Lettie Marie Cassell

Interviewed by: Shawn Cassell
Date: April 7, 2007

Shawn Cassell reports:

"My grandmother, Marie Cassell, is one of the most colorful characters in the Ceres community. She has seen her share of hard times, and has taken them with a smile on her face. Her husband, Filmore Cassell, is a World War 2 veteran, retired Brunswick supervisor, and Treasurer of Red Oak Methodist Church. Though she has never had a "job," she has always had as much work as anyone could possibly ask for. From the grueling labor in the fields and with the livestock, to her most recent chores of looking after her grandchildren, Marie Cassell is one hard working lady. "

Interviewer: When and where were you born?

Cassell: In Suitor, Virginia, above Virginia Harwood along the railroad track in a little. I imagine, bout' four roomed downstairs and two little rooms upstairs, house on August the twelfth, 1926.

Interviewer: What is your earliest memory?

Cassell: We moved up to Trinity community, and I 'member my two younger brothers layin' on a blanket in the yard just a playing.

Interviewer: Where did you spend the majority of your childhood?

Cassell: In the Red Oak community in Ceres.

Interviewer: What was it like to live during the Great Depression?

Cassell: Well, it was kinda hard. We all worked on the farm, ate what we raised, and made most of our clothes. But we didn't know it was hard cause everybody lived the same way.

Interviewer: What measures did your family take to save money during the depression?

Cassell: Well, we just saved, daddy managed the money and did save some, but as I said, we supported ourselves.

Interviewer: What was your daily routine when you were a kid?

Cassell: Well, got up and dressed, walked to school, which was something like a mile and a half. Came home, changed clothes, went out and brought water from the spring, wood from the woodhouse, fed the chickens, the ducks, the turkeys, sometimes we had to cross another hill to bring the turkeys home before it got dark. We also fed sheep and milked the cows. We went to bed by nine o'clock every night.

Interviewer: What was your childhood home like?

Cassell: We lived with our grandmother, and it was a two-story big house. She kept one half of the front part, so I had to sleep in the hall, upstairs. My brothers got the big room, and my sister slept in the dining room. It was a large room and had a bed in it. My sister slept downstairs, and I slept up. It was a spacious house with a fireplace as heat. I remember sitting around in a row to keep warm. Had no radio until 19 and 38.

Interviewer: What were your parents like?

Cassell: Well they were medium build and well mannered. Religious, there were no bad words in our house, ever. Daddy was the head of the house, and he told mommy to manage the cookin' and the cleanin' and he'd manage the rest. What daddy said went.

Interviewer: After chores, what did you do for fun?

Cassell: Aww, we played checkers and dominoes, and Chinese checkers.

Interviewer: How did you like school?

Cassell: I loved school.

Interviewer: What were your favorite subjects?

Cassell: Spelling and reading.

Interviewer: Did you ever consider college?

Cassell: I never even heard of college when I was a little girl. My education was at the hoe handle in the fields a hoeing stuff like corn, fields of corn.

Interviewer: What were some of your favorite activities growing up?

Cassell: Riding a horse, haulin' hay shocks. You know what that is? They piled hay about four foot tall, and we would pull the horse up to the hay shock. A neighbor man would put a chain around one side of it, and he would a pitch fork on the back of it until we got started, so it wouldn't turn over. We'd drag 'em say fifth of a mile to a stack and unhooked it and stacked the hay around a pole. Then after chores, we would play ball down in the front yard in the summertime. And on Sundays, we would play games like base, which was where there were two lines of parents and children interacting in some way, but I can't remember the rules on the that. In the wintertime, we rode downhill on sleds an awful lot, and skated on ice, and played fox and goose in the snow. And of course every night after supper we played games, that was a daily routine at our house was to play games.

Interviewer: In the late 1930's, before the U.S. joined World War 2, what did people in southwest Virginia think about the war?

Cassell: Well, we was all for it I guess, all the boys was over there. Each family kept one son though.

Interviewer: What did you think about the war?

Cassell: Well we had no choice, it was sort of forced on us.

Interviewer: What was it like on the home front?

Cassell: Save, save, save, we bought bonds for ten cents and added 'em up in books and we saved coupons. We had little coins to buy gas and food with, they was about the size of a dime.

Interviewer: Were Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, or Emperor Hirohito household names?

Cassell: Yes, they were hated.

Interviewer: Did people here know about the Holocaust?

Cassell: To a certain extent yes, but we didn't realize just how bad it was.

Interviewer: What was it like when Germany surrendered?

Cassell: Jubilant.

Interviewer: How did you view the atomic bomb?

Cassell: Awful, it was terrible the destruction that was caused on all of the people.

Interviewer: Was life better before or after the war?

Cassell: After.

Interviewer: How did living through the depression and the war shape you as a person?

Cassell: I don't know, I guess it made me a better person because you realize that you need to get along with your brothers and sisters and even if they are evil we don't have to be evil.