The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Growing Up On Black's Creek

By Alice Vest Ayers © 1991

Issue: July, 1991

I was born in a house on Black's Creek; people called it the old Hazelette house because a family of Hazelette's lived there before my mother and father, sisters and brothers moved there. My younger brother and I were born there. Some people said it was haunted, but we never saw or heard anything. We lived there until I was six years old, then moved down the road about a mile.

My dad had a horse and buggy and we would drive to Buena Vista and spend the weekend with my Aunt Lizzy Read.

My brother Orlee Vest would do anything to get out of hoeing corn. One morning daddy wanted him to help hoe corn, so he picked up the baby, my younger brother and said, "Mama wants me to rock the baby," so daddy took my two older brothers to hoe corn and he let Orlee stay home.

Our mailman drove a horse and buggy to carry the mail up Black's Creek, so my two brothers would climb up in the cherry tree and when the mailman was right under the tree, they would drop cherries down on him and dirty up his white shirt. Of course, mom and daddy didn't know anything about it or they would have gotten a spanking. They also used to knock down the neighbor's tomato plants.

The children on Black's Creek, while growing up, made their own fun. We never had a bunch of toys and dolls like the children of today have. We would swing on grape vine swings, roam over the hills; make play houses and cut down cedar trees, pile them up and make a house out of them. We played hide and seek and ring around the roses. In winter all the children would pile on a sled and ride down the hill in the snow. We always had big snows back in the thirties. One day my brother pulled me on the sled about a mile down the road and dumped me off in the snow. I had to walk back home. We would build up a big fire and sleigh ride half the night.

My father passed away in 1929, leaving my mother with six children to support. She had no kind of training and not much schooling, so she had to do house work, washing and ironing for the neighbor's. She scrubbed clothes all day on a wash board for fifty cents to take care of her children, and then come home and wash clothes on a wash board and hang them by the wood stove to dry so we children would have clean clothes to wear to school the next day.

We had a cow and chickens, so we had plenty of milk, butter and eggs. We always had two big gardens, so we had plenty of vegetables to eat. In the fall mother would make a big kettle of apple butter, grape butter, and pear butter. All the neighbors would come and help to cut the apples.

All the children of Black's Creek attended the Cedar Grove Methodist Church. On Christmas we would have plays. One Christmas my brother Floyd and I attended, we had to walk home on a dark night. We had a candle, but halfway home it went out and we had to walk up a long dark lane by ourselves and boy were we scared, for people always said there were ghosts in those dark woods.

I miss those old days and the fun I had growing up on Black's Creek.