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"


If you missed earlier sections, they're archived in "Word Preserve" as
Chapter I, Part 3, Chapter I, Part 2, and Chapter I, Part 1.

Chapter I: Part 4


By now I was in the 6th grade of my schooling. I left the little school in "Nauman" with 2 grades in each room and was sent to a school at Grove Hill. To me this school looked as big as a city, compared to the one I left from. Here we had more rooms, more teachers and lots more people at this school. We had inside bath rooms with running water and commodes to use instead of having to go outside and use a small building, with a moon in the door. I was completely turned around by all this. We could even buy a hot meal for 15 cents and there was ice cream sandwiches and ice cream on a stick. Some of the kids took notice of me not being use to something like this, however, I got along with the most of them. Except for about 5 boys who didn't like my ways. I tried to get along with them but they always picked on me whenever the teacher wasn't around. It got so bad, if they saw me go to the bathroom I would have to fight my way out. I always lost. This would distract me trying to do my lessons. The teacher was even on their side. One of the boys that picked on me was her pet and everyone in class knew this. He was afraid of me, by himself, so he would buy the other boys candy or ice-cream to pick at me and fight me. My life at this school was miserable. I remember one time I didn't have my homework and the teacher told one of the boys that picked at me to go outside and bring back a switch. She called me up to her desk and told me to pull up my pants legs. I was scared so I pulled them up, I'll never forget how hard she whipped me. She told me to go back to my desk and sit down. My legs were hurting so bad I would pick them up and down to help ease the pain. She told me if she saw me pick them up one more time she was gonna whip me twice that hard. I'll never forget that teacher. A few year back I heard she died. She was still young. God rest her soul.


One beautiful morning, we were all waiting for the bus to take us to Grove Hill School and the man had some turkeys running out in his field. Some of the turkeys got through the fence. A couple boys and myself were putting the turkeys back over the fence , when, someone throwed a rock and broke one of the turkey's legs. I was turned in for throwing the rock. God knows I was innocent, the woman principal at Grove Hill took me in a room and asked me about it. I told her, I didn't do it, I didn't even know who did it. She didn't believe me, she told me to bring in my writing paper and pencil that day after I had ate my lunch. After lunch when I went to a room where she was, she said, she was going to punish me for not telling her who had broke the turkey's leg. She said, I had to write a sentence every day after I had ate my lunch. The sentence was "Do I love Grove Hill School?" I did this for a week everyday after my lunch. She never did say any more to me, so one day I asked her how long would I have to write this sentence. I was using a lot of my paper that didn't come easy and I didn't feel that this was fair, having me to stay inside every day, when I'd like to be out like the rest of the people. She told me there was no amount of sentences to be written. When she felt like I'd been punished enough she would let me know. I was afraid to tell my parents anything about this, I thought they wouldn't believe me and I would have to stand up and eat for a long time.

I remember one day while all the others were out playing I was doing my usual writing, two boys came in from outside and started going up and down the desk isles picking up pocket books and shaking them. They picked up one pocketbook and it had some change in it. They took it and left the room. Next day, my teacher told me the principal wanted to see me that morning. I went over to her room and asked her what did she want. She said, one of the girls had her change taken out of her pocketbook, while she was outside at lunch time. She asked me if I had taken it, I told her no I hadn't took it. She said, since I was the only one in the room at that time, she was going to punish me for taking it if I didn't tell her who did take it. I told her who took it and she believed me. All that she did to the boys that took the money was make them give it back. I mean that was it. Now, I had two more boys mad at me as if I didn't have enough troubles. So after a month or more went by she had a change of heart. She said, she thought I had been punished enough. You wanna know something, I still don't eat turkey and I sure don't love or like Grove Hill School. Blame me? However, after all the hassle I had still made good grades that year.

I can still recall the clothes that I had to wear in the fall when school would start, daddy would get me a brand new pair of star brand shoes. My shirts were cotton and my blue jeans had patches. Now, I found out at Grove Hill school if you wore pants with patches on them you were considered either poor or a hillbilly. I sometimes think about this now, when I see some one wearing blue jeans with patches sewed on them. I also wondered then, why did some of the kids act like they were making fun of me because of this? My daddy had a pair of clippers that he cut my hair with, there were times that they made fun of this too. One thing the teacher did that really embarrassed me , was tell me several different times that she smelled my socks. She even threatened to make me go to the bathroom and take off my shoes and wash my socks and stay in the bathroom until my socks had dried.


When I passed for the seventh grade, I was sent to Shenandoah School, and so were the bullies, yes they went right along with me. They weren't quite as bad now I had a couple friends that didn't try to make fun of me that I hung around with. But, if they would catch me by myself they would tell me to get back to Stanley. They'd say this ain't your school, why don't you go back where you came from. I finished my seventh grade at Shenandoah and started in the eight. This time I had an older lady for a teacher, her name is not important. I could see that I was gonna have trouble with her right away. One boy in my room was having trouble at home. His mom and dad were drinking and were gonna get a divorce. This upset the boy and he couldn't get his mind on his lessons. He liked me, we were good friends but, if she punished him for something, she punished me too. She didn't know about his troubles at home. I remember one day he was all tensed up and he bent over and took his books out of his desk and just started throwing them. Then, he got up and ran out of the room. I sat about three desks behind him and the teacher ran back to me and grabbed me in the shirt and jerked me up out of my desk and told me it was my fault that he ran out of the room. These little things went on for awhile, course my friend came back to school after a few days. He was a good learner, lots of things in my lessons he would help me with. I heard awhile back, when I was playing music that he lost his life in a car accident.

When I was half way through the eighth grade my teacher came to me one evening, and said Cletus I want you to get a hair cut and a new notebook. I wondered what made her say that to me, I was making good grades and always kept my hair combed neat. All the students that came from down my way, were told that we were getting transferred to Stanley High School. So, come Monday I would be going to my fourth school.


Word Preserve -- O Shenandoah! Country Rag Index

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