1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Nostalgic Thoughts: 1950's Picture-Perfect Alderson

Barbara Knight Miner - March 11, 2017

I awakened much too early this March morning, and while listening to the birds as morning came to life with their chirping, I started reflecting on earlier spring days, real and imagined. While drinking my coffee, I started reading an article about a woman who grew up on Nantucket and I decided if I had grown up elsewhere, that might be where I would have chosen to be..... on Nantucket Island, with sand, surf, and seafood, walking little paths of sand to the seashore, listening to seagulls, hearing the lap of waves coming to shore. (Ummm..... Wait, maybe that is my adult dream place??? )

Reflecting on the uniqueness of our little town, I decided I didn't want to be at the Cape on an island as a child because I would miss Alderson, our sleepy little town, divided by the green, often tranquil Greenbrier River running through it. You could never know a summer as lazy and joyful on the Cape with tourists, fishing boats, and all, .....as you could surely experience in Alderson in the 1950's.

I'd prefer to grow up in our quiet little quaint town of Alderson with neatly painted mostly white wooden, or brick with white trim, homes, the sound of slamming screen doors, lush green lawns, and always, the quietly flowing river. I would miss walking across the picturesque old bridge from the Greenbrier (County) side to the Monroe side to get the mail at the post office , walking up the well-worn steps (remember the curved, smoothly worn indentations in the concrete?) to reach in for a few letters from the tiny brass mailboxes. I remember visiting Box 158 almost daily - walking, and then, more heavenly, driving to get the mail in my mother's '57 Chevy. I would miss summer boredom where climbing to the water tower was the most exciting thing some of us could imagine and do.

On the Cape, I would miss Alderson's tall stately trees overhanging the river, the spring bulbs bursting forth amidst thick green grass, hiding and finding Easter eggs in the new clumps of grass. enjoying the scent of blooming jonquils and nodding white capped lily-of-the-valley, eating 3 kinds of cherries (white, sweet and sour) from our granny's trees, sitting in the swing under our grape arbor, walking along rocky unpaved Linden Avenue to Red's store, or on streets beside small and large unfenced gardens where homeowners worked in crisply ironed starched clothing. I remember passing neat front porches with wicker furniture or porch swings, porches with no hint of dust or pollen, listening to birds singing happily, and absorbing the moist clean air, everything green and fresh and inviting. In fact, in the Alderson of my memories, I don't really think dust existed. (Oops, yes it did, it all lived on our black shiny piano just inside our front door. My chore, and later my sister's, was to dust it, and five minutes after we dusted, our grandmother would pass it and tell us to dust the piano again. Regrettably, I know I spent many more minutes dusting it than practicing on it.

On Nantucket, I would miss the Snack-Shak, Rock Bar, and swimming at the prison pool. I would miss visiting the prison which gave me my appreciation for studying corrections as an under-grad. (Yes, once I aspired to become a prison warden like _____'s mom).

Even as a teen, I appreciated that I didn't grow up in Ronceverte or Hinton, with houses on steep hillsides and rail yards beside the river, the air forever smelling of coal dust and soot. I didn't want to grow up in Lewisburg, with "snobby" young men in gray-blue uniforms and prissy girls in Yarids' sweaters walking as if they owned the sidewalks. Alderson was friendly and welcoming. We shared our sidewalks and our lives. I didn't feel the Alderson sense of belonging elsewhere.

Had I grown up in Nantucket, I would have had a New England accent, rather than the "southern mixed with the influence of prison" accent that I have. I would have learned to cook and eat differently - no brown beans and cornbread, green onions, fresh tomatoes, slaw-dogs, or fried chicken and mashed potatoes on Sunday after church, but instead, I may have eaten shrimp and lobster gumbo, raw oysters and learned to catch and steam crabs.

For sure, I would never have known our little town which I remember so fondly, this many years later, knowing that I am still happy to be "an Alderson girl."

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