Down in West Virginia, we decorated the tree with candles. We had an old jack pine. Up here, people wouldn’t even think about having one in their yard. But that was the only evergreen we had there. They had cedars, but they weren’t good for Christmas trees. We had to go two miles or so over the ridge and around the hills to find them, bring them in. Dad made a stand to put them in.
We hung presents on the tree. We had very few presents. One year Mom saw a coat in town and she wanted it so bad. Dad told her it was more than he could afford. He knew she wanted it. The preacher, Bill Yoke, came to visit, and he had his brother with him. His brother and his brother’s wife were school teachers. So the brother told Mom.that she and his wife were about the same size and that he would like her to go with him. He said: “Ask Fred if you can go along to try on this coat to see if it fits.”
Mom was hurt because that was the coat she wanted. But it fit her just fine. Christmas morning, it was hanging on her tree in place of his —she got that coat
We usually got pretty good gifts until during the Depression. Dad got laid off. Now he had been with the gas company for 18 years and if you were there 19 years, you got to retire with a pension. If they could get rid of them before 19 years, they didn’t have to pay a pension. They got rid of Dad. They got rid of an awful lot of them. Mr. Casey, Steve Casey, he was one of these guys that had been in 18 years and he got laid off when Dad did. He was in good health when he was working. He didn’t last a year and he died.
When Dad got laid off, we had to move up to Grandad’s place (Grandad Droddy’s) to live in the house he had up there. It was a washhouse. We had an upstairs —one room upstairs and one downstairs. That’s where we all slept. There if we had anything for Christmas, it was just rabbits. Didn’t have turkey or chicken, we just didn’t have very much of anything. A lot of times, we might have cornbread and beans. Or potato soup, that was our Christmas meal
But, my great uncle, Dad’s uncle George Droddy, he would have a bushel of oranges sent from Florida and that was a real treat: some oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit. That was really a treat for Christmas. But we might have cornbread and beans or cornbread and potato soup and oranges for Christmas. We didn’t have presents for anybody. Things were really rough before I went to the service. After we came back, then we had a normal Christmas. It just wasn’t too good before that.