Category Archives: clothing

“It was pretty big for a country store.”

Norris: [My father’s general store, Bloxom Brothers] was pretty big for a country store. ….

There was an upstairs … the upstairs was where they sold feathers … . They also sold glass … they cut glass for various things. I can remember fiddling around with the glass cutter. …  They sold everything from horse collars to shoes, hats, patent medicines, and of course, the usual groceries and meats.

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… They sold a little bit of everything. Mouth organs, I can remember, horse collars, rope, patent medicines – just about anything you’d need, anything for farmers you’d need. …

Lee: Did people come and hang out there?

Norris : Yes, they did.  The farmers would come in particularly on Saturday nights, and most of them … in the ’20s they would come by horse cart. Dad had hitching posts out beside the store. I can remember that very well, they’d come in horse carts for their weekly shopping. …”

Lee: During the Depression, and even before that – did they trade?

Norris: Oh my goodness, yes. Absolutely. We had, in the back of the store, a separate thing for chickens. They’d take chickens and ducks in trade. And they issued … I’m not sure I can find one … You’ve seen those old store due-bills, haven’t you?

Lee: I don’t think so.

Norris:  … I have one somewhere for two cents. They’d bring chickens and corn also. We had two corn stacks in the back. Corn and chicken and, I guess, ducks – I don’t know, but I can remember the chickens. They’d take chickens and trade them – you’d get a due-bill, which you had to spend there, of course. That’s fair. …

I remember molasses came in huge barrels, but I don’t remember trading anything as far as that’s concerned, but eggs – eggs were a big product. That was the main product, as a matter of fact. The farmers would bring them in. I can’t remember where the eggs went, but … Dad had a little hammer … that he nailed up the crates with. I don’t know what ever happened to it, probably buried with him, I imagine, ’cause I can remember so many times people would use that thing and not bring it back – in the family – and he was tough about his hammer.

… Saturday night was a big night.  …. we would work on Saturday nights and sweep up after everybody was gone.  We would stay open until 10 or 11 o’clock – 10 o’clock anyway.  And then sweep.  It was a pretty big store.

From an interview with Norris Bloxom, summer 2010.

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“If you’ve never hoed for hours on end …”

Faye: I still have the first thing I ever earned.  I have the first thing I bought with what I earned.  When I was married, my husband couldn’t understand why I had this little sweater and this little purse that looked really pretty ragged.  And he took it to the Goodwill.   And  I went and I got it back.  And I told him –  I said, “you know, if you’ve never hoed for hours on end in a a watermelon field, and you’re ten and the other men are grown and you’re trying to keep up with them, under that hot, hot sun when you’d rather be in a swimming pool or at the beach.”

I went and I got it back.  I still have it. And I’ll probably have it when they cremate me.  Then somebody can take it to the Goodwill.   I said, “I know you probably don’t understand it.” He did his own share of dirty work and awful things.  “… but for a ten-year-old going down those fields, I always want to remember what that felt like, and I don’t ever want to do that work again – ever.”  I don’t know that he understood, but that’s okay.  He didn’t have to.  He didn’t have to do it.  And I didn’t have to do it.  I chose to do it.   I asked to do it.  I wanted to do it.  But I didn’t want to do it again.

… I can still see it.  I can see that field; I can hear them singing;  I can feel the cadence of it.

Lee: Who was singing?

Faye:  The men that were working in that field, side by side with me.  One of them, his name was Hilton.  That’s all I remember – Hilton.  They sang.  I mean, they sang to be able to put up with the boredom, I’m sure.  They’d sing, and there would be a certain cadence that they would use.  But it was hard for me to keep up, as a ten-year old.

From an interview with Faye Ellis-Jones, summer 2010.

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“That’s why I never wanted to live on the water”

Bill: Anybody on the Eastern Shore is not very far from the water, no question about that.   … We farmed land on the seaside.  … It wasn’t much difference in the farming part of it, except sometimes, in the spring of the year … when it’s time to drag off white potatoes … and we’d be working over here [near New Church] and it would be nice, warm, and we’d get through here and go over there [to the seaside] and sometimes, it would freeze you to death –

Lee: [The wind] coming off the water?

Bill: Coming off the water, yeah.  Makes all the difference in the world.

And then, when we used to grow potatoes years ago, we’d plant sorghum after we dug the potatoes, just for a soil conditioner … it would help the soil – and by September that was up probably six foot tall.  And we’d go in there with tractor and disk, and disk it down and sow it in rye for a cover crop for the winter.

And years before we had tractors with cabs on them, back years ago, it was so bad –  the mosquitos and biting flies were so bad, the only way you could stay on there would be wrap up everything you had except your face – overcoat, whatever – you know, just save your face.  And then they’d fly in your mouth and nose.  You couldn’t stay out there, the mosquitos were so bad.

Lee: This was all over the Shore?

Bill: Well, this was on the seaside.

Lee: The marshes?

Bill: On the seaside, yes.  Next to … the creeks and all this.  They were bad here [near New Church], but not like that.  And tomatoes … you were picking something, the help – they’d have to wear long-sleeved shirts, wrap up or the mosqitos would eat you alive.

That’s why I never wanted to live near the water.  Never had any desire to.  It’s pretty and all that.   Of course, it’s different now.  You can spray and whatnot, take care of that sort of thing.  Wasn’t any spray then.  Wasn’t even mosquito spray [to spray on your arms].

From an interview with Bill and Audrey Davis, summer 2010.

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… and that’s the way she taught us.

Rhoda Dalby Young, 1935 (courtesy of the Dalby/Young family)

They had a two-room schoolhouse [in Westover, Maryland]. In fact, it had been a big two-room – a double one – but we had our school in one of [them]. The other was used for library books and special supplies. Miss Mary Wetsel – she was a Catholic – and she taught five grades.

I [started] the second grade [in Lower Northampton County] and had Ms. Hurt. … and that’s where I had my first little boyfriend. Billy … he gave me a little cage with a key on it that had a little bird in it, and you’d turn that and the little bird would sing. … But in the second grade Billy called Ms. Hurt one day, and he had a bracelet and it had “Rhoda Dalby” on it. His mother had bought it for him. He was asking her to fasten it for him, and she was all smiles there doing that. But anyway, he asked me if I wanted to wear it, and I said, “No, I don’t want to wear it.”

But anyway, going back to the one-room schoolhouse, there would be, as you go in the front, we had a bucket of water on the table in the back with a cup, and we had two little johns outside. That way was the boys, and that way was the girls, and I was in the second grade, so I was not in the first aisle as you came in.  That was the first grade.  The second was the second grade. And the last – there were not that many in the second grade, so the row was finished out with the third graders. 

And then there was a big pot-belly stove filled with coal, and they had a zinc thing around it to keep it from – the children from falling against it.  So, the other side, you went to the fourth on the far wall and then the fifth against that stove. 

She was fabulous. She was an old maid – Miss Mary – but she was sweet to us. There was a big blackboard in the back of the room and a long, like a church bench in front of it, so she would take grade one and maybe with grade one, she’d have a thing up there with birds. “How many birds? Did you see a Robin?” “One” or whatever, and that’s the way she taught us.  

And then, of course, we would progress and we three little girls would go to visit her in the summertime.  I remember, one year, she went across the country, and so we went and visited with her and sat and listened to her story about going across the country.  We were like that.  

…  Mother sewed, so we had little dresses, not many, but she made everything we wore.  We would go and visit up and down in Westover … everybody [would say] “those little Dalby girls” but we enjoyed life there.

from an interview with Rhoda Dalby Young, summer 2009

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