The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Mountain Memories of Richard Bond

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1985

Issue: February, 1985

mountain memories of richard bondRichard and Creola Bond in the kitchen of their home standing in front of their "Home Comfort" wood cook stove.On a rainy Sunday in November, I drove up to Barren Springs, Virginia. On my way I stopped in Sylvatus, Virginia for church services. I was on my way to meet Richard and Creola Bond for the first time. Mr. Bond sent word that he had a story for me and Mrs. Bond invited me for Sunday dinner.

When I arrived, Richard came out on the back porch. Right away I liked his merry and smiling face. Creola and their daughter greeted me warmly. Believe me, on that Sunday I enjoyed a good country dinner topped off by homemade cake with strawberries. Mmmmmm!

After dinner, we went into the living room and settled down for a long talk. Already I could tell that Richard enjoys talking and Creola is a quiet, soft spoken lady and devoted wife and mother. The Bonds celebrated 57 years of marriage on October 27th. And now, Richard Bond, as he related some of the story of his life to me:

"I was born at Fancy Gap, Virginia in 1907, the son of Carl Anderson Bond and Ruth Vass Bond. Creola was the daughter of Charles Efferent and Dora Goad. In 1921 I moved to Barren Springs. I was the ninth child in a family of fourteen - ten girls and four boys. My grandmother's family came from Ireland around 1800 and she was part Cherokee Indian also.

I started working at the age of four. My job was to carry water to the corn field and "new ground." You could say I was a water boy. I quit wearing dresses when I was four, but I remember the last dress I wore. It was a little polka dot thing. There wasn't much time for many games, but I did have a truckle wheel wagon and drove a little team of oxen.

When I was ten years old, we were growing cabbage, packing them in crates. Then I, with my brother two years younger than me, would drive a team of kicking mules to Mount Airy, North Carolina. It would take a day and a half for the trip. The cabbage would sell for 25 cents per hundred pounds. Why! I paid 75 cents for three heads of Patrick County cabbage the other day.

My Dad had a store in Fancy Gap and finally built the business up to two stores. You could get a quart of candy for 5 cents. It came in buckets and was measured. Sugar was loose and sold for 5 cents per pound. It was scooped out and weighed. Daddy had the raw, grain coffee and we would parch it to suit our taste. Mama had a coffee mill and every morning she would wake me up grinding coffee. That coffee was called Arbuckle. It was a lot better for you than that coffee you buy now. I got a coffee mill at a sale other day just like Mama's and I still have the board that her coffee mill was on. Mama bought things from Daddy's store and paid for them with her butter and egg money. We had milk, but in those days, you didn't sell milk. You gave it to the neighbors. Mama would buy cotton flannel and make my undergarments. I never had any store bought ones until I was a young man all grown up.

As for my education, I was able to complete the seventh grade. We walked one or two miles to school in all kinds of weather when I was getting my education. The teacher only got $20.00 a month and had to pay room and board out of that. I had seven books in the seventh grade. Let's see, there was Arithmetic, Spelling, Writing, Reading, Geography, Grammar and Physiology. (At this point I interrupted Mr. Bond and said, "You had Physiology in those days?" "Goodness Woman! That was Health!”) We carried our lunch to school made from what we had at home, like pancakes, fat back, butter, jelly and the likes. Back then, if you could afford to eat wheat bread on week ends, you were considered to be wealthy.

At the age of ten, I thought I was really a sporty fellow and that was the beginning of my courting days. I was sitting with a girl in school that I thought the world of. Once in singing school, I was picking at a girl and she slapped me. Boy! I grabbed her by the hair of the head and dragged her down between the benches. They said they were going to lock us up in a room together and I was hoping they would.

I first met Creola at school, but then I didn't know she would become my wife. At that time I didn't know if I even liked her or not. A few years later, I saw Creola again and ask her for a date. The fellow with me ask for a date also, but I won out. I was engaged to someone else at the time. Yes Siree! That Creola was a pretty woman. Seven weeks later we were married. All the money I had was a ten dollar gold certificate that my mother had kept for me. The marriage license was $3.00. I gave the preacher a dollar and Lordy, we sure did need the other six dollars. We were between my Dad's house and the poor house, so to speak. We stayed with Daddy awhile and then her parents for six months. Then we went to Ardway and rented a house. In later years we were able to have our own place. I could have searched the world over and couldn't have found a better woman than Creola. Our marriage has lasted 57 years after a seven week courtship.

I have farmed all my life and had lots of other jobs. In 1939 I helped build the New River Bridge. In the early '40's, I went to Radford and started as a carpenter's helper, although I had been a carpenter since I was seventeen years old. I worked a day and a half on that, then I was a time keeper. Next I was an expeditor, having as high as 48 men working for me. Later I went on to being a carpenter's foreman. I built a lot of those buildings down in the Powder Plant at Radford. Then I was sent to Dublin and built several buildings there. I worked a lot for Jones Construction Company and several different factories. (Again I interrupted and said, "You were always a boss, how come?" 'Why! That was my talent. I was always a great leader. I treated my workers like I wanted to be treated.) My workers thought the world of me. Back to working, I tell you woman, I know what work is. When I was raising my family, I walked eight miles and worked for 90 cents a day to feed my family. Yes Siree! I know what work is. Would you believe that when I was around 15, I was plowing 40 acres of land with a team of horses. One year I made 1600 bushels of shelled corn. When the corn crop was laid by, I planted wheat. Woman! (That's me he's calling woman) I can tell you what work is. I was skinny and sickly, but just kept on going, had to.

I always tried to dress nice as I could for the times. My first suit of clothes was bought by working for 50 cents a day. Until then, my mother had made my clothes. Now I like to be well dressed and look nice. If you want to make me mad, just mess up my hat or my hair. I'd just as soon you spit tobacco juice in my face as mess up my hair.

My first car was a model A. The first jet I saw with that stream of smoke coming out like to scared me to death. I really thought the end of time had come. No Sir! No airplane rides for me.”

Richard Bond is proud of his background and heritage and equally proud of his own family. He fondly calls Creola "Mama" and says he has one of the sweetest families you will ever find. He and Creola raised seven children and one grandson. Then there are several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. People like Richard and Creola had to work hard, but are thankful for what they have. They share with others. As I was leaving Richard said, "You are welcome to apples, here's a plenty." These two people are special and I'm a better person from meeting them and learning their values of life. If you are ever in Barren Springs stop by and visit Richard and Creola. You will get a big welcome and I bet you will stay a long time. They have so much to share with others.