I first came here in 1939 and started in '40 to build my house on what is known today as Memorial Street. It was East Oak in those days and it was a gravel street. All streets was gravel except Number 1 highway and Beacon Hill Road past the Dixie Pig. At that time when you come down Number 1 highway when you got over three blocks off of Route 1 that was the end of town.
During the Civil War when the soldiers came home, they brought to the area the sport of baseball. Before that time when people got together for entertainment, the men would go in the woods and they would fight. They would wrestle and box. They would have a big picnic where everybody got all they could eat and drink. Then the men would go down in the woods and fight, and the women would set around and talk quilting.
The first real sport to draw attention to this area was what is known as jousting, tournament riding. That's like the knight's rode with the lance and picked the rings up. Mrs. Popkins, her husband and her brother-in-law were big tournament riders. They rode under the name of the Knights of Clifton. That was the name of the farm. A man named Burt Ayres rode as the Knight of Groveton. In the process of riding tournament the man that wins gets a wreath to crown his Queen with, that's the prize he gets. Then they have a big dance and a big ball. He Crowns his lady fair.
The next sport that came along to take any size crowd, was baseball. Every com. munity and town in the United States always had what was known as a sandlot baseball team. When I moved to Groveton in '39, up where the Dixie Pig is now, there was a baseball diamond. They would play there on Sunday afternoon, and we'd go in the Dixie Pig and set. They came around and stick their hats in the window to get the collection to help pay for the balls. They would challenge other communities. They paid some of the guys, but most was just amateur. A lot of them would be broken down professional ball players who couldn't make it in the big league.
Then the baseball went out when the war came on, and everybody went horse happy in this country. Everybody that had a yard big enough to put a horse in, they bought a horse. We used to put on horse shows. Our first show was on the 7th day of November in 1943, a Sunday.
The largest crowd that was ever in Groveton was a motorcycle race. Mr. Reid gave them permission to build a race track. They came there and worked about a week with a grader and make an 8th of a mile track. They advertised to have a motorcycle race. The people came on a Saturday. It rained so hard that they couldn't have the race because the track was a dirt track. We estimated that there was 5,000 people. The cars was around that track and they was just like a parking lot. They even went across the street. They just closed everything up in Groveton. They came from New Jersey, even as far as Florida, to come to that race. Afterwards business people along Route 1 went to the Board of Supervisors and outlawed the motorcycle races.
We used to ride down here in the woods on Sundays. People down here played what they called gambling dominos. You know, the crap game. And then they did have cock fights, but they didn't draw very big crowds because the law would get them. That's since I've lived here. Back in the days before the civil war that was a great sport in this area. Up until the Humane Society outlawed it.