The Association

I’m done, I got nothing left. No more stories. I’ve completely run out of tales about growing up in Remington, Virginia. To some of you, I know this comes as good news. How many childhood stories can one person conjure up anyway? More than 40. That’s right, if you check the pages of this blog you will find that more than 40 stories have been published. That’s enough, it’s more than enough. Yeah I know, I could probably come up with one or two more, but why bother? Sure, there’s the story about how, in 1965, our church received notice that we would be hosting the Northern Virginia Baptist Association’s Baptist Convention in Gainesville, Virginia. Yes, I could write about that, but I won’t. There’s really not much to tell. I must have been no more than 12 or 13 at the time, so my memory is a bit foggy on the hows and what fors that went on. All I know is, as the host church, we would be responsible for providing volunteer workers during the weeklong session. They needed several of our members to stay on site for the week during the day and live overnight in the barracks or bunk houses there. All the other workers could come and go on a daily basis and be available to help during speaking events and conference sessions.

My friend Ferdinand and I jumped at the chance to spend a week at “camp”. We would spend 7 days “roughing it” in the wilderness in Gainesville, VA. But there’s nothing to report, nothing happened. We arrived, cleaned buildings (and there were a lot of buildings), picked up trash, escorted guests from one place to another and kept concession stands filled with supplies and various sundries. That went on every day for an entire week, but it was on the first day when Ferdinand and I rounded the corner of the mess hall/ cafeteria that stopped us dead in our tracks.

There, standing against the building with a Tootsie pop in her mouth, was a pretty freckled faced, red haired girl. I thought she was cute, Ferdinand thought she was beautiful and he proceeded to fall head over heels in love right then and there. She looked to be about his age, he was a year or two younger than me. Unfortunately for me, from that point on he was of no more use to me or the Association, he was hooked. Ferdinand spent every waking hour either following her or looking for her so he could follow her. And that’s all he did, followed her and watched her from afar. Most of that time was spent between working up the nerve to talk to her or trying to figure out if she was black or white. One day He leaned over from behind a tree where he was staked out waiting to see her pass by. I was sweeping the sidewalk when she rounded the corner. He whispered over to me, “She is colored, right?”, he had that crazy, bewildered look on his face that he often had. I looked at her red hair, her freckled face, deep down I could see just the tiniest trace of blackness. I whispered back, “She gotta be colored, else she wouldn’t be here”, and turned back to my sweeping. Ferdinand just stared.


Watching
OK, Ok, this isn’t her, but it’s as close as I could get on short notice.

While I was making sure the ushers had clean kerchiefs for those overcome by the spirit, the pastors had fresh pitchers of water to keep them longer at the pulpit and the guests knew how to locate their next destination, Ferdinand was somewhere hiding behind a rock or a tree, peeping, staring at his newest heart throb. That was what went on during the day, at night we took the time to find ways to get into trouble. I remember one night after our chaperone had fallen off to sleep in his bunk, Ferdinand and I decided we wanted some ice cream. And it just so happened that there was a freezer case full of ice cream sandwiches, fudge pops and popsicles in the chow hall. What else could we do, we sneaked out of the barracks, crept down the hill to the cafeteria, found an unlocked window and edge our way inside. Thirty minutes and ten or fifteen ice cream sandwiches later, to our surprise the lights inside the chow hall switched on and one of the elders who managed the site came in with our chaperone. Luckily, after a few furrowed brows and some stern warnings we got off by agreeing never to try something like that again. They escorted us back up the hill and ushered us back into our bunks.

The next day I was back at my job of weeping and wailing and my friend Ferdinand was back at his job of watching and waiting. All-in-all, it was a great week away from home. We’d never been to any type of camp before, so this was as close as we would get and better than we could have ever imagined. The week came and went, on Friday we left the site and returned home to Remington. No, Ferdinand never said more than a hello to his crush, but he had lots of memories of what might have been to hold him for summers to come. And its because the whole experience was so uneventful that I’ve decided that its not worth the telling of it. The red haired girl never knew how close she’d come to being courted. And the Northern Virginia Baptist Association will never know it’s lasting effect on us, because this one won’t be told, this one stays in the vault.

Providence

I was baptized in the Rappahannock River in the summer of 1961. My older siblings, I and quite a few of our friends from the ridge had turned our lives over to Christ at Providence Baptist Church in Remington, Virginia, only a few weeks earlier. I wasn’t even ten years old at the time and was quite reluctant about going up when the altar call was made during homecoming revival. I’ve told the much exaggerated story, once or twice, that I was so scared when my brother and sister tried to talk me into walking up to the altar with them, that to help me make up my mind, one of them pinched me so hard I jumped up out of my seat and when I landed I found myself at the pulpit standing directly in front of Rev. Tyler. But no matter how I arrived there, I couldn’t turn around then, not with the matriarch of the church, Miss Chaney, sitting right there in the aisle seat of the second row staring at me. I remember Deacon Earl Moore taking me aside and giving me a good talking to. Satisfied by my answers to his question if I was ready to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, he turned to the pastor and nodded his head. And the rest, as they say, is history.


River baptism
“Shall we gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river…”

The Homecoming anniversary at Providence was always one of my favorite memories. Only we didn’t call it homecoming when we spoke of it among ourselves, we always called it “Third Sunday in August”. Much of our entire church year revolved around the events and activities related to the third Sunday in August. Who was going to speak? Who was going to sing? And most importantly, what foods were going to be served between the morning and the evening services and who was responsible for preparing which dishes. Back then we didn’t have a dining room, so they improvised. There were four or five large oak trees that stood on the pastor’s study side of the church. Someone came up with the bright idea to use those trees as the serving area whenever meals were served.


Homecoming
Our church yard filled like this one during homecoming in August.

Long boards were constructed and used as tables, and those tables connected all the trees into a square. The ladies of the church, or Ladies Auxiliary, worked inside of the squared circle of trees preparing and serving the meals while church members and visitors lined up on the outside of the circle, waiting to be served a delicious meal. Those meals always included the best fried chicken and potato salad, arguably on the east coast. Once served it was every man for himself when it came to finding a prime location to sit and enjoy your meal. Visitors had the luxury, or disdain of sitting in their cars, their hot cars. While members usually took time to go home and change clothes for evening service or freshen up before returning to eat.

The ladies of the church spent hours preparing chicken, ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, desserts and much more. While the morning service was in full swing, the women would work feverishly setting up for dinner. The dinner was a precursor to the afternoon service, when a prominent guess speaker and choir, that had been advertised as coming for weeks in advance, would offer old timey gospel songs and a heart throbbing, fire and brimstone message that was sure to be talked about for weeks to come. Every one of those ladies were great cooks in their own rite, some famous for their potato salad, others for their fried chicken, others for their dessert. Of course, I thought my mother’s fried chicken and potato salad was the best on the planet (then and now). And I wouldn’t want to slight anyone by naming names, or by not naming names. BUT, one of my favorite memories is the combination of punch and vanilla wafers provided by Mrs. Ada Hardnett. She brought them to both church and school functions. I would go so far as to brave PTA meetings if I knew that her cookies and punch were going to be served. I’ve tried, but so far I’ve been unable to duplicate that childhood delicacy.
Many of our lives revolved around Providence back then, I spent many a Wednesday nights entertaining myself on a back row pew while the church elders conducted church meetings and many a morning in Vacation Bible School during Summer break. Yes, those were the days. I haven’t been back to the church of my childhood in a while, but I know that Providence Baptist is still going strong, still gathering at the river and still celebrating third Sunday in August just as fervently as we did way back in the day.

Just Like Hugo’s

 

How in the world could I have let myself be talked into a situation like this again? There I was crouched on the floor behind the passenger’s seat of a car, peering over the dashboard trying not to be seen. For all I knew, my friends were inside having a good old time, while I was stuck outside hoping not to be discovered or killed. I only had two white friends and they came to me telling me about this brothel they’d stumbled upon just a few miles down the road from where we worked. They wanted to go and they said I should come with them. So here I am hiding in the back of a car because my friends brought me to a place called the S&S Truck Stop. They waited until we got here to warn me that the place was full of racists, but they thought they could convince the owner to let me in. As soon as we arrived, they started making their plans. First of all, this wasn’t a truck stop at all, it was just a run down old house out in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that remotely made it like a truck stop was that it had a parking lot and there were trucks parked in it. But they were pickups, not tractor trailers or semis, just ordinary trucks driven by local yokels, with a few cars scattered about. The place seemed to be pretty busy, there were a lot of men moving about, people leaving people arriving, we sat and watched for a while. “You stay here Stan, we’ll go in and talk to the owner. I’ve been here before”. That was Joe Planko talking, “These people are all a bunch of racist rednecks and if they see you out here, there’s no telling what they’ll do. Get on the floor and stay low until we get back”. Some great idea this was turning out to be.

I’d arrived in Brunswick, Georgia only two months earlier and had already been called the N-word three times by then. I was fresh out of Navy boot camp and had been assigned to the Naval Air Station Glynco for Air Traffic Control Class "A" School, I’d told the recruiter I wanted to be an air traffic controller. The first n-word came the week after I arrived. I was walking into McDonald's at the time and a white man was coming out. He took one look at me and said “G*dd*mn N-word!” and kept walking. By the time my friends got to me I already had him on the ground banging his head against the pavement. My three friends, who were all white, separated us and told the man he’d better get out of there and forget what happened if he knew what was good for him. Well that’s what I wanted to do. What I really did was step toward the man as if I were about to pounce on him, but gave my friends enough time to get to me to hold me back. The next time that term was used on me, a white woman said it and all because I’d smiled and nodded at her. I can’t recall the reason for the 3rd time, I only know it was a man and by then I realized this was going to be a long three months if this kept happening.

I grew up in Virginia and this was the first time I’d ever been called that name. I was amazed that I had to actually leave the state for it to happen. These people in GA didn’t pull any punches, they’d get right in your face and let you know what they thought about you. They seemed to want you to know they were racists. Racial discrimination back home came at you more at an angle. The non-direct approach made it less obvious, but just as effective. For example, you might not get that car loan you applied for or the house you wanted might suddenly become unavailable. Maybe you’d find out that the land you just purchased didn’t perk, so you wouldn’t be able to put in a sewer system. I remember once when two young women from Alexandria bought an investment property near my home town. We met for an interview after I applied to rent the house and they seemed excited about the prospect of having me as a tenant. When I went by to sign the lease agreement, a man came by to welcome me to the neighborhood, even shook my hand and watched me sign the lease. As soon as I left he made his move, he threatened to burn down the house if the women let me move in. The two ladies called, crying and apologetic. They told me what the man had done and said they had no choice but to break the lease, of course I agreed. The worse case of perceived racial prejudice I encountered back home was what happened in a little corner mom and pop store out in the country, near my job. I went to this store every day for lunch and ordered a deli sandwich. This particular day when I arrived back at work I took a bite into my delicious sandwich. I noticed it had more mayo than usual and decided to take a closer look at it, that’s when I saw half of a fly right at my bite mark. I gagged at the thought of where the other half was by then. I opened the sandwich and found two more dead flies inside. Who knows how long flies had been part of my daily diet. As I thought back, I realized that every time I ordered a sandwich there the lady would take my order and then begin swatting flies. I just thought they had a lot of flies. I didn’t realize they were being used as a garnish. With these types of tactics, it was hard to prove that race had anything to do with what transpired. Maybe the woman behind the counter just didn’t like me personally, she just thought I was a smart mouthed jerk who deserved a fly in his sandwich. Maybe, just maybe, the land really DIDN’T perk and race had nothing to do with it, who knows? But if that’s the case, it sure makes for a boring story to pass down to your grand kids.

 

Most of my stay in Georgia, minus a few negative encounters, I found myself having a great time. My friends and I occupied our time most weekends on one of the nearby islands, camping out on either St. Simons or Jekyll. Our main mode of travel was by motor scooters. We went everywhere on them. Two of my classmates and close friends were female lieutenants in the Philippine Navy. We drew lots of attention whenever we putted around together on our scooters and it wasn’t always positive. The girls were in Georgia to train along side us in hopes of becoming controllers. In the U.S. Navy, enlisted personnel are trained as controllers, but in the Philippine Navy only officers could be air traffic controllers. Once the two girls and a friend and I hopped on our motor scooters and rode all the way to Jacksonville, Florida just to spend the weekend on the beach. Riding in a car was rare for me since I’d arrived in Brunswick, so I jumped at the chance whenever the opportunity arose.

 

So there I was in the back seat, on the floor, peering over the dash, waiting for my friends to come get me so I could have access to a “house of ill-repute”. It goes by another name but I won’t mention it here. I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy and these things happen. Sometimes you find yourself in some pretty awkward situations. But this awkward situation reminded me of something else, what was it? I’d found myself in a large parking lot surrounded by people who didn’t want me there on another occasion, where was that? Oh yeah! It was Hugo’s Skate Way back when I was still living in Fauquier County. I’d let two other of my white friends talk me into going to Hugo’s that night, even though we all knew there was no way I’d get through the front door. They convinced me that the party was on the outside anyway and we’d have just as much or more fun as the folks inside. After a lot of convincing, I said sure, I’ll go. We went. We parked. We watched. We waited. We got out of the car. Just like here at the S&S Truck Stop, there were a lot of pickup trucks there. There were a lot of men hanging around drinking, a lot of moving about. I stayed close to the car, leaning against the front fender, just taking in the activity. Just about everyone in Fauquier County knew that blacks weren’t allowed inside at Hugo’s. It wasn’t posted on any sign, no one had to tell you. If you were black, you just knew it, but every now and then an outsider had to learn it the hard way (Johnson v. Hugo’s Skateway, 1992). I wasn’t an outsider, so no one should be surprised that in my entire life, I’d never been inside Hugo’s establishment and had no desire to ever darken its doorway, pun intended. But none of that factors into the influence of your friends and what you will let them talk you in to doing. So we ended up in Hugo’s parking lot.

What I found somewhat odd about Hugo was that he seemed to be a “walking contradiction”. On the one hand, he was renowned in the county for being a racist who refused to allow blacks to enter his entertainment establishments, but on the other hand, he was a philanthropist who single-handedly funded the construction of a fire station for the community. By contrast, he didn’t seem to be a racist when it came to his well drilling business, he drilled many wells for black people in the community, providing clean drinking water for those families. He must have given good deals and reasonable prices to blacks, otherwise my father would never have gone to him to have our second well drilled after the well he’d picked, shoveled and dynamited by hand began to run dry. Dad could have easily gone to Leazer’s well drilling company a mile away in Remington. There could be only one reason he hired Stribling to drill the well, money! As far as the entertainment business was concerned, he seemed to be a huge racist. But when it came to community service and his service related business he was apparently open to all and fair-minded. That means, in the morning I could have my well drilled by a philanthropic, community minded entrepreneur and that evening be asked to leave or be arrested at the local skating rink, all orchestrated by the same person. So yes, you could say the man was a walking contradiction.

 

Of course, my friends decided just standing around outside wasn’t enough, they were going to mingle about a bit. They knew people, I didn’t, I stayed by the car. They left and I waited. That’s when some drunk decided he wanted to cut somebody. This guy pulled out a Bowie knife and began threatening anyone who walked his way, flailing his arm’s around, slurring his words. Since I was standing still, not moving, I guess, as with other predators, the guy just didn’t notice me. He noticed my mingling about friends and immediately went into attack mode. I minded my own business, the guy was too drunk to do any real damage anyway, I quickly jumped in the car. The boys easily evaded his moves and ran back to the car, they jumped in and we high-tailed it out of there at top speed. As we left I kept my head down and peered out the rear window, watching to see that we weren’t being followed by an angry mob. That was my complete and brief experience at Hugo’s Skate Way, I never went back. Hugo’s was eventually sold in 2005

“Over three decades, in 1978, 1989 and 1990, the skating rink was in the news over race discrimination charges.
In 1978, the FBI investigated charges of discrimination in admission and the U.S. Justice Department found that Stribling had no right to say the business was private, and that he had illegally barred blacks”

(Zitz, 2005)

.

With the S&S Truck Stop now looming in front of me, I was quickly awakened from my day dream by the sight of my three friends in the doorway. They were either struggling to escape or were forcibly being pushed out the door, I couldn’t tell from this distance. Either way, they stumbled down the rickety steps and headed, at full speed, toward me and the car. Joe jumped in behind the wheel and started the engine. He barely waited for the other two to get in before he floored it and peeled rubber down the road. As the truck stop faded in the distance, the boys breathed a sigh of relief. One of them finally spoke up and said, “Whew! We barely made it out alive! We went in, sat around a while, talked and laughed and had even picked out the girls we wanted. Then we told them that you were out here and asked if you could come in too. The owner jumped up from behind the desk and said ‘Not only can that ni**er NOT come in, but we’re gon’na kick you boys’ asses for bringing him here in the first place, now get the hell out!’, that’s when yu saw us coming through the door”. As I listened to my three best friends in the world rehash what all had gone on inside, I peered over the seat through the rear window. I watched down the road to make sure we weren’t being followed by an angry mob. No one was following us, so I leaned back and drifted off to sleep… Yep, this was just like Hugo’s (Z-z-z-z-z-z).

Sources:

OpenJurist, 974 F. 2d 1408 – Johnson v. Hugo’s Skateway, Retrieved on 2/21/2014 from: http://openjurist.org

M. Zitz, 2005, The Free Lance Star, “One Last Spin” Retrieved on 3/3/2014 from: http://fredericksburg.com

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The Christmas Spirit

Celebrate Christmas with Jack.
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A company I once worked for had an Office Christmas party one year. The party took place back in the 1970s so I am guessing the statute of limitations has expired just in case something reported here ran afoul of the laws at the time. The factory wasn’t the most pleasant place to work, but it paid a salary and we were young and that’s about all we were looking for back then. Even though we were treated relatively poorly and we once held a meeting to strike in order to force a better wage, it was still a pretty laid back environment. We did the usual joking around, teasing, etc, but we earned our pay. There was that one blemish where someone stole all of the inventory, but that is not what this tale is about. This story is about a Christmas miracle, of sorts.

As I said some time around 1979 the company held a Christmas party. My misdemeanoring and bad behavoring days are over now, so I’ll go ahead and tell the story without fear of self incrimination. The Christmas party went off without a hitch and a good time was had by all. Everyone arrived safely back home that night with cheeks aglow from good booze and great food.

The next Monday following the party, an announcement was made over the PA system that alcohol consumption had not been as heavy as anticipated and that there was a great deal of liquor left over. The person on the PA system went on to say that if anyone wanted to come up to the office, they could purchase some of the left over spirits at a reduced price. At that, several people went up and made purchases. The bulk of the liquor had been purchased in half gallon bottles, some had been opened at the party, some were still sealed, the opened bottles were being sold next to nothing. After several people returned bragging about the great deal they had gotten because management wanted to get rid of the stuff as quickly as possible, I decided to go up and take a look see for myself.

There was booze as far as the eye could see
There was booze as far as the eye could see.
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I shut down my machine, went up to the office and stood speechless in the middle of the floor, there was liquor as far as the eye could see. The bottles of booze had been placed on a table in front of the secretary’s desk. All of the usual players were there: Jack Daniels, Jim Bean, Cutty Sark, Bicardi Rum, Gins, Vodkas, plus an assortment of other brown and clear spirits. In other words, there was lots and lots of alcohol. I saw a half gallon of already opened Jack on the table and asked how much they wanted for it. “Five dollars and you can have it”, came the answer. I looked it over again and said, “But it’s already been opened”, to which they responded, “$5 take it or leave”. I told them to wait there a minute and left to go to the break room and a few seconds later I returned with a Dixie cup in hand, “For all I know, that bottle could have been half empty and someone filled it up with water, I have to make sure that’s not the case”.

I had a taste of Jack and went back to work on my milling machine.
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I opened the bottle, poured just a nip to get a taste. It tasted fine to me, nope, it hadn’t been watered down at all. I paid the five dollars, took the bottle and put it in the trunk of my car then went back to my milling machine. I had been working at my machine for a good 2 minutes when who do you think walked up to me? That’s right, the plant manager himself, “Stan, can I smell your breath? I was told you’ve been drinking on the job”, he appeared shocked at the idea that I would do such a thing right there in broad daylight, I would never drink on the job, of course. He took a sniff, shock and dismay spread across his face,
“Why, you HAVE been drinking on the job! How do you explain this?”, he was definitely in management mode now.
I responded, “I needed to make sure that what I was getting hadn’t been watered down”.
“Stan this is serious, you can’t drink on the job, we have to do something about this, why would you do such a thing?”.
I quickly replied “I haven’t been drinking on the job, I took a taste on the job and I wouldn’t have taken a taste on the job if you hadn’t been selling boot leg liquor on the job!”.

He knew I had him, he stood speechless, he promptly pivoted on his heels and beat a quick retreat back to his office. The incident was never brought up again. That marked the end of what has come to be known as “The Great Whiskey Rebellion of ’79”, no more selling left-over liquor at work. This tale has become an American tradition, read in thousands of homes in front of hearths to red nosed revilers on Christmas Eve. The story drifts listeners to sleep with dreams of old Jack Daniels waiting for them under the Christmas tree when they awake the next morn.
The End

Growing Up Colored

Copyright © 2013
All rights reserved

Saving The Griffinsburg Plantation

By Earlene V. Brown (as told to her by her grandmother Caroline Venie)

Photo/Courtesy of The Brown Family Library
Caroline Venie (Gran).
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One day during the spring of 1862, my paternal grandmother, Caroline Venie, was instrumental in saving the valuables on the plantation in which her mother and father were house slaves. The plantation belonged to Taylor Griffin. The Griffin Plantation was located in Griffinsburg, west of Culpeper. It was rumored that the Yankee soldiers, having been defeated by Confederate forces at the Battle of Bull Run, were camped in several communities nearby.

According to plantation neighbors living in Griffinsburg, Mr. Griffin was too kind to his slaves, trusting them and treating them “like they were human”. The talk in the town was that the Griffins were “off agin” on one of their trips, leaving the slaves in charge of the whole place. The day the Griffins were due back, the plantation was humming with activity. The field slaves were plowing and planting crops. Great-grandmother and the other house slaves had finished cleaning and had started cooking the mid-day meal, when one of the field hands came running in to the house shouting, “Yankee soldiers are coming this way taking horses and letting all dem slaves loose. They is all over da road.” Great grandma Venie told the field hand to go back to work and act as if nothing unusual was happening.

Caroline was asleep in her crib in a corner of the kitchen. The women had stopped working and were wringing their hands and wailing. Great-grandmother snapped, “Hush that noise and bring me a hook rug, bring all the good linen, candlesticks, silver, everything y’all kin carry. We can put them in the root cellar.” The root cellar was under a trap door which was in the middle of the kitchen floor. There was a ladder leading down into a room; shelves filled with canned goods were on the walls. Bins with potatoes and onions were on the floor. Salt pork hung from the ceiling. The women put all the things they’d had time to grab in the cellar. Great grandmother closed the trap door and placed the hook rug over it. She then pulled the crib with Caroline in it on top of the rug. She watched the road until the soldiers were in the yard. She cautioned the women to remain quiet, pulled the rocking chair beside the crib and shook the baby awake, which started it crying.

The soldiers pushed their way into the kitchen, not bothering to knock. Great grandma was rocking the crib and singing when one of the soldiers walked over to her and demanded she be quiet. He asked, “Where is your master? Where does he keep the food? We need supplies.” Great grandma started talking in such heavy dialect he couldn’t understand her. He turned and ordered his men to search the house. He muttered, “You all probably don’t know where nothing is anyway.” He looked at the trembling women and said, “You all can leave now, you’re free.” Nobody moved.

Freed slaves in Culpeper, VA – “Contraband” of the war.
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The Yankee soldiers came back after searching the house, complaining they did not find food or anything they could use. The soldier who had given the women permission to leave said, “We came all this way fighting and you folks don’t even want to be free.” Some of the men took the steaming kettles of food from the fireplace and went out and put it into a supply wagon they had driven into the yard.

“Lordie, Venie” one of the women said when she was able to talk, “Massa will have a fit if he hear you talk like you did to them soldiers. You know how he make us talk in the house on account of the children talking plain.” Venie sniffed, “It worked, didn’t it? He gave up trying to figure out what I was saying. I hardly understood myself.”

Photo/Courtesy of the Brown Family Library
The crying baby in the story, Caroline Venie.
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A short time later the Griffins arrived home. They looked shocked when everything appeared to be in order. Old man Griffin hurried into the house to check on the women. The slaves who came out to unload the wagon came behind him carrying the luggage, telling him that the soldiers taken some horses and hay. Mr. Griffin told them how worried the family had been. “We expected the worse. Almost all the plantations between here and Culpeper lost their slaves with the owners on the place. Venie, why didn’t you all tell them where the food was and leave?” Great grandmother said, “Cause we wouldn’t have had nothing for our suppers that way. They told us to leave, but they didn’t say where we was to go.” Mr. Griffin went out of the kitchen laughing. He turned and called back, “Venie, keep that rug handy. We might need it again before the war is over.”

The Federal Census shows Caroline Viny as being part of the Griffin household in 1880.

Census data courtesy of The National Archives
1880 United States Federal Census – Virginia | Culpeper | Salem | District 0021
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Earlene Brown, a Remington, Virginia resident, this story was passed down by the grandmother who raised her, the crying baby in this story.

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Revised: Sept. 2013

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