was the main crop that he could sell, almost the only one. It would take a day and a half to make the trip. Mr. Henry Webb and father made a trip together to take their produce to town. His daughter and I had been begging to make a trip with them, and they decided to make arrangements for us to go. I never saw so many houses in my life. When we arrived in Mt. Airy, we slept in the wagon at night, and our fathers did the cooking. Did you ever eat wagon mush? Well, believe me, it was good. They made it by frying bacon and crumbling corn bread in the pan when the meat had been fried.

My mother would always give my father a list of things to buy. Sometimes he would buy a whole bolt of white material for sheets and pillow cases.

My mother did the sewing and made sheets and pillow cases herself. She was also a good writer but only wrote for small religious magazines.

Clarissa was my oldest sister. She went to school and helped my mother with the housework. I have heard them say that they sent Clarissa to the store with a basket of eggs and butter. We grew most of the things that we ate but took butter and eggs to the country store to swap or sell for coffee, salt, soda, rice, etc. sometimes we had enough left over to get enough material for a cotton check shirt or a dress. On this occasion she got as far as the chestnut orchard and saw a big bird sitting on a limb. She sat her basket down to get it. Well I don't know where she got the owl, but the owl got her. She had to return home to get help to get released from the owl. I was so small that I don't remember this. I was only eight years old when she was married. I do remember that she had a beau. She would send me after the mail which was a mile away. If she received a letter from him, I would yell for her to come get the mail. If she did, I would run, and she would have to catch me. If she didn't, I would tear it up and throw it down. I don't know yet why my mother let me do this naughty thing to my sister for she was always extra good to me. She married the young man and moved to Johnson City, and it was lonely for her.

Daniel, my dear brother, wanted to be on his own and struck out to do so one day. He went to Keystone, West Virginia to work. A day or two later when I came home from school, his overshoes were on our front porch. I was so happy for this could mean one thing: that he was inside the house. He must have come on the train that afternoon. We lived fifteen miles from the train. On a still evening we could stand in our front yard and hear the train running on the track and whistling.

I was the third child. All my brothers and sisters and I had to walk to school one mile from home. It was a one room school house with a pot belly stove in the center of the room. Some days we were very cold and put the benches as close around the stove as possible. We had only one teacher. In those years, we had very bad winters with lots of snow. The snow drifts would be higher than the telephone poles. On our way to and from school we would walk all over those high snow drifts. If those drifts hadn't been solid, I have wondered what would have happened to us. Perhaps slide down under and stay until spring.

While going to school I drew a large picture of a vase of flowers with crayons. The teacher tacked it on the wall. After I was married and living in Washington, D.C. for 25 years, we passed the school house on one of our vacations. It wasn't being used any more, but we stopped our car and looked in the window. The picture was still hanging on the wall. At this time the school has been torn down and a fine brick building built on the very spot that we had gathered so many times at Cross Road School. I was very sad on my last day at school.

I suppose that Isaac Booker was self-educated for when he went to school the first day, the teacher sent him home with a note asking our parents to buy him a fourth reader, speller, Virginia History, geography and arithmetic. When he was such a little fellow every time he saw a word or letter, he asked what it was. I think he learned most of what he knew from the kitchen walls. Mother kept the kitchen walls papered with newspapers and when we had our meals, he sat on a bench behind the table close to the wall, and he was more interested in the words than he was eating. He taught at two schools by the time that he was 18 years old. Then he came up to Washington and went to work with the Transit Company. When he retired from work, he was vice president of the Transit Company.

Our parents sent us to singing schools. It didn't do me much good, but my brother Clinton was a very good songster and taught singing himself. Some nights we all gathered around the oil lamp and before the fireplace with a roaring fire. Fireplaces were all the heat we had, but I never knew anyone that kept such big roaring fires as my father did. All the family took part in the singing, but Mother and Clinton were the best. We sure enjoyed those evenings with the whole family taking part.

People began to call him to sing at so many special occasions that they formed a quartet [Posey Webb], Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Burnett and Clinton Goad who lived in Hillsville, Virginia. They sang together at various get-togethers and named themselves the Blue Mountain Quartette. They had a weekly radio program. They sang old-time hymns and ballads to shut-ins. He was called everywhere to sing. I loved to hear him sing and have a few records that they made. Clinton made a few records with mother. She was such a good songster, and I could hear her voice above all the rest when I was going to church. The ones that got to church before the preaching began sang until it was time for the preaching. Sometimes it seems like I can almost hear her singing. Oh, but if I only could hear that wonderful voice again.

[Clinton also formed the Golden Valley Quartette which included himself, Marie Rotenizer, alto; Roy Martin, tenor; and Early Banks, Bass. Mrs. Earlene Webb played the piano for them. They were on the Hillsville radio each Saturday morning.]

Clinton did other things too. He was a security officer in the penal system, and he also took his old Ford and carried the mail for a while.

The last work that Clinton did was in an office at Hillsville, Virginia. He worked there several years, and now he is retired [1975] and is making miniature furniture.

George was a dear brother. He was born with a very bad heart, and back in those years nothing could be done for him. If he was born now, he could have an operation and perhaps live a long life. He was married and had one daughter and two sons. His wife Lettie was very good to him. They farmed. It could have been hard for him, but she worked right along with him. His family grew up and all are doing well. He passed at the age of 38. They were a lovely family.

A little sister, Norma Gladys, came to us next. She was one of the sweetest babies that I had ever seen. We loved her so much, but she only stayed with us 11 months and passed away. I was very small at the time and don't remember much about her since she was with us such a short time.

One time Mother and Dad went to town, a small village town named Hillsville seven miles from my home. We rode up there in a buggy drawn by two horses. There were no cars at that time, at least in our vicinity. Mother wanted to buy her summer clothing especially a new hat which she had to have each season. They gave me to a sales girl to take care of while they shopped, and I fell for a bisque head doll with blonde curls, and of course I begged for her when my father came for me. Father and Mother went home that night with a very sad little girl and no bisque doll.

But the next day was a different story indeed. Father had to go to Hillsville on business, and when I saw him coming home I ran to meet him. He was coming down the road toward the house on horseback with a long box across his lap. There was a big smile on his face as he handed me the large box. Have you ever seen a happy little girl? Well, you just ought to of been there when I opened the box. There was the beautiful doll of my choice the day before. I was so proud of her. I would put her away and then go look at her and put her away again. But she didn't last very long. Mother gave her to my sister to play with, and she broke it. If she had any pleasure out of playing with her I'm glad.

My next sister was Berta. We were so proud of her. She was such a beautiful little girl. I don't remember much about her first year. I was 14 and had an operation and had gangrene and was in bed for a long time. Daniel was in Illinois working and Clarissa and her family were living in Johnson City, Tennessee. They were all called home. When I got up, Berta had grown so much and was crawling around on the floor. She went to school later and helped father and mother with whatever work they had to do on the farm and in the house. She raised a beautiful and good family. She did this by working herself and supporting the large family. And while she was taking care of the children, she had a nice house built with her earnings for a family to be proud of.

Archie was the last to come to us. Father loved him very much for he knew that his time was short to be with Archie, and he could not see him grow up. Archie was a bright little fellow... He was about [eight and a half] when my father passed away. And a few years later my mother married Dr. Winesette from a small village town called Woodlawn, Virginia. There Archie went for four years in high school and graduated. He worked for a few years until he was old enough to join the Navy... He was an officer in the Navy... He spent about 23 years in the Navy before retiring. He was and still is manager of the largest commissary in the Navy. He was a good manager and the Navy sent him around to manage the stores that got in trouble. He soon had them working smoothly and would go back to his own store again... He has a nice home and a pretty wife but no children.

We were a large family. We no longer have two sisters and one brother. There was a lot of give and take just like there is in all big families, but we had a lot of fun and laughter too. We got along well for a large family. We had so much company that I wondered sometimes where mother would put them to sleep, but each one had a bed and plenty to eat.

My father loved helping my mother get a meal or take care of the baby. My mother always had a full beautiful table with well cooked food. When we heard that we were having company, Father would get corn, shuck it, and cut off the cob ready to cook. He would kill the chicken and get it ready to fry. He also dug sweet potatoes and washed them. It just seemed like he loved doing these things for he wasn't asked to do them. I loved father so much.

The people had no cars at that time. We had horses to feed and water. I loved riding the horses down to the watering trough and back to the barn.

People would call us and want to be connected with someone on the other line as each telephone was on a different line with about ten people on each line. If we wanted to call anyone outside these lines; we had to go through a switch board.

Our largest meals were when the threshing machine was there. All the neighboring men came in to help father. Then when they were through, he helped all the men that helped him.

The wheat and grain were beautiful pouring down into the sacks. It kept two men busy moving the full sacks and replacing them with empty ones. Two men had a wagon and team of horses to move the grain to the barn as it was finished. I believe that one of my greatest pleasures in my country life was watching the threshing. My, it was one of the most enjoyed days to watch the work go on.