I used to live down top of Sherwood Lane at first, then after that to Hollin Hall. There were two farms right there together. My father worked there and that's where we lived until the time of the Spanish American War. Then we moved right up here where my brother lives at now. That's where I lived most of the time. But not a person living now was living then, outside of myself, that I know around here.
You had to go in Alexandria to get groceries, to Burrusses right on the corner, the first store in town. Wasn't no stores out here at all. Also there wasn't no post office here. You had to go to Alexandria to get your post mail. In fact, there was nothing but wagon roads. It was bad in winter time and dusty in the summer. If you went, you walked if you didn't have a mule or a horse. It was that time of horse and wagons.
There were no lights, nothing but bushes. Wasn't no house here; this was bushes. I used to live in that house there where those bushes and trees are. Time passed by. We had chickens, eggs, anything we wanted at home to eat. Far as that is concerned, eggs weren't high like they is now. You raised your own. Vegetables weren't high like they are now.
My father bought this piece of ground up there where George (his brother) lives. Now this piece of ground where I'm living was my father-in-law's. I'm married to his daughter, my second wife, Cordelia Johnson. We lived together about forty-three years.
I worked for the Electric light Company. I worked down on the farms. I'd
rather farm than do anything else I've seen done. Then you could get a
job most anywhere and work, but that didn't last long. The War started
going on. The war turns so many people out of the country, there wasn't
We used to go to the dances, but we didn't do any dancing, A lot of them would come half drunk and that would stop all that. It was a pleasure at one time, but sometimes you'll be so tired when it's time to go to work next day. I wasn't doing too much cause I had to work.
I worked for the Electric Light Company, worked for the Telephone Company, and worked for the Street Car Company. All that stuff, that's hard work. I worked when they put the first lights in Arlington and Falls Church. Now look at it. It's a regular city. I got two bad bites of the light while I was going, so I got out of that.
QUESTION: We noticed the sign outside, Randall Estates. Do you still own that land?
I used to own it during Pal Johnson's time. It was left to Pat Johnson from Mrs. Mason. She lived yonder where Penn Daw is, the old building that was just across the road from Penn Daw (Spring Bank). On this side (of Route 1) was a big old house used to be George Mason's headquarters. His wife owned this piece of ground. He (Johnson) was his (Mason's) coach man, you see, carrying him back and forth from the doctor's. Mason said, "I might leave you something when I die." Doc French heard him.
Doc French said, "You try to get that out of him. Now he done said
he was gonna give you something. You see what it is by the time I come
He had it wrote, a note. Quander School wasn't over there yonder, that land Mason was going to give right over to him. But he (Johnson) didn't know no different till after Mason was dead. Mason, after he died, you know, his son took over. "No, we can't give you some down there (Quander Road area)," he told Johnson.
"Mrs. Mason, You give me my ten acres. I ain't comin' back."
"You can come back, I'll give you the acres off my plot," Mrs. Mason said.
That was the only thing that brought him back up here (to Randall Estates). They're so slick. They gave him two five acre lots that would go back to Mason at his death. In twenty years was when he found out. He said to me, "Come here. I got something to tell you. You better see about it."
I said, "Taxes are paid?" "Yes, taxes are paid, but don't you know some of these men can come back and take that land from you and you'll be sittin' right out in the street?" He told me what to do. "You lake and deed It to somebody for twelve months and have them deed it back to you. After twelve months, you can go and get a lawyer to investigate and they won't be bothering you. Deed it to your brother, George, if you want to."
So that's what I done. At that time George was a young boy who was gettin' his trade, but he run and work and got all straight in that twelve months.
In twelve months I'm going to Fairfax to get this straightened out with a Fairfax man. Why, nothing in Fairfax but lawyers. I was up there for a half hour for me to have this hearing. A lawyer gave him my deed, clean cut deed to that place. He read and signed it. He said, "Nobody can bother you." So that settled that. I never had any more trouble. Now I've been living here ever since.
QUESTION: Do you remember the depression?
Depression, oh yeah, I know a lot about that. Depression is as bad as it is now. The things weren't as high as they got them now. You could raise your hogs and things, have chickens. See we can't raise no chickens here, not like that. All that's gone. The biggest change in this area? To me building all these houses here. That's the biggest change I've seen.
So that's it, I don't know what else to tell you. All those different things always against black people, just workin' hard against them.