Ray Gallagher


They laid the concrete road (Route One) in 1918. In war time, you see, they couldn't take the stuff down to Belvoir because it would get stuck in the mud, so they had to rush a concrete road, and they did it so fast that the road ended up being a snake. That's where Snake Hill got it's name.

There was actually a lot of small farming through here, what they call truck farming, growing vegetables, taking 'em to the market, things like that. This man, Hardbower had two or three very long greenhouses. Where the old Groveton was, was Ayres farm. We used to go up and milk the cows. They'd pasturize it (the milk) there and then they'd deliver it door to door in Alexandria. They had a regular route, like a paper route.

One of the Cole boys, Chappie, was a daredevil. I grew up with him from the time I was about seven years old until I was about eighteen. He learned to fly at Beacon airfield. Both he and his brother learned to fly when they were about 16. Anyway, he took his mother up for an airplane ride in a small Piper-Cub type plane, and then he went up by himself. As I say, he was a daredevil, and he let the plane dive, couldn't pull it out, and he got killed. Eighteen years old. He was killed in 1931. He was the first playmate I ever had to die. But his brother went on to fly for Eastern, and is probably the second or third oldest pilot Eastern has today. Parker Cole. He lives down in southern Miami. When his house, on the NE corner of U.S. 1 and Popkins Lane, got torn down I sent him a card telling him they had torn down the house his father built in 1926.

His father dug a well, and we kids used to pull buckets of dirt, dump 'em, and bring 'em back. After they got the well in, they poured a concrete base layer and built the house on top of that. It was a house you could buy from Sears and Roebuck already fitted. All you had to do was put it together. The bungalow, they called 'em, an ugly looking house but modern at the time. For many years it was the rectory for St. Louis Church.

The first real restaurant, high-c1ass anyway, was Penn Daw Hotel. But prior to that the biggest restaurant was a place called "Mother Bartletts." This was a white restaurant right in the middle of Gum Springs where Fordson Road meets Sherwood Hall Lane. That was the most dangerous curve on the whole road (Route 1) from Belvoir to Alexandria.

I remember the first time that I went sixty mph was in a 1922 Dodge. In those days tires would blow. They had only a guarantee for 8000 miles. This fellow, Capt. Richards, his wife divorced him because he was a reckless driver. This old Dodge was glass enclosed, and it wasn't safety glass then. If you ever had a wreck in that, it'd cut you to pieces. He went 60 mph in that car and that's as far as the speedometer went in those days. He might've gone faster. It was in that strip in front of the old Mt. Vernon High School. That was the big drag strip in those days. It was the straightest route from the top of Gum Springs down to Engleside. Course they weren't many cops around. There was only one policeman. His car couldn't go any faster!

Youth didn't cause any trouble in the old days. They weren't on anything. They just never bothered anybody. There weren't any hot-rodders. Bikes were the fastest things around.

It was rare for anybody from this area to go to college. People weren't so gung-ho about college. U. Va. used to be a big place to go if you had money. Kids went down there and they played sports and took music appreciation. It was strictly an aristocratic thing. Only two or three kids from around here were enrolled down there regularly. But people went to G.W. at night. I went to law school at Washington at night. I got a law degree for only $20 a month going to school for four years at night.

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

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