Jason Hoffman and Sue Alexander


Jason Hoffman and Sue Alexander are both long-time residents of Franklin St.

J. HOFFMAN: This street (Franklin) ended here at the top of the hill. It was finally opened up to the bottom, to King's Highway. Behind the house was open field and an airport. One of the runways came right over our house. I guess it would be north to south. It was called Beacon Hill Airport.

The Fire Department was here. All the way up and down the side of the street was vacant.

This cement tank was put up and then we had water. Then later sewer came up the middle of the road. We eventually got off septic tanks onto the sewer system which is a good thing. This tank was put up here as an ordinary storage tank. People complained about it, but I didn't. We was making progress in this part of the county. Then much later the Water Authority bought up all these places.

We had our mail system and the mailman came up here on a route like the country routes. The same man came around everyday except when he was sick. It didn't alternate then; it was a six day week.

It was actually a farm where the shopping mall is now. It was in an airport when we came here, but it originally had been a farm.

We had to go to Alexandria to do our main shopping. Across the street from the Penn-Daw Fire Department was Fairview Market. It was run by a various amount of people but the last people I remember was Mr. and Mrs. Faust and daughter. When the motel went in, they tore it down, and moved it across to the shopping center. I think Chauncey's market was up here on the hill, I don't know the exact location of that now.

You raise six kids, garden, and work and you don't have a lot of time to just fool around. I didn't belong to the Fire department but all my boys did at one time or another. When there was a fire there was a clamoration of them going out of the house, going down the stairs. You would hear this bang, bang, bang you know. The last one come out would make a jump and then my wife would say. ''There goes Connie. "
 
S. ALEXANDER:
The old bell would ring and wake everyone in the community up.

HOFFMAN: That siren down there was loud. You knew what was going on, I tell you.

Remember when that plane fell over here in Mrs. Johnson's yard? The engine failed or something.

S. ALEXANDER: My son came after me and said, "Mommy, you better come on home. An airplane done fell in Mrs. Johnson's yard."

HOFFMAN: Yeah. I came home from work and my wife said. "An airplane fell in Mrs. Johnson's yard. I went over to see the thing. It was all beat up and of course they got the people out and took them to the hospital.

Right across out behind the house was a wire to let 'em know where the boundary line of the field was. It'd be nothing to get up next morning or sometimes come in during the night and find a wire knocked down.

I like it as it is but I like the good old days too. The lights shine in from back here and make it much better. You're not so liable to have anybody breaking in. It's light when these lights come on over here behind this Memco.
 
One of the worst fires they had since I moved here was an old chicken house that had been converted into apartments.  Before the Fire Department could get the men and stuff in there the thing must have been a mess. No fire escapes and no other exits to get out. Some woman went to throw her baby out to save it and it hit on the roof and burned up. Everybody just thought it so bad. It burned the Woman. it didn't kill her I don't think. But it burned her real bad. When the Fire Department arrived the thing was in such bad condition….. they did every thing they could. but That wasn't right on this street; that was across the highway. It was some kind of a chicken house that they built first to raise chickens. This man made apartments out of this thing. It was a two story building. Anyway. The people were trapped in it. Everybody thought that was really bad and it was. To see that woman see her baby laying out on the roof, the heat so great and the fire coming up all around it, and they couldn't do nothing about it. (This fire was in 1949 and involved the Adams family. Three babies died. The chicken coop-apartment was on Memorial and Eastside streets.) I don't know anything out of the ordinary, no legends or ghost stories. Do you Sue?

ALEXANDER: Sometimes I'm here by myself I think I hear ghosts  I remember one night when I heard this awful racket and I said, "Oh my, they got me now. Whoever it is, Lord, might as well lay here. I got up the next morning and the ironing board had fell down the steps where I had it propped up!

HOFFMAN: The electric wires come through the trees out there and every time the wind would blow, it would sound like the downspout was about to come off the house. She got me to go up there and I did everything but drive a nail right through the middle of the gutter. Finally the wire pulled out from the house, the man came out, cut a few limbs off that tree, put the wire back up and that eliminated the ghost!

ALEXANDER: There haven't been many children on this street.

HOFFMAN: There was a family from Strasburg where we came from living down here in the Nightingale Trailer Court. Next thing you know a little boy came along. Well, we were neighbors. This boy's mother called my wife and wondered if she would keep him during the day while she went back to work. So she did. In a couple years another one come along so we wound up with two of them. They sold their trailer and moved in with us. Those kids, they didn't know that my wife and I weren't their grandparents.

One day that little boy said to his mother, "Mama, how come we got three grandmas and three granddaddys?" She had to tell him what the story was on it. We practically raised those kids. I think a lot of them and they think of me. Everytime they come by they got to grab hold of me. I see them up here once in a while.

Which Railroad did you work for?

HOFFMAN: Southern. I went from Alexandria to Monroe, Virginia. That was the end of our division. The Danville division went from there to Spencer. We run to Washington quite a bit from here, too. This was a terminal here in Alexandria for the Southern. That was back in the good old days when we had steam engines and had a lot of smoke and cinders and what-not flying in the air and a lot of long good whistles. Today the railroad isn't like it used to be. Of course, railroads, a lot of them, have gone down hill, but the Southern is one of the best financed railroads in these parts.

Volume One, Table of Contents
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