Interview with Grace Wolford Garner Atkins

Born in Cabins, WV.  Mother was Effey Ann Moyers Wolford.  Dad was Oscar Wolford.  One of 5 children.

Daddy was a member of CC Camp as a blacksmith trainee.  Came to Portstmouth in 1939 then to Whaleville in 1941.  Came to W.G. Saunders as a Blacksmith shortly thereafter.

Lived on Crumpler Lane (next to school)   Houses in order down that lane were the Wolfords, Howells, Romano Howell, Bounds, plus one.

Started in the 7th grade (1946) and graduated in 1951 from Chuckatuck.  Played basketball.

Grace use to sit with the Godwin children and Saunders kids.  Worked in Charlie Johnson’s store until she graduated in 1951.  Charlie Pitt’s store was the first owner but Charlie Johnsons took it over.

Mr. Pitt helped Mrs. Pitt get dressed in the morning but would put her clothes on wrongside out.  Charlie Pitt would keep all types of toys in his car and he showed them to all who stopped for gas.  Gas was 19 cents to 26 cents a gallon.  Had to climb up 5-6 steps to get into the store.  Allowed carts to load and off load.

Worked in Leggett’s Department Store in Suffolk in the sock department.

During sales they had people lined up to get in to get to the sale items.

Was married in July after graduation and then with some form of morning sickness she stayed home had Allen  in July, Steve was born the following year.  Stayed home with the kids.  Mother and Father got divorced and her mother came to live with them.  They moved to the village two doors from the church and then into my home for a short period.  Built the current house in 1968.  Russell died in 1982.   Allen is pharmacist in Zuni, but worked in the Village Drugs just after he graduated.  All of her boys worked there.

Steve got run over at Saunders’ Farm by Freddie Eley.  June 19th  He was standing on the tongue of a trailer and might have fainted.  Tractor ran over him and he had multiple injuries.  Was told he would not live to get to Norfolk, but he is 58 and doing fine.  She had a major medical problem with each of her sons.

Paul Saunders and Allen made a bottle rocket that blew Mrs. Knight’s fence down.

While living in my house they had a window AC which had a bird’s nest and lice got inside.  She liked the house a lot and tried to buy it from Sonny.

25:00  Talks about all the kids coming over to play kick the can, etc.  They all gathered at her home and she would feed them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Mrs. Gray tells her a story about one of the kids coming over and saying GD it.  Grace told him if he said that again he was going home.  Next day he came over and said it again and she sent him home.  He never forgot that lesson.

Remembered going over to store and getting into the pickle barrel.

Jimmy, youngest of the Wolford children, worked for Lone Star, then became a policeman and then became a sheriff.  He now works with kids that are hard to handle and will retire this year at 70.

33:00  Tells about how she met her current husband.  She had been a widow for 18 years.

Russell died from cancer in 1982.  Russell and his brother both died having served in Okinawa when the nuclear clean up was taking place.  She is confident that they both died of the same type of cancer.

After Russell’s death she became a licenced PN and worked for Dr. Thomas for 18 years.  She states that Dr. Thomas is one of the most knowledgeable diagnosticians that there is.  He constantly kept up with all medical notes, etc.

When a patient would ask “Dr Thomas” what is wrong with me.  His answer would be “Hell, I don’t know”.  One of the most caring doctors she has ever known.  She was working for Dr. Thomas during the day and Robert Baker at night.  She was a single mother and had to make ends meet.  She stopped working in 2002.

She says that W.G. Saunders, Jr.  helped a lot of people get started.  She also worked for Dr. Ferguson in Crittenden as well.  She worked for the Govt a total of 13 years.

48:00  Talks about growing up in Chuckatuck.  Spending the night with Mildred Knight who gave her a pair of PJ’s.  Mrs. Knight would give her a Hershey Bar at bedtime.

Talks about Miss Daisey.  Marvin and some of the guys put a box of poop on her porch and set it on fire.  She dated Sonny some before he met Jean.

Charles Johnson had a cabin at Krump’s millpond.  Marvin brought her home across the pond where there were snakes on each stump.

She dated 50 some guys before she met Russell.  Double dated at an early age with her older sister.  They would go to Portsmouth, to the Commodore Theater and stop at Rodman’s for a BBQ and Chocolate Milk.  She met Russell who was working at Johnson’s store at the same time.

Grace and her family helped start NSA.

64:00  Talking about my Dad and how he treated Mom while she was in the Nursing home.  A tray was dropped in the hallway and Mom, who had not said anything in days, immediately responded  “That’s OK, John will pick it up”.

Her grand children call her “Gram Grace”.  Has never seen a child regardless of color she could not love.  If she had the money she would start a home for little kids.

72:50  Talks about Freddie who ran over Steve, but also lost his son (Andy) when a tractor turned over on him as he was turning onto a dirt road.

75:00  Getting into politics   Also talked about Suffolk first Savings and Loan and how they treated her.  J.R. Dixon is now a preacher somewhere up North.

89:00  Best Sunday School teacher she ever had was Katherine Godwin.

92:00  Talks about playing basketball and some of those she played against like Dottie Bradshaw and Ruby Pinner.

95:00  Talks about Butch Fronfelter.  Talks about the size of his feet.