Mrs Starry, a resident of the area for thirteen years, tell stories about the community while she was growing up.
She (my mother) didn't grow up on Telegraph Road, she grew up in Remington and moved here when she was a child. She and my dad got married and moved out on Telegraph Road. The house they moved into was built the last year of the Civil War, and there wasn't any water. In other words, just a house. They had to carry water from a community well. It was about a block and a half from the house and imagine bringing wash water, bath water, water to cook with, and water to drink in buckets! That's what most of the people right on Telegraph Road had to do.
Now everyone that lived in this house before them said the house was haunted. They said you could hear chains being dragged up and down the stairwell at night, but they must have been good people because they never hurt anything. They never hurt the ghost or saw it, but they did live there.
It was on Fort Lyon which was a fort used during the Civil War. While he (my father) was there, he worked as a caretaker of an estate that was built right in the fort but it burned some years later. The house is not there now, but Fort Lyon Heights is built on the property.
Also, up on Fort Lyon where the Civil War battles had been fought, we'd find many of the little minie balls that they'd used to shoot out of the guns. You could find them all over the place when I was a child.
The house that my mother lived in was moved to the site it's on. now from two blocks up. They took it on a big truck and moved it to another site. They never even broke a dish. They didn't! The house was moved there in 1956 but it was built fifty two years ago.
My sister lives in it today. It's been remodeled and it's modern. It has all the good features you'd want in a house now. When my mom and dad moved in, it was just a shell of a house. You cooked on a cook stove and you heated with a stove in the living room putting wood in it. There wasn't any electricity, no telephone, none of the conveniences we have today. My mother washed clothes on a wash board. Imagine doing that for three or four children! Instead of using bleach, they'd put the clothes out in a big pot and boil the white clothes to get them white. I'm glad I didn't live back in that day to wash clothes.
We did have one bad tragedy that happened when I was a girl. My aunt and two little children were battered and beaten. My aunt lived but the two children died, and they did electrocute the man who killed them. He just went in there and why he did it nobody seems to know unless it was for robbery.
A little five and seven year old girl were beaten to death and he left the woman for dead. She had twenty seven gashes in her head. He thought she was dead but she did live to identify him. Just the mother was there with the two little girls and a four week old baby. He didn't touch the baby. One died one day and one died a week later.
One of the neighbors was walking down Telegraph Road. She came to the door and called him and got help that way. It was a tragedy really.
I was only eight years old at the time when it happened. We didn't know of course what had happened. We just knew there'd been something that had happen at the Ridgeways. We all went down there and I went in too. I had played with both the little girls because one was seven and one five. I saw part of her brains laying on the kitchen floor. She never did regain consciousness.
He hit her in the head with a hatchet and beat the other little girl to death with a little child's chair. He had worked with her husband. Just robbery was the motive probab1y. That's the only bad thing that I know ever really happened while I lived there.
Down near the railroad on Telegraph Road there was a hobo camp. There was lots of hobos out at that time. There was not much money and a lot of people were out of work. They would come to my father's store and beg for food. One day, one of the hobos came in and he said, ''Mr. Ridgeway, you must be a nice person because I heard about you in the Mid-West and was told that when I came here to be sure to come to you for my food." That's true, he really did! He fed two or three a day. They didn't work so they wanted a handout.
There were a lot of gypsies around. They were down all over the area anywhere you'd go. They'd come in caravans, big carloads of than. They would come around and knock on your door and try to tell your fortunes. I was scared to death of them. I wouldn't get near one of than. I'm sure there must have been nice ones, too. One of my mother's good friends was a gypsy woman that married an American man. That was Mrs. Pullman. That was her nationality. She was from Rumania, somewhere over in that area. She married an American and lived like everybody else.
I didn't do very much when I was a teenager. I went to lots of square dances. We had a lot of square dances then and now it's a real going thing. Everywhere you went when I was a girl was square dancing and I guess that would be really square today. I was right young when I started dating, I wasn't but fourteen. I was seventeen when I got married so I didn't have a lot of childhood.
In the days when I was a kid there wasn't any television, there wasn't any radios, and we didn't have electricity. All the families would gather together on Sundays for dinner at each others houses. Of course conversation would lag after awhile so somebody would get off telling ghost stories. I guess one tried to top the other 'cause there were some awful tall tales told. I know the kids were scared to death to go to bed at night because of the ghosts. They were frightened.
My mother and daddy had seven children, 18 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren. and two great great grandchildren. He worked for the Ledbetter Apothecary Shop in Alexandria. That has been turned into a tourist attraction now. He was a driver/salesman for ‘em. When they went out of business, he started his own gasoline station. The station has been on that site for approximately 50 years. They don't operate it anymore, my mother still owns it but Shell Oil Company leases it from 'em.
The pumps were entirely different than they are today. Today you just put the gasoline hose in your car, they turn it on, and you get gas. Before, you had this hand pump on the side and you had to pump up gas into the big bowl up on top of the tank. You'd pump out 10 gallons, you'd pump up 10 more, you'd wait on the cars, and if they wanted more than 10 you had to pump it up twice. Most people didn't buy gas by the gallon then. They'd come in and get a dollar's worth or two dollar's worth. They'd tell you how much they wanted instead of saying, "give me 10 gallons."
One change I saw was the big shopping center go in where the airport is, and I for one liked the airport better there. It was pretty, more like country then. I do remember when Arthur Godfrey would fly there. I'm sure everybody knows him. He had his plane at Hybla Valley which is just below Groveton. My husband learned to solo at the Beacon Airport which is where the Giant Food Store stands now. One of our friends was killed there. He went into a dive and he never came out of it. He was killed right there on the field. It was country when I moved there, just a house now and then, but now it's so thickly populated. I lived there for thirteen years.