Anne "Granmaw" Hamilton

Interviewed by: Coleman Hamilton
Date: April 16, 2007

Coleman Hamilton reports:

"Anne Hamilton, my grandmother, is a person who has experienced a lot. She was born July 2, 1918, in Bland. Virginia. She worked most of her life at Tultex textile factory in Bastian, Virginia, as manager/supervisor. She retired in 1991 and moved to Claytor Lake where she has lived for as long as I can remember. She is a very active woman for her age, still gardening and mowing the grass. She usually goes to Texas for the winter but missed her trip this year due to a second hip replacement. She was back to walking within a month and now is trying to tend her garden in the unusually cold weather. She is a very ambitious woman to say the least. She has helped to raise several children, but only one was her own, and my father is her stepson. "

Interviewer: What year where you born in?

Hamilton: I was born in 1918 ... Uh. July 2, 1918, yeah that's it. [Interviewer comments: Grahmaw claims she was born in 1918 during this interview; it seems to change every time we ask her, so we estimate that she is about 93 years old which would make her DOB around 1914. For as long as I can remember, Grahmaw has been 89 which is what the 1918 date would make her.]

Interviewer: Where did you live?

Hamilton: I lived at ... uh ... Hollybrooke. I was born in Hollybrooke or NoBusiness. [Interviewer comments: Both of these places are relatively the same place, and are districts of Bland.]

Interviewer: When did you move from Bland?

Hamilton: I lived in Bland 77. No well 79 ... No, I retired in 1971 that's how long. [Interviewer comments: I think that she means she retired when she was 77, and in 1991, this confusion may be because her age is eternally 89.]

Interviewer: What are some of your earliest memories?

Hamilton: I believe ... playing around with my granddaddy, he was a black smith, who made horseshoes n'stuff, and I pumped the bellowes, that's what blew air in tha' fire and made it hot so ya' could work tha' metal. That's probably the funniest job I had.

Interviewer: What was Bland like before the interstate system went in?

Hamilton: A Poor county. A lot'a poor people, and poor school systems. Maybe one store. Well probably three grocery stores one in Bland, Bastian, and Rocky Gap. People mostly traveled by buggy. Dr. Wagner, the only doctor we had in Bland who had the first car, but I don't remember much about it or what it was.

Interviewer: Did you go to other towns very often?

Hamilton: Bluefield! We went to Bluefield, I would ride a logg'n truck to tha' foot of East River Mountain then ride'a bus into town from there. That's the way we traveled.

Interviewer: About how often did you go and how long did it take?

Hamilton: Took about two hours both ways. Cause we had to wait on tha' truck, maybe we went once a week.

Interviewer: What did you usually go to town for?

Hamilton: We went for clothes and groceries, and sometimes we went to the dentist, there wasn't one in the town.

Interviewer: What year was the interstate put in?

Hamilton: I don't remember exactly. Let's see ... hmm ... well I just don't remember you'll have to ask somebody else.

Interviewer: Where you still in Bland at the time?

Hamilton: Oh yeah I was still working at the factory when they changed tha' roads. [Yells back] Daddy! When did the interstate go in ... well figure it up ... ah never mind Daddy [back to interviewer] if your written my history my granddaddy pulled teeth.

Interviewer: So he was a dentist?

Hamilton: No he just pulled'm, if somebody had a toothache, he didn't do fill'ns or nuth'n, I still have the pliers somewhere.

Interviewer: Was there a noticeable change in Bland immediately after the interstate or did it take a while, if so about how long?

Hamilton: It didn't take a few years maybe five or six.

Interviewer: What where those changes?

Hamilton: More people moving to Bland. Wasn't nobody in Bland cause there was no jobs, no industry ... no money.

Interviewer: How long did it take for the interstate to start to be crowded?

Hamilton: It didn't take long. A lot of traffic from Wytheville and Bluefield a lot of it goin' South towards Wytheville.

Interviewer: When did semi-trucks start to run the interstate, and when did they reach the number we have today?

Hamilton: They started right away. In 1934, we had some, but the road wasn't in ... but yeah. There was a lot more as soon as the interstate opened.

Interviewer: After the interstate was installed did you start going to other towns more often?

Hamilton: We started to go to Wytheville more ... instead of Bluefield. No we went once a week, too expensive to go more.

Interviewer: Did you go for the same reasons?

Hamilton: Yeah we went for that same reasons.

Interviewer: Did you like Bland better before the interstate or after?

Hamilton: I like it now cause we can go more places and see more people. I like to travel now, I used to hafto for that factory. The interstate went in, and then shortly after, we got more county roads, and that made it easier to travel.

Interviewer: Do you think that Bland would have turned out the same without the interstate system?

Hamilton: No it would have no manufactories, just farms. Without the interstate Bland wouldn't have been built up.

Interviewer: Do you think that the people of Bland are different now due to the interstate system?

Hamilton: Yes. We have all different class or people now. We used to all be one family, go to one church. We used to know our next door neighbors now you don't. Everybody does everything different, there own way. Now you don't know people, you don't know your neighbors just family.

Interviewer: What types of industry did the interstate bring to Bland?

Hamilton: First, there was a hosiery mill and then a longjohn/overall factory, but later it got bought by a company in NYC. I don't know what happened to the rest of them just this'n. Third, there was the State Farm and the correction farm, which provided a lot of jobs. Fourth, there was the Tultex Textile Factory, where I worked, it was the biggest employer. Later on, we had a Chevy and a Ford garage . . . I bought my first Ford in 1921 [Interviewer comments: when she was three if she was born in 1918] for $725 brand new, two-door, from Guy Dunn. Can you believe that $725 that's less than you paid for your old Jeep?