The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

March 10, 2014

Life in Stringtown was full of hard work, simple pleasures


I had a chance to visit recently with an old friend, Alene Perkins Long.

Alene and her husband Ralph were once residents of Newby. During our “Snow Days” in Florida, they again lived close to us. Ralph has since passed on and Alene now lives in town.

Alene and her siblings grew up in Stringtown, down Tates Creek Road, close to Taylor Chapel Methodist Church, which is no longer there; so don't go looking for it. Alene and her twin brother Eugene were the youngest of the children.

On Sunday afternoons, she and Eugene loved wading in Silver Creek, turning over rocks and searching the banks to see who could catch the most snakes. Eugene usually won.

They never took the snakes home, for which I’m sure their mother was thankful. They let them go after taking a careful count.

Sometimes they just went swimming. At times they would have to pull leaches off themselves.

Alene says she can’t imagine doing those things today!

They entertained themselves with games like “Annie, Annie Over.” The children got on opposite sides of the house. One threw the ball over the top to the other side. If someone on the other side didn’t catch it, they would yell Annie, Annie Over. They then could sneak around the house and try to hit someone on the first side. If you were the one hit, you had to join the other team. You won by taking all the other team’s players.

They attended Miller School on Tates Creek, also now gone, and went on to Central.

One of Alene’s favorite teachers was Mrs. Lillian Warren. When I asked what was special about her, she said, “She was just so kind. I think she liked me, too.”

She also liked Ms. Greene in first grade. As she told me this, she pointed to a picture on a nearby table of herself and her twin, Eugene, in first grade at the time.

Of her school days, she says if she had to do it over again, she would study harder.

After school, they returned home to their mother’s (Nellie White Perkins) kitchen full of wonderful smells. Her mother cooked on a coal stove with a warming closet on top. A warning from their mother usually greeted them. “Don’t get into that. That’s for supper,” she’d say.

“She was a good cook, but we often had pancakes, and I don’t like pancakes,” Alene said.

On her seventh birthday, her grandmother Lovey Perkins gave her seven cents. She felt so rich! She couldn’t wait to go to Witt’s Store, about a half mile down the road. When she got there she bought delicious candy, but she watched how much she spent. She just couldn’t bring herself to spend all of that seven cents.

She met her future husband at a party given by Nancy Curry at Forest Hill. They dated for two years, married and raised two children.

She told of a time Ralph was working second shift. He came home one night and told her he had just heard a really eerie sound that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Alene had all ready heard it. She told him it was nothing to worry about; it was just coyotes.

She also said poor Ralph was the worst fire builder. He didn’t think kindling was needed, so he would make a pile of larger pieces, get a spark and off to the barn they would go for chores.

They raised tobacco and had six cows to milk. Ralph would milk three and Alene the other three, then back to the house they went, to a cold house. The fire always went out.

But, he grew really good onions and would bring some to Florida when they went. He would bring them in the legs of panty hose with a knot tied between each one and hang them on the sun porch.

Really clever way to keep them, don’t you think?


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