Richard Dodson pt2
When we first moved out here, Beacon Hill Airport used to be the favorite play area for young kids. I happened to get a flight with Arthur Godfrey when he used to fly out of there for Good Gulf Gasoline. He worked for radio station WJSV which is no longer in existence, I guess.
The second war, the Navy took it over and used it as a training field. In the early forties they used to have parachute jumps on the Sunday afternoons and that was a big attraction. We used to have airshows here and Betty Shelton, one of the famous women flyers, used to do barnstorming around here. On Sunday afternoon it was either watch the guy jump out of the airplane or watch one of the local ball teams play ball up behind the Sunlight Inn. That was up where the Dixie Pig is today.
As a matter of fact in the Groveton area about the only thing you really had to do was take a good walk. There were many sandlot ball teams around here in the area, quite a few adult hardball teams, which is something that's a thing of the past now. One of the biggest fields used to be up at Dan Reagan's who was the owner of the Sunlight Inn up there behind the Pig. That was another big weekend attraction, ball playing up there.
I guess one of the most forgotten things about this area was the dirt race track that was down at Hybla Valley in the later 40's and early 50's. There was a ¼ mile dirt track down there and it took off real big there for a while and they had some well-known drivers come in and drive. The fire department even had a Demolition Derby down there for fund raising. I think everybody, every youngster that drove a car at one time or another went down there and ran on the dirt track. At that time there was no other racing around other than what the kids used to do in the street.
Uncle Bill Viar was a gentleman who lived at Groveton, everyone called him Uncle. He had the Viarwood Riding Academy. Just about everybody who didn't have their own horse went up there to ride. There used to be quite a few horse shows in the area. As the population increased around here the horses sort of died off due to the restrictions.
When I was growing up, of course the colored went to their own school and we went to ours. We had sandlot football and baseball teams and we used to play the boys that lived over on Quander Road and the ones over at Gum Springs and we never had a problem. When I was a kid, and delivering papers, I used to deliver to Mr. Quander that lived over on Quander Road, and he was a very nice, well-respected gentleman in the neighborhood. I guess Quander Road and Gum Springs are about the two oldest Negro settlements in the area.