They did have little dolls for the girls

Posted by | December 4, 2015

“Late fall we’d start getting up the wood for the winter. You couldn’t believe it would take that much wood. You would see wood from here, well, say a hundred feet long. You would think, well, golly, that’s a lot of wood! But it didn’t take long to get rid of that much wood in the winter. The winters were rough and it was cold back then.

“Oak was our better wood. We had plenty of wood and plenty of water.

“We had a two-story home. We had one large bedroom, Daddy and Mother’s bedroom, downstairs. We had a large kitchen, a large living room, and they called the other room at that time, a parlor. That was for guests or visitors. There was the parlor. When the preacher came, he goes in the parlor. Then, upstairs we had four bedrooms. The two rooms downstairs on either side had fireplaces.

“We had a fireplace on the south side and one across on the north side across the hall, and we had a large hall. We had a large hall that came through with some closets and then the upstairs. No heat upstairs, but the heat would come up from the fireplaces. I mean, the heat goes up.

“It was colder, but we used featherbeds. You would sleep on a featherbed. One time Mother came up, it was real cold in the winter, and put a featherbed over us for the cover over top. Golly, you would just perspire!

“My brother and I would open a window. When it would be zero, we would crack a window. We always liked a little fresh air. We were used to it. We didn’t know about all of these new– modern things then. It’s what you were used to, I imagine.

“There was a lot of snow. There’s nowhere to go, but you could get on a horse and go to the store, the country store, which was something like a mile away, if you had to. But you could get along fine. We would get our big fireplaces going. Had apples. Now, we would eat apples. We would always have a basket of apples in the living room. We’d all eat apples. Maybe before bedtime have an apple, peel an apple and have some apple.

“The children didn’t have many things to do, but they would get together and have candy pullings in the winter, and games, different kinds of games. The ladies would get together in the winter time and make quilts; they’d have quiltings; they had the frames that had the spikes in them. They’d make some beautiful quilts.

“But the boys didn’t have too much a-going. When the New River would freeze over we would go skating. We would skate on top of ice. It would stay frozen over for maybe two months! The river was almost in sight of where we lived. It was about one-fourth of a mile to New River. It starts up in Ashe county; they call it the head of the river. You can step over it two feet there. Today you could go there. The north fork of New River starts in Ashe County. It sure does.

“Mother would have something special, cook up something special for Christmas, like cakes. We always had cake. For Christmas you didn’t get much. There wasn’t much. One little country store close by. There were more in the county, but they had nothing for children. We would get some oranges (they had oranges for Christmas) and some candy. I know stick candy. They had these boxes of stick candy, different flavors. But we thought it was great, whatever we got! We didn’t know about these other things like they have nowadays. Oranges were something special. Of course we had apples. You know, apples, oranges, candy.

Lenci doll ca. 1920, High Point, NCLenci doll on display at the Angela Peterson Doll and Miniature Museum, High Point, NC. Tag in case reads: “Lenci Doll Circa 1920. Designed by Madame de Scavini. The name “Lenci” came from a pet name given to Madame de Scavini by her husband. The designer was known for the mischievous look in the eyes of her dolls.”

“We had plenty to eat, and we would get something to wear for Christmas, like a new shirt or a new pair of pants or a new pair of shoes. One neighbor (his name was John Eller), made my brother and me a little mill, and it had a crank on it. You would turn it by hand.

“You would take it down along the creek, and we would run sand through it and have a lot of fun with that. We would use sand. It was like a little gristmill, or like you were grinding some kind of grain. We thought that was wonderful.

“We had no toys; however, there were dolls. As I remember they did have little dolls for the girls. My father and mother would get the girls a little doll.”

—excerpt from oral history by Gwynn Jones
(b. 1908 in Warrensville, NC)

Interviewed June 22, 1976
Southern Highlands Research Center
Louis D. Silveri Oral History Collection,
D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections,
University of North Carolina at Asheville
Online at

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