Interview with Jesse James Johnson, Jr.

Born November, 1948.  Would not want to have lived anywhere else than in Chuckatuck where every one cared for you.  Either our parents or friends were there to take care of us.

Jeff Thomas and Jesse were very good friends as well as several of the black kids.

His father and mother lived in the upstairs of the brick house and ultimately moved into the house that Oscar Crittenden built behind them.  Grandfather and Grandmother lived in the downstairs of the brick house.

Before the store they worked in the trucking business hauling large concrete pipes.

The original store was a small frame building that had an upstairs which two of his grandfather’s brothers lived.  They sold penny candy, some groceries and gas.  No clothes at all.

Drink box was cooled with ice water.  Had a pot bellied stove and many would come and sit and talk.  The second store was a concrete block building known as Johnson’s Self Service.  The second store came along about 1940

In the mid 50’s they got a beer licences.  Had meat that needed to be cut.  Sold coal and had to bag it in 20/25 lbs bags.  Also had loose feed as well and bagged just what they needed.

Corn herring and Cod Fish in large barrels was a staple.

House was built by his grandfather in late 30’s with large brick columns out side the entrance to the driveway and about three times a year someone would hit them having run off the road.

His grandmother grew up in Eclipse.  His grandfather came from Nurney’s Siding.  His granddaddy worked at the ice plant.  He worked with Thomas Turner, also known as “Son” Turner.

The store was operated by his grandfather, grandmother and mother.  His dad was in land clearing and he built a shop next to the store for auto repair.  He remembers having Bud Godwin come up and they would wash his car.

Store was opened early to meet the needs of the shipyard traffic.  His mother was the financial backbone of things.

His granddaddy had a spiral note book he kept his records in and his dad was even worse.  People paid when they could and most did pay.  No court actions were taken to get money.

Jesse said he did not know if they were rich, poor, or inbetween but were happy living and working in Chuckatuck.

25:00  Talks about the sawdust dump down his lane and how they played in it. How they took crates and rode down the sawdust hill.  They buckled Jeff Thomas in one of those cartons and would not let him out.

Talks a little about recreation from swimming in the Marl holes where they would fish and swim.

Richard Doughty who worked for Lone Star and the trail driver, Mr. Duck, were good to them.

John Kelly and Tom Bradshaw were instrumental in getting them involved in baseball and softball.

The Ruritan Club held minstrels in the main school auditorium.

Mrs. Causey was the music teacher and they used the Masonic Lodge for lessons.

Lew Morris was the principal and Mrs. Bagnell was his first grade teacher.  Lew was fair and tough.  Jesse and several of his classmates decided to partition the school to get rid of Mrs. Causey and the music department.  When Mr. Morris confronted them they said this was a democracy and they had a say. However, Lew said” in my school it is not a democracy”.

41:00  In June of 1975 he bought 132 Kings Highway which was my grandmother’s (Drex’s Grandmother Chapman).  He talks about redoing the house.

43:15  He thinks that Novella was still there because the light on the 3rd floor would come on at times with no one turning it on.

He remembers Joe Bailey from Oakland coming down to the store in his horse and cart.

53:00  Talks about Shadrack Brown and his wife Annie Brown who worked for the Johnsons when he was a young boy.

He thinks that the most eccentric person in Chuckatuck was Percy Pitt.

Talks about his dad moving the barn to its final position so Hank could redo the barn.