Cline Hamilton Proffit
Cline Hamilton Proffit was born February 7, 1904. He first came to the Groveton area from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in March of 1931. He lived in what was later Richmond Avenue and eventually moved to Popkins Lane.
Question: When did you first move to the Groveton
I believe it was in March of 1931.
Question: Whereabouts did you live then?
What was later Richmond Avenue, right opposite of Number 1 Highway from the old two-room Groveton School.
Question: And then you lived on Popkins Lane for a
I moved there... '43.
Question: What was your occupation?
Shovel operator, machine operator, or whatever you want to call it. The roads I cleared was down in White Oaks.
Popkins Lane only went as far as Earl Popkin’s house. There was three dairy farms over there. Ayers was the first one, then Ludwig Popkins, then Earl Popkins. There was one other house on the road a Mr. Costello. That was the total of the area on Popkins Lane -· three farms, one house.
They farmed with horses, all of them. Mr. Ayers had about five. Lud Popkins usually kept four, and Earl four or five, all work horses. One tractor on the road was a W-30 International that Earl Popkins had. He used to thrash wheat with it~ cut wheat and thrash wheat. He used it to cut his ensilage. All the ensilage was cut by hand, loaded on wagons, hauled up next to the silo; then they'd run it through the cutting box and blow it up the silo.
Everybody had a little garden. Down towards Belvoir the Talbots used to grow and sell vegetables and flowers, an awful lot of flowers. They had more flowers than all the rest of the people put together.
Popkins Farm covered between three and four hundred acres. All the way from the creek on one side, clear to Kirk Wilkinson’s on the other.
Lud Popkins had the most unique job in the United States, they say. He was tie breaker for the county board. The board voted three and three; then Mr. Lud was supposed to go in and cast the deciding vote. My God almighty, son, worst job in the world!
Right at the comer of Number I Highway and Popkins Lane was the catholic church. I’ve been by there on a Sunday morning and seen the congregation come out when there was three people and the priest come out of the church!
Penn Daw Hotel was there and later on the Evelyn Inn was built there about the time I moved to Groveton. Margaret Peck, better known as Maggie Peck, built the Evelyn Inn, a tourist place. Pierce Reid had the place on top of the hill, Beacon Airport. Mr. Arthur Kirby lived up on the hill across from Popkins Lane, Memorial Heights they called it. That was a dairy farm before 1 came out there. The first house I owned was in that Memorial Heights sub-division.
Way later a bunch of gypsies came out there and parked on Pierce Reid's place, where Beacon Airport was. Must have been fifty or more of them. He rented them the privilege of putting their trailers and things out there.
Along about '32 they built the first brick schoolhouse at Groveton. Only school in the area. There was one little school over on Fort Hunt Road at Snowden, a little one-room schoolhouse. There was another one out toward Franconia. There was one in Engleside next to Talbot's place. That was all the schools in the whole area.
A streetcar line came out of Washington through Alexandria and down to Mount Vernon. They had what they called the milk train. They used to haul the milk from there on Popkins Lane, over to the streetcar track and load their milk on the streetcars to carry it into Washington to the dairies. During the war the Thompson's dairy in Washington got out one of their old horse wagons and rented three big horses from Earl Popkins and was delivering milk around Washington with horses again. That was during World War II.
General Patton kept his private riding horse over home for a month. They wanted to board her over there. Earl Popkins used to keep a bunch of horses up at his farm. Then during World War II. everybody and his brother rode a horse. Bill Viar, at one time owned ninety-two head, opened Viarwood Riding School. He owned ninety-two head of horses, mules, ponies, donkeys. You name it; Bill Viar had it.
Question: What was Route 1 like then?
A two lane highway and sometime in the thirties I dug out for the third lane all the way from Alexandria to Triangle, Dumfries.
Question: Why did you move out of the Groveton
Just to get the old country boy back out of town I reckon. I lived in Alexandria and I didn't like it in town. But then Groveton got populated later on.
Question: Do you know anything about the plane crash on
Yeah, great foggy night a plane came right down between Brian Popkin's house. He had his landing gear down. You could see where it cut through their old lilac hedge. I hadn't been asleep but a few minutes. A terrible explosion, lights went out. I got the telephone and called the operator and told her we'd had a plane crash out there. She said they'd had a dozen calls on that. I said, "Not this one 'cause it hadn't happened 'bout three minutes."
They'd had one out there around Franconia someplace the same night! I ran out and the whole country there was a fire, looked like. Plane was laying right in the edge of White Oaks there, bottom side up, and people were coming out. It was pasture there, and a gate, and this hostess had the people all up there at the gate. I heard that the pilot, or co-pilot one, lost an eye. That was the worst hurt of any of the passengers. Part of that plane lay there for...I reckon six months.