Interview with Leroy Howell

Water System in Chuckatuck

Lots about Will Matthews

Water system on the hill about 1917.  They ran this system until around 1920’s-1930  they sold it to B.W. Godwin as a partnership.  Billy Moore bought it then P.D. and Marjorie bought it in the late 1950’s.  Original water system was in Mr. Powell’s yard then the one in 1917 came on line with Capt. Will building the tank.  The tank was filled with artesian well.  There was an artesian well right across the road from the Ice Plant.  Lois Darden was living with Mrs. Chapman and worked for B.W. Godwin.  Mr. Kirk was paying the bill for the Christopher house.   In the 70’s the cost of treating the water was so cost prohibitive that they sold the system to the city of Suffolk.

Marjorie is the daughter of Capt Will.

9:30  Leroy was born in Southampton Country and moved here when he was three (1933).  His dad came to Chuckatuck to run the saw mill for B. W. Godwin  .  Boys were P.D., Tom, Leroy and Virgil.  Three Dentists All went to Elon and MCV.   When moved here from Southampton lived in the small house between Moores and Gwaltneys.

They moved in the home they built in 1936 with the help of W.G. Saunders after 3 years in the small house next to Moores.

What were you doing in 1936 that was fun.  There was not a better place to grow up than in Chuckatuck.  Never locked a door.  Go and come as you wanted to.

15:00 talks about the narrow yard of the small house they lived in early on.  The road out front was very sandy.  Lots of colored glass which had been worn down.  The grist mill was a great place to be, as well.  Spent a lot of time behind the grist mill which was open and not grown up. This was in the early 30/40’s.

18:48  Pinner house could pull a good size boat up behind it.  Captains would stay in that house while waiting to be loaded.  Talks about the Annie P. Parks and Morning Light.  Had church picnics on this boat.

When moved up the road all worked in a garden.  Had two wood stoves, one for cooking and one for the living room.

Played with all the kids, both black and white.  Had no problems with it nor did their parents.

Talks about pranks they pulled like pull the bag.   Talks about Matt Crumpler and his meat house having a community dinner at his meat house.  He remembers walking with his dad  in 1935 down to the facility had a new cowboy suit with two six guns.  Winter of 1935 was a bad winter with lots of snow.

Sonny Chapman and Tom Howell are the same age.

24:30  Talks about the shavings and sawdust from the mill being dumped over there.  Talks about the slide that they built.  Leroy and Charlie built a cabin back on the mill pond.  It was built out of slab wood.  Cabin had a round roof built out of 12-14 inch boards with a groove cut out of them.  Hauled all the wood back there with a horse and cart.

26:30  Talks about the mill ponds ie Crumps and Bradley and the duck hole.

He started to school in 1936.  Finished in 1947.  Elon in 1951, MCV in 1955 then in the army for two years as a private or Capt.  Went as a Captain. He did an internship at MCV.

Remembers from way back the Upshur sisters .  He remembers going to their house to a big party on a wharf like place on the creek with cokes and lots of adult beverages.  Had them in big tubs iced down.  That was between 1933 and 1935.  The ladies fell on hard times and ultimately lost their home to Lone Star.

P.D. and Leroy bought the grist.mill but never got it to run.  Older guy from Colonial Heights who was going to run it got sick so they just gave it up to Gary Berard, then from him to Charlotte Scott.  This included the Mill Pond which they sold to the City in 1970.  The city pumps water from the mill pond into Lone Star lakes.  When the mill pond dam gave way they found dugout canoes which was given to the city and put at lone star lakes.

During the war years he was 12 years old in 1942 and remembers all the men going away, the dark shades, etc.  He joined the boy scouts and they collected lots of paper, metal and scrape iron for the war effort.  Lights on the cars had black tape over the top half.  Talks about the gun implacements down by the bridge and over at monogram field.  The guy who flew into the woods behind Oakland was  a guy by the name of Jefferson.  They had a wooden carrier deck at Monogram field where they did touch and go’s.

They put Jefferson in a bag as his body was all over the area.

P.D. went into the shipyard and then the Merchant Marines.  P.D. and his sister did not go to ELON as stated earlier.  P.D. was in Berserta, Italy and at night the German girl would get on the radio and tell them the Germans were coming.  P.D.  says the engines in the ship would say Chuckatuck, Chuckatuck.  Reminding him of home.

P.D. and Al had a 50% interest for about 15 years then bought W.G. out.

W.G. was the scout master and the first meetings were held in the Gym.  They would go to DC with W.G. and camp out on the mall.  Troop 25 started in the 30’s when sponsored by the Ruritans.

Leroy has been involved in scouting except for the time he was in college and in the army.

You made your own play,  did a lot of things like bb gun fights, etc.  In the fall when the teachers were staying with the Gilliams they would go down and fill up the car with leaves.  Play tic tac on houses like Daisey Jorden.  Brown bags filled with dog poop.     One night Gene Woolford knocked a section of the wrought Iron fence around Wesley Chapel.  Dr. Eley and the flower (pull the bag).   Byron Woolford shot himself in the foot trying to scare the guys on the hill.  He was messing with his gun and it went off.

Butch and Virgil had pet crows.  Virgil’s was named Blackie who would come down and land on his shoulder when called.

Joe Bailey made a lot of whiskey in the woods.  Dr. Eley had a barn and stables where they kept their horse/ponies.  Once while hunting they found a still behind the mill pond and shot it up.  Joe came to Byrd’s once and told those boys not to shoot up his still any more.

Byrd’s and Howell’s hung out together a lot.  His mom said she never saw Joe Byrd without a runny nose.

61:00  Talks about his dad smoking enroute to school when he was in the first grade.  Smoked Piedmonts.

Remembers a long line of large trees all the way down towards the Crittenden road.

65:00  Talks about W.G. Saunders building a store where the village drugs was for his father to run.  Just a small store.  Close to that was an ice celler where they stored ice cut in the winter in the ground before the ice plant was built.  They cut ice from the mill pond and stored it in the celler which was cut into the bank.

66:00  Talks about the W.G. Saunders’ full mill.  “Old Folks” worked with P.D. and was his right hand man.  P.D. was the log man and Al was the wood guy.  Big Willie knew just how to roll the logs onto the trucks with mules.  Logs were cut with a crosscut saw, then a chain saw and then a Loggers Dream, mounted on the back of a truck with a cable attached.

70;OO  Leroy and XXXX  worked at Owens store.

71:00  Talks about the big fight in Chuckatuck one Saturday.between the colored folks.

Talks about the double door falling on Leroy’s head and Dr. Eley having to remove all the glass from his head.

Dr. Eley would visit with the Gwaltney’s store every afternoon for a cool one.  Said it was good for your constitution.

Son Turner, Bo Giles (Charlie got a lot of his blues music from Bo).

Lucy, Son Turners wife, stuck her head out of the door one morning and she had been beaten very badly.  On Saturday nights there was always a fight on the Ridge.

75;00  He used to tell people never a better place to be raised than in Chuckatuck.  Leroy’s mother said she never knew who was going to be on the couch in the morning.

76:00 Talks about Oscar (popye byrd) stealing all the cats from Miss Patty.

A Dr. Powell, teacher at Elon had four sons and all of them went to VMI the Duke Medical School.  They own LABCORP.  Pop Byrd kept the lab going with the cats from Chuckatuck.

Virgil went to Benjamin Franklin University in DC in Accounting.  He had hepatitis C, most likely from working as a dentist with no gloves.

81:50  Talks about Frank Spady and his little race car.  Thinks a picture is in Emma Mae’s book.

83:00  Talks about his tents and all of the things they had in the way of farming to help support them like hogs, cattle, chickens.

Talks about Rabbit Tobacco which they made with molasses.  Sonny had a black boy that was his best friend, but do not remember his name.  LINWOOD JONES.