By Mark Robinson
Elmer and Mabel Hedrick live just below Williamsburg. Mabel has lived in that part of the county for 92 years, Elmer for 91 years. Married in 1946, they had seven sons: David, Rodger, Steven, Barry, Bill, Gary and Rick. All seven sons live in Greenbrier County, and they get together often for birthdays and other events.
Elmer lived near Cornstalk as a boy. In elementary school, he had to walk about two miles to Cold Spring School. Mabel, who lived near Trout Valley, had to walk about a mile. They met when they were in the seventh grade, when both of them began to attend Piedmont School. The old school building is gone now.
When they married in 1946, they bought the little house they live in now. It came with 162 acres. The seven sons began to arrive.
Elmer sat down earlier this month to talk about the old days.
“I farmed all I could, every way we could,” he said, “And worked out too, as much as I could I was in the milk business for 30 years. I worked building roads, whatever I could find to make some money, usually in the summer. The kids would take care of the work at home while I was away.
“ I worked 12 years on the state road, up here at Crawley, just over the hill from Clintonville. Driving a bus started in 1959. Retired in 1988. Drove it 28 years, and missed one day of work. Drove a bus for $75 a month, and you only got one paycheck a month.
“It’s been 20 years since we grew corn. Now, we just stick with hay, and we raise beef. We are weaning calves now. I guess we have 75-80 calves.
“I knew everybody, back so many years ago. Now I know nobody. A lot of old folks like us are passing on. In the old days, we had five country stores and four filling stations right here in the Williamsburg area.
“People used to work on their own place more. Could work on their own place all day. Now, they’re always driving.
“What knocked out the farms was when they started busing the kids out to school. The kids, they helped you with work, and cattle, and all kinds of work. That really hurt the farmers, not having the workers on the farm.
“There were hard times, all the time, getting money. There just wasn’t any available back then. I can remember the depression, coal miners would stop at every house, and take anything they could get. Looking for potatoes, anything they could eat.
“The reason I didn’t get drafted in World War II, my dad’s brother got killed in World War I. Dad got me a deferment. I worked on a farm for two years, for an older couple, then when they passed away, we bought it. This is it, we’re living on it now.”
Referring to Mabel, Elmer says, “The greatest joy was getting my boss over there. It was a struggle a lot of times. I remember we didn’t have a couch. Her mother gave us an old glider. We made a couch out of that. Made do with what we could.”