Elsie Phipps and Grace Huffman


E. PHIPPS: We came here December, '49. We've been here ever since. Mother came here the same time. There's a lot of changes up and down the road. When we came here there was one bank. Now we have them at every corner practically. You couldn't just dart out and get a hamburger like you can today. We had to go to Alexandria to the grocery store.

There was a dirt race track over behind Hybla Valley where the Hybla Valley houses are now. I used to take my nephew over there and teach him to drive on the race track - I figured that was the safest place.

G. HUFFMAN: There was an airport up on top of the hill about where Memco is now. They used to go up and have the shooting matches in the field. My husband and son would go up there every Saturday night and win turkeys and hams. Now you can't shoot a gun in Fairfax county, but they banged away up there.

The Penn-Daw motel was the nicest motel around here. We had one other little one across the road here. All this was just woods, swamps, nothing was built here. In fact, we could have bought that land for a song almost. I begged my husband to do it. And today we could have been well off. But, "No," he said, "Who'd want that swamp land? Nobody'd ever want it." Now look. Everything's built on it.

E. PHIPPS: Over where those two service stations are, didn't they call it the green leaf motel or something? It was where the drunks would lay out in the woods.

The greatest excitement was every Saturday night us going down to see the great wrecks down here on the road (Route 1). As many as 3 before we'd go to bed some saturday nights.

It was four lanes then, of course. All the traffic went up and down this highway. They really had some large wrecks down there because of all the trucks on the highway.

We came here in '49 and there was only 30 some trailers here then. Now there are approximately 350, I guess several people owned it at different times. Each of them added a little bit to it. It was just woods and honeysuckles.

G. HUFFMAN: One time we had a lot of nice people in here. We had all classes of people. We had service men, rated service men and we had all types of government workers. We had nurses and some young doctors, ministers that were going to school and would come to stay for a year. It was very nice, but it isn't anymore.

E. PHIPPS: Fairfax County definitely frowns on mobile homes. I don't know why because they get plenty taxes out of us. Mr. Beard that used to own the trailer park here, has a gravel pit out in the Franconia area. That is quite a bit of land and it would make an ideal trailer park. He begged them for it for a number of years up until he died. Now his son is working on it, to put in a nice modern trailer park out there, and they never would pass it. They're Just against trailers.

G. HUFFMAN: I believe the real estate people are behind it as much as anything. They want to force you to either go into these apartments or these cheap houses they throw up. I'd just soon be in jail than be penned up in them apartments. As old as I am, I like to run out, have some grass and flowers and get a breath of fresh air. I don't like to be penned up behind a door all the time. Everywhere you travel you see nice trailer courts. I think it's a shame we're this near the Nation's capital and can't have a decent looking trailer park, and people can't live in them with respect.

E. PHIPPS: It never was a pretty park. But some of the owners that used to own it, they would have contests each spring as to who had made the greatest improvement in their lot and who had the prettiest lot and such as that. Even though there were cash awards for them and even though you knew you didn't stand a chance of winning an award you would still get ashamed at yourself when you would see your neighbor cleaning up and you would clean up.

But now they don't encourage cleaning up. They have recently formed a civic association. I attempted to form one years ago when Mr. Beard had the trailer park and he was working with me on it. But this time, from what I can hear the office is working against the civic association. I have been told by some of the tenants that anyone putting their name on a piece of paper to join it would receive moving orders. There was a rumor that the park was in the process of being sold and the civic association was trying to throw a block in the way of keeping it from being sold. Now I don't know if this is true or not, but I haven't been active. I did attend one or two of the meetings.

I hesitate to make any improvements that take too much time and money because there's always a rumor. You just hesitate to put much effort into it, an I think that's the way with a lot of people. It definitely is not too far off before they do close the park. Just Sunday I heard, more 'or less from the horses mouth, that there was nothing working right now, but it will be before long I'm sure. I feel like it's such an eyesore that now the county will go along with the rezoning. Well, I think we have enough shopping centers.

My father managed the park for 12 years. My husband worked in the park as assistant manager for 11-1/2 years and then I have worked in the park a great part of the time since I've been here.

G. HUFFMAN: There was secret service, FBI and police and you name It knocking at our door at all hours of the night.

So many of the people instead of taking their problems to the main office, you know, they'd come to our place because we had to have a sign out there saying "Manager." The people would come to us in the evenings after dinner, you know, domestic affairs between man and wife. They always expected me to keep medicine for everyone in here. I have a large medicine cabinet clear across the bathroom wall. The would come "Oh, go to Mrs. Huffman, go to Mom Huffman. She's got the medicine. You can get it there, whatever you want." And they come to me for it and I'd have to keep a supply because I knew they were coming.

E. PHIPPS: When we first moved in here the mobile homes were pretty and every bit of the space was utilized much better than it is now. The newer mobile homes are pretty but they don't have quality and they don't utilize the space. But of course, at that time they didn't have bathrooms in them. You had to take your chamber bucket and go up to this house. In the basement was the laundry room and the men's and the ladies' showers and the toilets. In the mornings the women would all meet up there with their chamber bucket and have their gab session. In the evenings that was recreation. You would take your towel and your wash cloth and sling it across your shoulder. If you got your husband back in two hours you were lucky because he would meet up with all the rest of the guys and they would stand up there and shoot the breeze. The little tykes that were too small to go under the shower, why the mothers would take turns putting them in the laundry tubs, giving them a bath.

I'm sure the men could hear the women but what the men didn't know, I think, was that the women could hear them as plain as they could. We would go in the showers and listen to the men over in the men's showers and they would be talking about things ,that sometimes, well, we really got a bang out of. They were the good old days; it was like a family. It was only 35 trailers in here and it was like a family. We really did enjoy it living like that. Now you don't know what's going on with your next door neighbor but then it was like a family. Everybody was concerned about everybody else.

G. HUFFMAN: The mail would come at a certain time of day and, the women would gang up and sit around on the rock wall waiting for the mail to come in. One day a terrible tragedy happened. A mother was sitting there waiting for the mail and the oil truck came in and filled up oil for the supply for the laundry room. When the oil truck pulled away, why this one little girl (4 years old wasn't she?) she ran after the truck and those big chains you see hanging down from the wheel sometimes, she ran after the truck and caught a hold of one of the chains and it pulled her right under and just smashed her flat as a pancake. That was terrible. I'll never forget that. Her mother was sitting right there waiting for the mail. My husband had kinda shooed her and her little 2 year old brother away from the truck. He told him "Now son, you get away from that truck and go on to your mother cause the truck's going to pull out." He thought she went on around to her mother. Instead she followed the truck, grabbed on to the chain, pulled it, and killed her instantly.

Volume One, Table of Contents
Snake Hill to Spring Bank Homepage

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