Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


December 21, 2013

Christmas time’s a-comin’ along with donuts and the Powhatan Arrow

— — What a Saturday — Christmas not until Thursday. The weather was good but Gladys and Alfred were on the way from Maryland along with Rudy and Hazel. In Jenkinjones, Grandma and Grandpa Dollinger were cooking at their house and Grandma Dalton already had her menu planned so my Uncle Gene, who was off for the Christmas break from Pocahontas High School, could relax.

We couldn’t. Daddy took off work from Gary No. 14, Mom had a grocery list, and I was glad to be on the road again. The ’53 Ford only needed two dollars’ worth of gas at Uncle Jabo’s Gulf station and we were off. Cold and gray outside, but warm inside the car. I noticed Mrs. Sallie Sublett walking back from Abbs Valley School and figured she must have gone over to check on something. Next year, I could start school over there.

Mr. Morrall had the Morning Star Restaurant lit up and down the Valley Abe Joyce was sweeping the front step at his store. Coal cars were backed almost all the way to the Boissevain tipple and Daddy said it wouldn’t be long until that load moved. There had been a strike settled a few weeks earlier and he said he would soon be getting $2 more a day, up from $22.25 for every shift. He and Mom felt pretty good about that.

Pocahontas looked bright with all the street lights and the windows over the Poca Fuel Company store and the Rexall Drug Store twinkled with holiday decorations. We waved at Taft Wagner when we passed his store at Falls Mills. That was where I got my first fishing rod back in the summer and caught a fish a few miles up the hollow in Mud Fork creek.

Once we got through the culvert in Bluefield we had to make a quick stop at New Graham Pharmacy so I could get a Sporting News copy and Mom could check on a watch with Ted White at Virginia Ann Jewelry. “Bus” McNeer at the drug store told Dad he thought Cincinnati would beat St. Louis in the next baseball season and then they both started talking about basketball. Mr. McNeer’s son, Tom, was there and he had gone to see West Virginia beat VMI at the auditorium near Mitchell Stadium. They all agreed that Jerry West was going to be a great one and Daddy said that the high school star, Rod Thorn, might be even better once he finished at Princeton High School and went on to college.

Mom got back and we headed up the avenue, past Bluefield Supply, Bluefield Hardware and Superior-Sterling. National Electric Coil was working some folks and we stopped across the street to go into Blank’s Wallpaper and Paint store. There in the window was a Jon Nagy “Learn to Draw” set I wanted for Christmas but Dad said we would just wait in the car while Mom went in.

I could hardly wait to get going because Clark’s Department Store had their Toyland open and there was a new electric train set to look at. Mom said if we couldn’t make it, we might come back Tuesday because Cox’s would be open until 8:30 and we could get something there. We parked below the Episcopal Church and walked up the hill past the Bluefield Sanitarium and around the Bluefield Daily Telegraph office next to the Sunset News-Observer.

It must have been a big day because Mel Barnett, the man who did the news on Channel 6, was talking to a very important man Daddy said was Mr.Hugh Shott, who ran the paper. Right behind them was one of my heroes, “Big Jim” Dalton, who wrote about his Drinkin’ Uncle Jack. Since Mom had helped me learn to read, I loved the paper.

After I got a glass of milk and a dozen chocolate donuts at Kresge’s, everything was wonderful. Mom and Alfred Land looked at rings while Dad and I walked down past Jimmie’s Restaurant across from the Norfolk & Western station, just in time to see the Powhatan Arrow come in. What a sight that big steam engine was and I noticed the number on the side — 607. People were getting off, getting on, the steam was pouring out, and excitement was everywhere. We had to make a trip across the bridge below town to look at a Cavalier cedar chest at Warlick’s Furniture but Mom found one she liked better at Max Kammer’s store. It was a Lane and Daddy liked that too, since it was made in Virginia down at Lynchburg, he said.

It was almost time to go home when we made a quick stop at Acme right above the Feutchenberger bakery. I didn’t look at all the groceries but I did get some Leatherwood egg nog and a carton of Clover Dew Dairy chocolate milk. That was great with the last of the donuts.

Mom said she needed to come back to Steckler’s for something Tuesday and Dad mentioned a pair of shoes on sale at H&M but I was getting sleepy. I dozed off because I wanted to wake up in time for Country Jamboree at 6:30 when Smitty Smith, Gordon Jennings, Boots Collins, Ray Brooks, Don Whitt, Cecil Surratt, and all the Swing Kings would be doing their Christmas show.

After all, we had to get back to Clark’s Toyland before Santa Claus picked up that train.

Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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