By Eula Golding Walters © 2015
Online: January, 2015
I remember the Sunny Side Store in Carroll County, Virginia, but we never had spare money to spend on non-necessities, so our trips there were few.
It was Christmas Season of 1960. We four older of the eight Golding kids were teenagers by now, with the two oldest being out of the home. Janet, the next to oldest, had come home from Bluefield Business College, where she was attending on a basketball scholarship, for Christmas break.
On Saturday morning before Christmas, she decided we should go to Sunny Side Store and buy Mother a Christmas gift. That sounded good to me, as I had no money to buy her one on my own. So we piled into my brother John's 1949 Chevy Coupe, and away we went. For reasons I can't remember, we also took the baby, Nancy along. She was a month shy of one year old, and still on a bottle and in diapers. Since the trip was a short one, we took nothing extra with us.
We made it to Sunny Side and bought a pretty pitcher for Mother. We were shocked when we walked outside to an entirely different world than when we went in. We were in the middle of a terrible sleet storm. Every surface was a solid sheet of ice, including the road.
Not paying attention to what others were doing, we hopped in the car and headed toward Galax, thinking it would be the safest route. To say the rest of that day was a nightmare is a gross understatement. It seemed that every 100 feet someone had spun off the road and were in a ditch, turned the wrong way, or had struck a sign or another car. It made me think of a stock car race I had seen, with cars wrecking in every direction.
Somehow we made it without incident to Galax, with the sleet still coming down. By now it was getting late in the day and we knew our worry-wart mother would be pacing the floor. We headed out 89 toward the Parkway. As soon as we got on the Parkway, we began sliding and the car wouldn't make it up the first hill. We slid back down and turned onto the road going by Snow Hill Baptist Church.
Our good luck ran out as we slid into a parked car, bounced off and hit another one beside it. In my frightened state I yelled, 'go, go, go! Don't let them know we've hit them.' Thankfully, John had better morals than I did and took the high road. He knocked on the nearest door and told them what happened. They came out and checked the cars and not a dent or bang was to be found. The ice was so thick on the cars that it hadn't even cracked on impact.
Thinking we had had our bad luck and were now headed toward home free, we began to move up the road. Just below our Great Uncle Morgan Goodson's farm, we slid into the ditch and couldn't get out. Since the baby was soaking wet by now and crying from hunger, we were happy to walk to their house, get warm, and ask for help. Aunt Minnie gave us a clean dish towel to use as a diaper, as well as a fresh bottle of milk. John went with Uncle Morgan to pull the car out of the ditch.
When they got back to the house and John warmed up a bit, we thanked them for their help and kindness, and went on, hoping to make it home with no more incidents. We finally had no choice but to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was a sheet of ice, as no other cars had been on it all day. By now it was completely dark. Just as we began down the last hill before we got to our farm, we saw through the thick fog, forms of people crawling on the road. Mother had convinced herself that we had wrecked and were all dead, so she made everyone get dressed and start out looking for us. This included her, Daddy, my seven year old brother and four year old sister. When they got to the hill where we found them, they could no longer stand up, and were walking up the hill on their hands and feet. This may sound far fetched to most, but if you knew my mother and how far she could fester a worry, you would understand. Somehow or other we piled everyone into John's little Coupe and made it on home. The little trip to Sunny Side had taken us over twelve hours!
I don't really remember Mother's reaction to her pitcher we got her for Christmas, but I sure do remember how tightly she hugged her baby girl, and how she couldn't stop fussing at us three older ones. Of course I never go by Sunny Side Store that I don't think of that day.