Winnie Kelley - Growing up in Bluemont - 1950s

May 11, 2009, from an interview by Susan Freis Falknor, February 21, 2009


Growing up in Bluemont - 1950s
About "Aunt Freddy"
Wedding in Bluemont Village - 1962
On the merits of donkeys

I was curious as to a little background on yourself, your mother and father.  Could you tell me a little about them and where you did grow up?

Winnie: My mother and her family came here from West Virginia.  They lost the farm in the Depression.  It was where Ralph Cochran had a dairy, off Foggy Bottom.  They moved to Hillsboro.  I guess mother was probably married at that time.  She was postmistress of Bluemont for years.  When she became ill she had to give that up – about 1948.

Susan: So she worked in the Lake Store Post Office with all the fancy pressed-metal mailboxes?

Winnie: Exactly.  I have a photo of her standing out in front of it with one of the ladies that worked with her, Dorothy Wolford Harper.

Winnie: My uncle’s name was Wesley Carbaugh.  He was my mother’s brother.  He lived next to the [Bluemont United Methodist] church.  The house used to be pink.

Susan: How did your mother and father meet?

Winnie: I have no idea.

Susan. But were they both from around here?

Winnie: Daddy [Randall Harrison Osburn] was from the Bluemont area and when Mother’s family moved from West Virginia, of course.  I guess she got the Post Office.  He was much older than Mother.  Actually, he was 63 when I was born.

Susan: Let’s see now.  Your father kept the store…

Winnie: Yes, but not the main store.  Aunt Freddie [Winifred Simpson Osburn Foerster, (1883-1968)] had the main store.  Daddy didn’t keep it for long — not as long as Aunt Freddie kept hers.  Aunt Freddie had what they call the Snickersville General Store.  That’s what she had.  Daddy was just down the road in the E.E. Lake store — that is, the building.  At one time they had painted on the window “Osburn Cash Grocery”—that was years ago.

I didn’t have any brothers and sisters.  I was the only child, because Mother was 40 when I was born.  And I was born at my grandmother’s house in Hillsboro.  No hospital.  But Mother got sick when I was in first grade.  So after that she had to go live with my grandmother; she was paralyzed for a while.  Aunt Freddie took care of her at first.  There was a room off the dining room in the house, in the back.  That’s where mother recuperated, in that room.

Susan: Was it a stroke?

Winnie: Stroke and a heart attack at the same time.  Can you believe, she never went to the hospital.  Aunt Freddie took care of her.  And then in about September—this happened May or June that she got sick—in the store—she fell. Then in September we went to live at my grandmother’s in Hillsboro.  And Daddy stayed in Bluemont, living with Aunt Freddie.  They got along just like brothers and sisters do (laughs).

Aunt Freddie slept in the larger bedroom, upstairs at the back of the house.  When Winnie’s father lived there he slept downstairs, in the little room off the dining room in the back (today the laundry room), “probably because he couldn’t get up the stairs.”  The front upstairs bedroom was the guest room where Winnie would stay..

Susan: You said that that you spent summers in Bluemont?

Winnie: Every other weekend.  Once we went to live with my grandmother I’d come every other weekend to see Daddy.  My mother didn’t drive, and wouldn’t have been able to even if she’d had a permit.  Aunt Freddie would come to get me on Friday afternoon.

Dad went to live with Aunt Freddie when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade.  Mother tried to come back to live in Bluemont but she just couldn’t make it on her own.  She was unable to.  She didn’t have to have constant care, but there was just so much that she couldn’t do.  She couldn’t do much housework, couldn’t cook, and I think my grandmother felt better with her at home.

Susan: When did your mother pass away?

Winnie: In 1965.  Daddy died in 1963, Aunt Freddie died in about 1977 or maybe earlier, in a nursing home there at the end.  She said she wouldn’t move in with any of her relatives because: “No home is big enough for two families.”  She was very independent.  And I guess she had to be.