Judy Anderson -
School Days, Part 3

February16, 2000, from interviews summer 2009

- Susan Freis Falknor


Over a Century...
Family Stories
School Days
Bob & Ellen Jones
Judy & Bud
From Judy's Attic

Susan. And what do you remember about going to school?

Judy. Oh, it was great. We'd walk to school. We had three classrooms: first and second grade together, then third and fourth grade in another room, and the next classroom was fifth, sixth, and seventh. And the year that I was to go to seventh grade, they sent us to Round Hill.

We had three teachers, one of whom was the principal, Mrs. Welsh. The bathrooms were in the basement. The boys had to walk around the building, go down those steps on the right hand side of the building. The boys bathrooms were in the basement but didn't have an inside entrance. You know, in the winter, it was hard.

Photo on right shows the Bluemont School as it is today--the Bluemont Community Center.

We had a cook named Mrs. Iden. She rode the bus, she didn't drive. She lived in Bloomfield. She was an excellent cook. And after we had all got our plates and had sat down and everything, she would come around to the table with more servings, does anybody want seconds? She made everything -- cookies, the whole thing. She did all that cooking in the kitchen there in Bluemont.

Her sister was the cook at Round Hill school. But I don't know what her sister's name was because Iden was her married name.

Susan. What bus was this?

Judy. Mrs. Iden rode the school bus with her son. He went to school in Bluemont. They lived in Bloomfield. They rode the school bus in and then after school they went back home.

We had one boy, I won't mention his name, but he was always in trouble, and had to stay in a lot after school. And-- this was my worst memory of Bluemont school-- I was walking to school one morning and he said to me, "Boy, you're in trouble!" Something like that. Well I was very shy, and I reacted, "Why, what could I be in trouble for?"

Well, what had happened was that the older classes cleaned the bathrooms. And I was one of the ones finishing up the bathroom, cleaning up at the end of the day. When I finished I locked the basement door, like we always were supposed to, and went home. I didn't go into the classroom where he was being held after school for misbehaving. If he hadn't been there, I don't know what would have happened. He heard this hollering. Mrs. Welsh, our teacher and the principal, had gone down to check the furnace room and I had locked her in the basement. Fortunately he had to stay in that day, because he was around to let her out.

I was scared to death to go to school. He tells me this while we were walking to school. I had locked her in the basement. It was the worst thing I ever did. I never got into trouble. I was so scared. Thank goodness he was there, he heard her hollering and he went to see what was going on and she was locked in. That's my worst memory. It's funny-but it wasn't at the time. I didn't really get into trouble. The principal knew I would never do anything like that on purpose.

Susan. Do any other kids stand out?

Judy. Oh gosh, all of 'em do. The Lloyd boys, who lived across the street from us in the house that is beside the old post office. And we all hung around together. And Emily Reid lived beside me. She and I were really good friends. And Billy and J.D. Dawson, they lived in the house next to you, on the left as you face your house [33710 Snickersville Turnpike]. And Libby Dawson (now Stearn) lived in the house next to it. Bonnie and Connie Smith lived next to the store and of course, Winnie Osburn (now Kelley) was there on weekends, visiting her Aunt Freddie at 33718 Snickersville Turnpike.

Picture on left shows Judy and Winnie Osburn with pet dog, in front of Aunt Freddy's house, around 1945.

One other memory I had was about Ruth's Home on Railroad Street. Miss Alley had the first TV in Bluemont. Some of the kids in town used to go up there and watch TV with "her" children. It was a very small screen and it seems like it was round, but I'm not sure. Anyway, she had a glass bowl on top of it and we had to put in coins to watch. I don't remember a set price, but whatever change you had, I think. It was quite exciting at the time!

I have an "Out of the Attic" (and literally, it was out of my attic) article with a picture of that house when it was Willow Brook Academy, prior to being a hotel and a home for mentally and physically handicapped children. It's a great picture. [Willowbrook Academy, later Ruth's Home, on the right.]

Susan. Have you ever heard any weird stories or legends about houses in Bluemont?

Judy. Well, I don't know of any, what did you say, legends. No. But we had some characters in Bluemont, Mr. N ____ was one of them. And we were always kind of leery of him. And one time Emily and I were trick or treating and we came to his house and he insisted we come in and he started giving us stuff in our bags. And then he went over and locked the door. We were really nervous. A lot of the young girls weren't really sure about Mr. N_____. But he just wanted company for a while I guess. He unlocked the door after a short visit, but we were two nervous girls!

And there were some bootleggers. There were a couple of those I remember in Round Hill.

Then there was Luther and Henry Starkey. They were characters. They still have relatives here. They lived above the E.E. Lake store in an apartment. And kids loved 'em, loved to come around and hear their stories. They always had lots of stories and they wouldn't harm a flea. They were great, but they were characters.

Susan. By character, you mean older fellows who had been around and knocked around a long time?

Judy. John Hyland was a character. He lived there in the house that is still there beside Betty and Sonny Colbert, the dilapidated one. He was a single man. Just strange… different. He was somebody people would talk about because he was so odd.

One of the biggest characters was Kitty H. She lived in Florida but she came up here back to the little cabin back in the woods.

Right: A recent photo of the log house (built in 1825) originated as Bluemont's first school, the Snickersville Academy, which was located on Butcher's Branch on the H. property

Her real name was "Catalina," but I didn't find that out until much, much later. Everybody called her "Mrs. H." or "Kitty."

She was quite a character. She never threw anything away. She lived up there in that little cabin with snakes and whatever around her.

She loved it. And in later years she ended up staying, first with Isabelle Dawson and later with the Colberts. And she was just so unique. She would pick apples, for example, that may have been too over-ripe and ship them to Florida. She was the original recycler. She didn't throw anything away. She would use these coupons that came in the mail for note paper. She'd write on the back of them. And one time she gave her notes to the minister to read, something she wanted him to announce or whatever, and we all laughed because, when he held it up to read it, it was written on a coupon for some kind of lingerie-real sexy lingerie. We thought, of all things to pick to give to the minister. But that was Kitty. She was an amazing person. She knew her Bible, she was a strong-based woman, but she was eccentric. And everybody around Bluemont knew her.

Susan. Was this the same cabin called the Snickersville Academy? The first schoolhouse?

Judy. I'm not sure. But we used to go walking up that way. I remember one time Emily and I walked up that way to that foundation, it used to be a Black church, I believe, and we climbed up on it. And we were walking around it, just doing our thing. And we looked down. Now as I remember, maybe it wasn't that big -but in the memory of a child it seemed big, all these black snakes were coming up that wall. We were petrified ? afraid to jump, to do anything. There were snakes everywhere on that mountain. And that was one of our adventures that we had to tell about when we got back. We were scared to death. We were scared to come down, we were scared to stay up. And it seemed like in my mind, that snakes were everywhere. It seemed as if they were just coming up out of the earth and swallowing up that stone foundation. Standing up there, we were scared to death. Finally we just jumped and ran.

A recent photo on the left shows the house on Rail Road Street, next to the E.E. Lake Store, where the Bob and Ellen Jones family lived in while Judy was growing up.

There was one other adventure where we got really scared. There was a man that lived as a caretaker in the house right after the new post office. I don't remember who lived there then, but this man was a black man and his name was F_____. And we were all scared of him -- the story was he was an ex-convict. Whether he was or not, I don't know.

But he had a really mean dog -- it was a German Shepherd I believe. And one day when we were walking over in those fields, where the post office is now, this dog cornered us. And he had a very silent mean look about him. We were all afraid of him. We just stood stock still. We didn't know what to do. He just stood there going "Ahrrrrrrrrrr." A deep, deep growl, and we were so scared. Finally we tried to get close together, and one of us started moving and then the other one. And he actually backed down. We were just in awe. We didn't know what had happened. We went home and that was another one of our stories of what happened to us during the day.

It was really amazing, looking back. We were just on our own as to where we went and what we did.

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