O Shenandoah! A Rustic Refrain

O Shenandoah! A Rustic Refraineagle


Printed within this section in serialized form are unedited, pre-publication excerpts from the book "Virginia Boy: The True Life Story of Cletus Cubbage." Written in longhand over a period of years, the original manuscript comprises twelve notebooks. "Virginia Boy" describes the life and times of a widely-travelled Valley native whose primary interest has been music. Cletus Cubbage has played guitar, solo and in various bands and places, for most of his life and has written over 200 songs. His story is a window into traditional area life and values.

"Virginia Boy"


Chapter I: Part 1


I was born on a small farm in Lucas Hollow, Stanley, Virginia, July 16, 1940. I was told that I was born at night (9 o'clock). I was one of my family that lived. I now have one brother that is still living. I have one brother, older than myself, that died, and two sisters, younger than myself, that also died. Back then we didn't have the doctors and hospitals like we have now, and that was probably the reason they didn't live. However, my brother, Glendon Elwood Cubbage is ten years and 4 months older than me. He is now living here in Luray with my wife and myself. The Lord blessed me with good health. When I was a small child, I would get a cold once in a while and I had the measles, that almost killed me. I'll never forget the measles.

My daddy's name was Perry Cubbage, he was born and growed up in Lucas Hollow, about 10 miles from his home town called Stanley. His daddy's name was James Cubbage, nick named Jim. Jim lived to the age of 96 years, Jim's wife was named Fannie Bell, she passed away in her seventies. My daddy was one of three boys, Author, Herby, and Seldon. All my daddy's brothers lived close to one another after my granddaddy and grandmother passed away, their land was divided among their children. They were what you may call self employed, they growed their own food and made a lot of their own clothes. I always thought my daddy was more out going than his brothers, I mean he was always learning and wanting to learn a lot of different things. To me he had a great talent and taught himself to do a lot of different kinds of work. He knew a lot about farming, the way it was done back then, and he taught me a lot of things that I found out later I would need to know and how to use them through my life. He was a very high strung person and had a good principal and would help anybody that needed help. He wasn't a man of violence, but if someone did make him mad he did have a temper, he was a very strong person. I use to see him carry two sacks of chicken feed at one time, when he would be feeding the chickens. Later that would become one of my jobs, when I got big enough to do it.

Daddy would pick wild grapes, what we used to call Fox grapes, and make home made wine with them. I don't recall how he done it but, I do know the wine was kept in a wooden keg. I've seen my daddy real happy from the wine he would make but, he never was a mean person. When he was drinkin, he was the opposite he loved to play music, laugh and joke. He could always tell a good joke. We use to sit up at night and listen to the whipper wills and some of our neighbors from down the road would come up to our house and listen to daddy tell his jokes.

We always got out of bed early in the morning when I was a little boy. Daddy always said, you would be a healthier person if you got up early. My mom would get up an hour earlier than we did to get the wood stove (our cook stove) going to fix our breakfast. We had home made butter, baked bread, that was baked in a wood stove. Mom would make what we called milk gravy, made from milk from our cows, we would have eggs that we got from our chickens. We could have ham, side meat, or shoulder meat that we got from our hogs. I use to see my daddy take a piece of homemade bread and put home made butter between it, a cup of coffee and that would be all he would have for breakfast.

We lived then in a four room house that later burned down. We heated this little house with wood and living in the mountains we had plenty of wood for our use. Back then there were no chain saws, back then there was what was called a cross cut saw, this had a long blade with teeth on it and a handle on each end. My brother, Glendon Elwood, would help my daddy use this saw to cut the wood that we needed. But, first the wood was cut down in the mountains with an ax. Then in the limbs were cut off the tree and they would take a horse and drag, or pull, it to our house where it would be cut up to burn in the wood stove.

My mother was like every one else's mother. She was a very special person, she was always doin something for all the family. She was born in what is still called Cubbage Hollow. Daddy would walk across the mountain to see her when they were dating. There was no cars or trucks to drive then. There were automobiles back then but, daddy didn't have one. Their first child was my first brother, Glendon Elwood then the second brother was named Davis, he didn't live very long, they never knew what he died from. Then in 1940 I was born. Later mom gave birth to a girl, Bessie Mae, she died an infant. Still another girl came along, Mary, she would die an infant. I wonder what it would be like if they were living today. Mom never talked a lot about them but we knew she missed them very much. Another part of a mother's love.

Mom was a very good cook, she use to tell me and show me, how her mom taught her to cook. I used to love to watch her make light bread. She use to tell me when I was a little boy "Now honey don't shake the table, you'll have my light bread to fall". She use to cook pinto beans and have drop dumplings in them. She had her way of doing it and boy were they good. I watched her can tomatoes, green beans, beets and pickles, all in glass jars. She would can sausage and spare ribs at Christmas time. Mom was always baking and cooking, she made all kinds of pies, black berry, huckle berry, apple, pumpkin and some she called cream pies. Don't ask me how I just watched her do it. Mom would take feed sacks and make pillow cases, our mattress was feed sacks sewed together and stuffed with straw. When mom would have food cookin, she would sit and piece quilts, quilts were the bed covers that we would sleep under. We had no blankets like we do today.

We were a close family and we always loved each other and remembered who made this all possible.


Word Preserve -- O Shenandoah! Country Rag Index

"Virginia Boy" Cletus Cubbage, 1997. All rights reserved.