Margaret Oney and Larry Oney

Recorded March 17, 2007 Archived March 17, 2007 01:16:41 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX002408


Larry Oney interviews his mother, Margaret, about her life in rural Virginia, her children, and how she would like to be remembered.


  • Margaret Oney
  • Larry Oney

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:03 My name is Larry Ernie 42 today's date is

00:10 March 17th 2007 over here in Richmond, Virginia, and I'm going to be talking to my mother. I'm her son you say that my name is Margaret on it.

00:27 I made it for years old.

00:30 Today's date is March 17th 07, Richmond, Virginia, and this is my son.

00:41 Okay.

00:44 That you were born in Richmond.

00:47 Yes, right and then you move directly to King and Queen very shortly thereafter king queen County with your parents to live on a farm there.

00:58 So tell me a little bit about what it was like to Growing Up on the farm and king and queen a lot of work lot of work, but we had fun.

01:13 Here we didn't have any money, but we had plenty to eat.

01:18 And planned it to keep warm.

01:22 Now

01:24 When what tell me like memory you were talking about when your brother Elwood was born tell me about that at the very early memory for you my brother and I my next brother and I were peeping Through the Keyhole.

01:45 Back, then we thought babies came in the doctor suitcases.

01:53 So we were trying to

01:57 Decide which suitcase he was in.

02:02 So my brother William pick one. I picked the other cuz we had to take turns people into the keyhole.

02:13 And

02:15 So we we found somebody came to the door. So we had to leave so we never did know which suitcase he came out of the babies came out and said the doctor suitcases were all the children born in the home all your brothers and sisters. Were they born in the house?

02:41 So what now? What did you do on the farm? Basically, I know.

02:47 Well, we had chores to do each morning.

02:54 We had chores to do in the evening.

02:58 And we worked during the daytime in the summer when the crops was in where our time it was easy to grow tobacco.

03:10 All kinds of vegetables.

03:15 Daddy took vegetables to Market in Richmond, Virginia.

03:21 Sale on Market downtown so we'd have some extra money.

03:30 Back then nobody had and the money.

03:37 And but we have played time for instance. If you needed other Goods that you couldn't grow on the farm. It was basically you would bother them he would go to the store. Your mother would take some of the things your eggs. Thank them for things you couldn't have them send it to the store.

03:56 With eggs and butter

04:00 To trade for sugar coffee Salt stuff. We couldn't Reyes.

04:08 But everything else we raised but you had a good times on the phone. Yeah, we had good times. So what was your favorite memory of growing up? And can you clean on that farm? Oh, well, what album was this big swing we had in the yard.

04:26 It was handmade with wooden slats Swan between two trees.

04:34 And we saw get in at swing at night time.

04:41 Play David and sing songs.

04:45 I can't remember any of the songs you used to sing.

04:49 Well with something a lot of hymns and then we song You Are My Sunshine?

04:58 Remembering Carter family just that the valley one Wildwood Flower.

05:07 And we would

05:11 Play Heidi's play house. We had a place that we had.

05:18 Roped off with branches and we made rooms.

05:25 Can we have a kitchen or dining room and living room and we had broken pieces of dishes and we cooked always offered an innate and play it Mom and Dad.

05:50 But I used to get really really tired.

05:55 Appealing

05:57 Cuz we have to peel apples pictures.

06:02 Mama to can I drive you were saying you told me in the past that the animals like the day that they slaughtered the animals you didn't like that and wait, we always raise hogs for meat. Nobody kill cows back then for beef. Nobody even knew what a steak was cuz if cows was the skip for milk and butter.

06:34 So the only thing that we

06:38 Hate where the Hogs

06:41 And I didn't like the day that we had to kill the Hogs because I could hear them squealing.

06:50 And I put a pillow over my head.

06:55 And then the next day then I went out to school the next day. I had to stay home.

07:02 Because the help Mama with the

07:04 Put the meat away and that was a big deal because you did all that basically in one day today. So what would she do with the meat?

07:20 Well-shaped

07:23 Put the load that away to eat right then and then she cooking can the sausage she made scrapple put it in Jaws.

07:35 The Salted the hams and shoulders

07:40 And we called and Midlands back then.

07:44 Which you would really call bacon and salt pork now.

07:50 Salt at that down and hung it up in the Smokehouse and I would keep through the winter.

08:00 And so mama can

08:04 Doodles of food

08:06 We even raised.

08:09 Sugar cane and made molasses

08:15 We raised peanuts.

08:18 We raised there beside what did you do with the tobacco?

08:21 You had to work on it until it got too late summer.

08:29 And it started to turn the color.

08:33 And then you had to cut it and hang it.

08:37 Well, we hung out was in the fields on scaffolds.

08:45 Until they got a certain color.

08:49 And then you had to

08:52 Do this the bomb dolls?

08:55 Of tobacco leaves to send to market the enemy you hated them. Tobacco worms. My brother used to chase me up and down. It feels with the words. I was scared to death of them big thing. I think was that you'd like to cover yourself cuz you didn't want to be known as a field worker.

09:31 You didn't want to be sunny today. And do you want to be white like you didn't work in the field?

09:39 What time in a little bit about your your mother?

09:42 My mother was a great woman choose kind.

09:46 Generous to everybody always looking out for people. Somebody got sick. She went to see him cook food.

09:56 And made sure that they had was taken care of.

10:01 So she was a very good woman very good. He was okay.

10:09 It was a good daddy, but he had his faults of you 5 children and sisters you enjoyed school. Oh, I love to go you are good student. I was 8 plus all the way through. I love to read mama just called me a bookworm.

10:39 And I remember one time and I was little.

10:43 I was looking through this book.

10:47 To see where the worms were.

10:51 And I couldn't find any worms and I told her and she said that's just the sad you read all the time. You're called a bookworm.

11:04 What about when was when you got in trouble what was give me an incident when you got into trouble. I remember this like when you turn 16 your dad didn't like you to date, but you decided to take matters into your own hands up one day, but they didn't know where I was going.

11:26 So they were looking all over for me. I caught it for that your boy came and got you.

11:40 So and y'all went down to Tappahannock and when I got back you were in trouble boy came back.

11:55 I didn't say no more him much went to Bowling Green and then after that it was okay for you to today and I'm here what happened to Jimmy, car accident.

12:18 So you what was your goal when you were growing up? I want to come to Richmond and be a secretary all my life. I wanted to be a secretary.

12:34 That was going to RPI the old faces PCS secretary.

12:43 I don't know. I just I loved anything to do with writing a book. So whatever and it wasn't a whole lot that a woman could do back then. Was a saleslady teacher.

13:00 Secretary at farm at 1 get off at 5.

13:13 I want to make a cake.

13:17 But I didn't want to be off the cow to get the milk. Let's go make that cake.

13:31 I had to Milk The Cow to get the milk.

13:35 Well, I did but it took me forever to get enough milk to make a cake.

13:42 I finally did and I made the cake, but I didn't milk any more cows.

13:48 I want I want to go to learn cuz I wouldn't go stay on your phone if you wanted to come to Richmond.

13:56 Well, unfortunately events took a bad turn and there was a fire going to work through the Wilma.

14:13 So this was in January still had almost half a year of school left.

14:20 So we had to

14:23 We didn't have much left after the fire. So.

14:28 Mama just packed up and come to Richmond to finish your school year.

14:35 And so you didn't end up going to RPI. What happened?

14:40 Well, we moved to Richmond, so I didn't finish high school. I went to work to go to work.

14:54 Wilson's meat company around 1940-41

15:05 Yeah some well, I was married in 41. So it's probably around 4. 1940. Did you I so, what was it like that first job working in that factory. Would you think of that?

15:25 I liked it. I just like giving the $16 a week.

15:35 But it was Monday.

15:37 Now, I know you had a large family lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and you all settled down but basically in the same area of Churchill on Carrington Street. Basic down is the same block. How did that happen? I don't know the first one moved. That was my aunt and then when the others started coming to Richmond leave in the phones and coming to Richmond

16:05 They just rented a place on on that street. And so we all

16:10 About a half a dozen

16:13 Amat

16:16 Live donut Street

16:18 But everybody knew everybody else.

16:23 So this was right before the war jobs were opening up due to the war really bad.

16:36 So

16:38 Tell me about the war years. What did you do during the War? I know you would have already had two children or one child at Lee.

16:49 We had to rationing.

16:53 But I got

16:56 Babe

16:58 Got what to call it from day.

17:01 David are you because of your husband being in the he went in and well if everybody had to go in back then?

17:13 And I think I got $100 a month while I was a whole lot of money for me.

17:19 Right and rationing Well, we'd get a book of stamps.

17:27 And when do you use them up? You didn't get in the more?

17:31 I think it was for a month. I think anyway, I traded my gasoline stamps cuz I didn't have a car.

17:43 I traded my whiskey stabs cuz I didn't drink my cigarette stamps because I didn't smoke for sugar and coffee.

17:57 And stuff like that that I need it. So I have plenty of that. So I did pretty good. I'm waiting list for thank ya. You couldn't buy anything that was made in a factory cuz all the factors was making wall supplies. You couldn't buy a call. You couldn't buy ice box.

18:22 You could buy nothing.

18:24 So you would get on waiting list to get a waiting list.

18:29 But it was about 3 or 4 years for I got a icebox a refrigerator. Well, so what was it like with I know that you and your husband had problems when he came back from the war and you had all these kids. How was it keeping the family together?

18:57 Terrible it was it was really hard cuz it was an alcoholic.

19:06 And if you get a job you get paid he drank it all up.

19:13 And you had a lot of children at that time seven or eight you're on your way to a children with him and that was hard keeping all them together with just you supporting them.

19:30 Well, I finally went to work myself.

19:37 At

19:38 Model tobacco company and I started getting a paycheck every week.

19:45 So I like that paycheck and I wasn't about to give it up.

19:52 So then you know things got a little better.

19:59 But from then on, you know.

20:03 And then I worked.

20:05 That leg has mass and then I worked at Philip Morris. Tobacco is King in Richmond and the factory 17 straight to call did tobacco row my dad at work down. There is a night Watchman.

20:24 Yeah, everybody was in the back of their butt.

20:31 But

20:32 How old it all you know, it hasn't been a bad life. How's your life been different than what you imagined? It would be when you were younger.

20:45 Cuz I imagined I was going to come to Richmond via secretary and get my own apartment and live like a queen and I wound up getting married and having a bunch of kids. I didn't do nothing but have kids now looking back. I'm okay and you feel cuz you have your kids feel like I accomplished something in life and you actually made life better for them. I mean, yeah, yeah.

21:26 The old ones had a hard time, but the young girls had it made specially you.

21:33 So do you have any regrets?

21:38 No.

21:41 Not really because I got all of y'all to show for it.

21:47 I probably would have if I hadn't had y'all.

21:51 But life turns out

21:53 Different from what you planted when you 16 years old.

22:02 So what do you think some of the important lessons that you've learned in your life?

22:09 Important lessons to work hard save your money.

22:14 I'm big on saving money. I know that I know A and B.

22:19 Kind and good-hearted.

22:24 Okay, what do you want to say anything about?

22:31 Any anything else that you like to talk about any of the kids or anything or?

22:38 I know I got some good kids. I know you moved you had to move a lot when you were younger and also.

22:51 To him. We never stayed in one place long. So when I married your daddy

22:59 Your second marriage we bought that house and I said I never want to move again. No, you're not running water bathroom at that time and have bathrooms and then eventually after you left your first husband and you had a kids there and you got into Hillside Court.

23:36 Was that that you were able to get into Hillside Court? So tell me about that cuz I remember he said that you had to meet with someone or something about applying to get into this community. Oh, yeah. Yeah, you had to not you know, the destitute just about have no money and

24:00 It'll be in the situation. I was in so I had no trouble getting in was the first time that we had had.

24:09 Pete

24:11 Without having to get up and make a fire every morning.

24:16 And you had indoor plumbing?

24:18 They're oh, yeah, it's nice place.

24:23 So

24:27 But back in it.

24:29 And I when we lived in that country.

24:33 You had those houses. You took baths in a big Wash Tub that Mama had.

24:42 And since you had to get the water.

24:47 From a well or spring and carry it.

24:53 You didn't use any more water than you had to.

24:57 So some of us would take a bath in the same water, so we wouldn't have to heat some more water.

25:06 And

25:09 So, you know right now we're like now everybody wants to take a shower everyday, but you didn't think about you took a bath once a week. I was good isolated on the farm. Basically your Playmates where your siblings you went to school, but everybody lives so far away your cousin's you used to visit them every other weekend or something you'd walk to their house and spend the weekend with them then they come back and spend the weekend with you had miles from my house and I was over here across the county line into Caroline Kennedy.

25:52 Sometimes if Daddy was able he would take us anyway a gun.

25:58 Now or strong what about a car did you know it was a long time? I know it was a Model T.

26:14 And

26:17 I learned to drive on a 1929 Ford.

26:25 But we had a model teeth before then.

26:29 Cuz Mama was going to grab it up.

26:33 Today watermelon patch. It was a model T truck and she was going to drive it up to the watermelon patch and you know get a load of watermelons and bring them back to the house.

26:49 What you couldn't turn the thing around?

26:54 So we had to walk back home.

26:56 And wait till Daddy come home to go bring the watermelon song.

27:01 Cuz she didn't know how to drive to never learned.

27:08 Do you have any other memories of growing up on the farm or growing up during the war here in or actually living during the war here in Richmond the whole lot to do but visit family your husband was in the war. Your brother was in the war ended.

27:31 And France

27:33 And

27:35 Back then, you know.

27:38 Nobody wanted to say this service man coming to the house to tell him the bad news cuz she didn't know what it was.

27:50 And

27:52 Well when we were little.

27:55 Daddy did not want a woman come into the house on New Year's Day a man had to come to the house first.

28:09 Cuz of a woman time

28:12 They would say I'm coming way up at the road way about him to go back for the whole year.

28:23 A man has to come first.

28:27 I know you spent a lot of time with your with your uncles and aunts and your your your grandmother. She had a house there. What was that called? Maple Hill Maple Hill and that was in king and queen. You were raised in Newtown. Just Newtown area king queen right post office bottom and still there.

28:55 But

28:58 Do you have any memories of getting together with your uncles and aunts? I know you have a story of?

29:04 Like Uncle Bernard who died very young in the twenties where he only had one arm that was before I remember but he didn't have the arm and

29:24 What am I overly yes members if I can remember?

29:29 And I and my oldest brother William was

29:35 Just a little bit younger than he was three years younger than me, and we were crossing this Creek and I had him by the hand. We were going over to visit my cousins.

29:49 And we saw the snake and it scared us to death we run back to the house. That was one of the earliest thing and then peeping Through the Keyhole was one of them another real early. So they told me that used to go to the black church because at that time, you know, y'all would sit outside and listen to them and back then you had black churches new act like charges.

30:25 Where we used to go to church in the wagon?

30:29 What does Pau Gasol in the wagon and that's the way we went to church?

30:35 But sometimes we would go like we went to church in the morning.

30:40 And then it late evening. We would go down to the black church just to hear him sing cuz they could really sing and you know it.

30:55 Do you have any other stories from growing up with your brothers and sisters?

31:08 Well, I burn the remember the time that Daddy.

31:12 Eat me good.

31:16 Because

31:19 The house we lived in had a porch all the way across the back.

31:25 And it was Spike two steps up and he would he had somebody I don't know whether it was friend or family.

31:33 It was talking to in the backyard and I kept jumping off the porch into this mud puddle.

31:40 He told me to stop.

31:44 And you told me two or three times to stop. Well. I told him well none of his business. That was a mistake, but he didn't say a word till I've met and left but then I had to go get my switch and he paid me good.

32:03 So I didn't say it's but him back anymore. But back then you had to cut your own switches. Yeah, you cut your own switches to get beat with and we tried cutting little bitty ones, but they hurt worse. So then we had to go to the bigger ones.

32:21 Wow, you talked about what you did for fun. But you also you played ball. Yeah, just just a sales and played house and then

32:42 Mom and Dad buy Cards like on a Saturday night, but you didn't play cards on Sunday. I was against the rules.

32:52 Now big tradition cuz I know I mean we still carried on with you and add family. It's the Sunday dinner where everybody comes over for Sunday dinner and your mother always cook this big dumb and if you want I have she get on the phone call you were married in think they're still expected to come by and Sunday for a grandma.

33:28 From my remembrance always lived with somebody she died in 1943 or so during the war. What are your memories of her.

33:46 Did you enjoy spending time with her remember any story? I like it when we were little because we used to go see.

33:57 Got Mama's mother my grandmother on her mother's side one Sunday.

34:02 This was way back when we were little.

34:07 And Terrace

34:09 Family Dollar on it the next Sunday

34:14 But I didn't like it one. None of us like going to dead as parents. We like going to my grandmother on her mother's side because she you know, she was just kind of just to let you know things go later. But Grandma Armstrong she was too particular you had to wash your hands for you to come inside the house and be sure your feet. Wet clay and remember any stories Grandma Mitchell have your grandma just remember everything she ever used to talk about or anyting. I know it's an old Cemetery Dan a country that's got a whole lot of people in it.

34:57 But

34:59 Did she talk much? I mean remember her telling stories or anything like that until stores like we tailed Stars.

35:11 Okay, would you like to share any stories that your mom needs to tell?

35:16 Okay.

35:19 Well, alright, it's recovered a lot. Is there anything you would like to say anything that we haven't talked about that you'd like to talk about in the last couple of minutes here.

35:32 Well, I'm proud of my family.

35:37 And I think I did pretty good.

35:40 And everybody tells me so what you did?

35:45 The kids you raised 9 children and basically on your own.

35:53 He worked very hard all your life.

35:56 And you made

35:59 Your children better.

36:04 He certainly did did well buy them, but I lost one anything about that.

36:13 Well, it was the saddest time of my life.

36:18 His name is William. Larry would leave he was not quite five years old. I know he was.

36:26 The whole family was sick at the time and you were on

36:32 Along with sick you're getting two minds juice.

36:37 Yeah.

36:41 I think I blocked at 8.

36:46 I just remember getting up the next morning and he was gone, but I don't.

36:56 Talk about that. I don't know the happiest part of my life. I couldn't.

37:03 It's been a lot lot of happy one of the things that

37:08 I really enjoyed.

37:11 Was that a 80th birthday party birthday party?

37:23 So is there any how would you like to be remembered?

37:30 Being generous

37:33 Warm hearted

37:35 Forgiven

37:38 Not a soft touch. Try not to be a soft touch.

37:44 But I can always be.

37:48 I try to be.

37:53 A good person, you know that I'm a lot of people told me that you're a great mother.

38:02 And I had nerves of Steel still holding on to them at 84 well, but sometimes I lose it now.