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Lifestyles of the Past and Present in Bethesda
Genealogy & Local History eBook

Lifestyles Cover

Prepared by Hugh Keedy and Jessie Bennett
Co-directors: Bethesda Museum

Billy Alexander
Jessie Bennett
Franklin Bond
Leo Bond
Lola Bowersox
Cleo Grigsby
Agnes Hargrove
Hugh Keedy
Annie Lou McCord
Bessie Mosley
Lester Mosley
Jean Sanders
Joyce Smith
Ruth Taylor
James Trice
Jerry Watkins
Bill Wiley

Interview With Ruth Taylor

{What was maiden name? Parents names? What did they do? Why move to Nashville? What doing there?}


I was born in Bethesda but we moved away. I didn't know until here lately that I was born over here where May ______(??) lived. We lived down on Wilson Pike [in Nashville] and my momma started me out at .....There used to be a train station right at the ...we lived over on...there was one road that went to Nolensville and one Wilson Pike. There was a little station, because they used to have trains that stopped at every...they called them eight o'clock trains.

I'll never forget as long as I live but this girl that lived not too far from me...we were going to Trinity school then. I guess we were about the fourth grade. One morning I caught the train. You could ride from one ... too many miles from one..and they would let you off. Used to ride for a nickel. This girl and myself got on the train. We rode to school and we caught it coming back, for a dime. I said, "Can you _______get off? You can't even get off a train." But that was the most part that...it wasn't like the Pan American or nothing like that. The train was a locomotive and it just the caboose on the back of it, and it was really interesting.


I first started to school at Pleasant Hill, out close to Nolensville. I think the teacher kinda' wanted enough children to fill in where she would have to enough for a school. My mother decided she would send me to Mrs. Ezell. She came from Franklin and she would carry me to school. Well, the first day or two I enjoyed it. One day she got up and she showed my writing to all the class. Well, I thought she was making fun of me. So I came back home, but when she come back to get me I cried. I'd get up under the bed, and she'd take a switch and get me out from under the bed to go to school. But finally my momma let me stay at home. I wasn't but a little over five years old. And I thought, "oh, my goodness." I just didn't like that teacher at all. I thought she just did something terrible to me. But she really wasn't making fun. She just wanted to show the class my work.

I went to Trinity until I started at Bethesda. That was where you had just three teachers. Of course, Trinity went through high school at one time. The teacher that I was under had four classes, which you don't have nothing like that now. She had all the classes from the first to the fourth.

I started to school in Bethesda when I was in grade three {grade four at Trinity above???}, after Christmas. That was 1939, I guess. By that time my parents lived over at Peytonsville. {facts do not agree here-----} When I was a junior we moved from Bethesda over to Peytonsville. {Should it be from Peytonsville to Bethesda?} That's where we lived until my father died. He's been dead for several years now and my mother is still living and she lives at Franklin. But, I had to ride a school bus. That is the first time that I had ever ridden on a school bus, because I walked to school. Now the children think you are crazy if you have to walk to school, but we walked to school from over there where Made (???) and John lived. And then, when we moved to Peytonsville I had to ride the bus.

High school in Bethesda

My granddaddy's people lived in Bethesda and he wanted to come back, since he was getting old and feeble. We came back and that's how I got started to Bethesda school. But I really did hate to come back to Bethesda because I didn't know nobody and it was a high school and, oh, I was just killed. But then, after I got started, the first thing they wanted to know was if I could play ball, or do this, or that. I really did like it. And I've been here every since. I graduated in 1943. We had 12 to start with in my graduating class. Jim Eggerston was a senior and he went to service. That was during World War II. So, we had eleven to finish. The one school had burned and then they built it back and I started to it. But, Lawd 'a mercy, I can't even find my place up here now, it has changed so much.

The old gym at Bethesda was made by people in the community. We had tin put on the outside. We had to go outside of the school to go to the gym. And it had a big old box seats--that's where the dressing rooms were, back up under there--but I don't know of anybody that sat in them.

[Jessie: There by that door was where Mr. Adams taught me how to drive. He laid down matches, and showed me the gears. He put those matches down and showed me how to change gears. First. Second. High. And I drove his car--never had been in a car and drove it--to Thompson Station and got a class ring. How daring I was. I said I thought I could drive so he let me drive around the school up there and said he believed I was ready. I didn't have a driver's license. That was my teacher that let me drive. When Billy Ray Johnson and W.L. ________??? got burned up--we were juniors then--I carried them all to the funeral in his car. I didn't even learn how to drive, really. I got my driver's license when Brenda was ten months old. All the time Charles was in the service I kept his car and drove and carried everybody around in the community to the doctor . And didn't have a license. I don't know when the law about licenses went into effect, but I know I didn't have one.]

I didn't learn to drive until later; I couldn't even drive when I finished high school. We didn't have a car at home then. I had to get a ride when we had plays and things at school.

After graduation

I finished school here at Bethesda and then I went to Draughon's Business College for a year. After I finished, I worked with Metropolitan Nursing as a clerk for a year. Then I went from there to Montgomery Ward and I worked there as a payroll clerk. It was located at Fifth and Church, on the corner. We had a lot of friends in Bethesda and I came back to ball games and other things while I was going to school in Nashville, on weekends.

During the war time it was hard to get anywhere because gas was rationed. I know that when I went to Nashville to board you had to have stamps to buy this, and you needed stamps for everything.


How did I met my husband Walter? I knew Walter for a long time, and I thought he was the stupidest around. I had a girl friend come home with me. The Ladds lived over there where Miss Annie is. We were always good friends, and I went to Miss Annie's all the time. So, I brought this girl one week end. It was on Sunday afternoon that we came over to Miss Annie Ladd's. And Raymond and Walter were over there; all the boys had come home from service. Of course, Raymond was just like a brother to me and Reena (??) went with Raymond then. And Walter was over there, and I just happened to get on the front seat and that's where it started. We went together about two years. In 1947 I married Walter. He was living up where we do now, with his father and mother.

My home place

Nearly all my days we lived with Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in the house. He's been gone now six years. ________ has been gone nineteen years. Mrs. Taylor has been gone twenty years this June. I've been up there all the time. I've been there about 49 years.

My house is the white house on the hill [just north and east of and overlooking the intersection of roads at the store]. That house was moved over there--two rooms of it was moved--in 1847. I don't know how old it was, because it was moved from way back over on the road to Jimmy D. Bennett's. It was moved with oxen. I don't know how many they had to hitch to it for two rooms. And then, they just built on to it.

When I first moved here after we were married, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were renting the place from the Irvings. They had cows, milked them on the share, and they had hogs and things. Mr. Taylor would kill hogs, and carry their part of the meat to them and everything. They were real nice to them, and when they got ready to sell the place they sold us everything they had, what they had on it and everything. Went for eighteen thousand for 184 acres and about 20 cows, and hogs. They just sold it like it was.

The people that owned the place--as far back as I can remember, as Mr. Taylor told me--were the Horton's and the Steeles. The Irving's owned it when we bought it from them in 1952. There's been a lot added to it since we have had it. Mildred was telling me this morning that it has sleighs. (runners for moving the house??) I don't know how long it took when they moved, or when they had those cabins fixed there. [There are three small log cabins, in good condition, close to the house.] The middle cabin is where the Irvings, the old generation of the Irvings, cooked out there and brought the food in. The far cabin is where, I understand, the slaves were. We used the first cabin for a smokehouse, but now it is just really a junk holder. We need to clean them all up.

I don't know if they just put the cabins there, or they just moved the house there and the cabins were already there. I can't tell you that. Mildred, that's my sister-in-law, was telling me that the house where I live has an attic, which has never been completed, that has little windows in it, up above. And that's where they peeked out to watch during the Civil War.

We never found anything about the Civil War or slaves on the place. There have been several people who wanted to come out and check but if they found anything I never did know it.

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT CLEAR******************

The Irvings, Mr. Ellic (??) and Mr. Shear (??) Irving owned the whole place. The way I understand it, old ladies lived there--old maids, about four of five of them, I think. Mrs. Taylor and them were living down there where Jean was. That's where Mr. and Mrs. Taylor lived there in 1936, when Mr. Ellic and Mr. Shear bought the Irving place, which was their granddaddy's, the old place up there. Mr. Ellic and them had gotten to where they couldn't take care of it and wanted to get out of it. Mr. Taylor and Walter bought the place, in 1952. But, we lived there before then. We lived there and they rented the farm next to it across the street.

We had electricity when we first came to Bethesda in 1947 but we didn't have refrigerators--just had electric lights. I doesn't seem like too many years since we've had a cook stove, and we used the wood stove in the kitchen for a long time. Of course, Mr. Taylor and them wouldn't hear for an electric stove. There were a lot of things he didn't want. When the children were little--Lane was a baby--we kept our milk the way the Irvings kept their food from spoiling. There is a well right out in the back. We had a bucket that we put the bottle and their food in, and let it down into the well to keep things from spoiling. It was cool down there.

I said I wished that some of these young people could go back and just see--they just can't believe it. They don't know how we even ironed.

The old maids

But these old ladies. I remember Mrs. Taylor used to sit with them. One of them was in bed for a long time, and she helped her until she died. There was four rooms. There are two rooms over the front and there are two rooms in the back, upstairs. They said that each one had a room. I don't know if that is true or not. Jean can tell you a lot more about the old ladies, because they are her great aunts or great great aunts.

Mrs. Taylor told me that one time Jim (??) lived up there with the old ladies when everybody died out except her--I think its when Mrs. Alice got in with the last one. ??????? They come up there and stayed with her.

The milk barn

[Jessie: didn't you have the first milk barn around here?]

They milked before they ever built the milk barn, in 1950. They would carry it out to the road on the wagon. Mr. Taylor was telling me that he told James Bond what kind of cows to get when he got into the milking business. I don't know if James milked any before or not. I know we were really proud of our milk barn because we sold the grade A milk.

We milked about 40 cows at one time. We had tanks, and trucks would come in and pick the milk up. At first, when we were milking and not selling grade A milk, we had trucks to come by at the end of the road. We'd have to carry it out in cans. We had a little milk stand beside the road. Walter and them made a little wagon to take three or four cans at a time, every day.

Then when we got our barn we had a tank and the milkman didn't come every other day. The tank was to keep the milk cool all the time. It was run by electricity and was a 500 gallon tank. Of course, it took a lot to fill up a 500 gallon tank. And then you had your automatic washers to wash the tank and all out, and you had your vats. You had one room just full of that and you had a room for the cows to come in. From the first we had machines but later we went to the pipeline that run it into the tank. Then all you had to do was just wash the cows and put the cups on the cows. It is just really amazing to see how the milk went to the tank. We had just about the only milk barn except for James Bond, and later on John Williams, and the Macmillans. Now just about everybody is out of the business except the Bonds and Everett Hayes.

End of the milking business

I milked for nine years, by myself. Well, Richard helped me. I quit in 1985. One morning the last year everything was froze up and Richard was sick. Snow was up over my ankles and I thought, "Lawd, if you will just let me live through this I'm going to quit!" Mr. Taylor, he kept on after me, "you're going to fall out there at the barn." I loved it and I miss it, but I couldn't do it now, anyway. After you have been used to it for so many years you just like to do it.

I have missed it, but I don't have any cows. Richard has all the cows now. I did have some that we sold calves off of until last year, but I told him to take what I had left and do whatever he wanted to with them. It was just a gamble. We were talking here a while back about it being a gamble farming. You don't never know. Cows die. [Jessie: well, that is about five or six hundred dollars. Several cows have died in the Bethesda area within the week before this interview and something in the grass that was now coming up was suspected by a vet.] You have lost a lot, and you never know when they are going to get sick. They don't generally pull out of it, I'll tell you, when a cow gets sick. It's sad, really sad. A farmer doesn't get much for what he gets now. I don't know what they are going to do.


Now they talk about the kids being bad, but there was a lot going on back then, too. It's killing now, but then it was more pranks.

[Jessie recalled when Shorty and Squeaky put forks in the piano, and a lot of things like that. Mr. Lulu always wore a shirt with Hawaiian things on it. He would sit down to play and the forks would go flying out of the piano amid strange plunks. The kids thought it was funny, and every one would get into trouble because they all laughed. She also recalled when Shorty, Paul Williams, and some other boys got a blind pony and put it in a school room. When we got off the bus the next morning, everything was going on. We thought it was fun. But Cleo told us to get in that room, sit down, and not dare look out the window. We would go to looking out the window and she would go to hitting us in the head with a book because wee wanted to see what was going on. Mr. Harris was the principal; mean, I mean he was mean. Had to be!]

We had a teacher that taught me math. I was talking to Nelson Alexander here a week or so ago and he said, "can you remember?" And I said, "yes, mighty well. He was kinda' cross eyed and you could never tell when he was looking at you." In study hall I would think he was looking somewhere else and he would be looking at me, and would say, "you are just worse than a worm in hot ashes! You just jump from one place to the other." Nelson said that one time when they were having something up there at school, they jammed his car--twisted it in between--to where he couldn't get in it. They did some mean things but nothing like they do today.

When we used to get home we would get a spanking for what we did.

Sometimes I kept Brian and ______. They used to tell me, "Nanny, you used to catch us in behind the house when we were carrying on." I said, "Let me tell you something. I almost had to whip you." I used to catch them and pull them apart and they would say, "Nanny, you've hurt us." Now they tell me they don't see how I kept them. I couldn't do it no more.

The graveyard

The graveyard close by is the Earlys and the Millards (???). James Fuller (???) is over there. {???Ray Marshall, Ray Manning, Greg Millard, there's a bunch over there.} I heard Mrs. Taylor tell about when they buried Bro. Millard, who was a preacher. It was raining so hard and the water had gotten in the grave. They had to push the casket down and hold it down in the water. Its a shame that the graveyard is grown up. They used to have somebody to clean it off. They put a fence and bulldozed it off but it still needs work to fill up the graves. Jane's little sister is buried up there.

They had a group that went around trying to find all these old graveyards. They never did have this one on there. I knew it was there because it was fenced off, but we have fenced it closer in now because there won't never be anybody buried up there no more. We asked Jean and she said it would be all right with her. But, she said there might be some graves on the outside that were colored or slaves. Some of the graves don't have tombstones. You know, slaves didn't have tombstones.

Rural life for me

[Jessie: what do you think about living in one community all your life?]

I think it is nice, but I still wouldn't want to be in town; it's too close. I'm close enough. A lot of them wanted me to sell off some of my land up there, and I said, "no, not as long as I live it will never be sold." But ______doesn't want any sold either so we won't ever sell it. Several years ago one of our preachers said, "that lot out there in the front of the school would be a fine place." We have 151 acres. It runs way on back into the woods part. It was 184 acres till we sold 19 acres off, over there like you are going to where William Marlin and Pat Marlin live. All that went with this place. You ran our cattle and cows all over there.

Changes in Bethesda

[Jessie: tell us about the changes that have been in Bethesda in the last 50 years.]

There have been a lot. Of course, the church [Methodist] was one thing that has been a great change. There used to be an older church than that one somewhere down the line. It was in 1961 when we moved to the new church. The old church had a lodge. I guess Miss Bessie told you that that's where Mr. Taylor and them were all raised.

As far as the community is concerned, we have had so many new people that have moved in. Houses have been built. I used to could tell about everybody's car that drove up to the store. Now I don't know nobody's. And really, when I have seen them out, it's been so many years since I have seen them, I don't know who they are. I went to the ball game last night, but I just didn't know anybody because I hadn't seen them in so long.

Some final thoughts

Mr. Taylor told me some things, and I put them away on a piece of paper somewhere before he died. He told me some things that were in the Tennessean before he got sick. They came out from the Tennessean and made a picture of him. They wanted to show a picture of the ham that we had in the smokehouse, and had him stand and hold the ham on a stick. Of course, I was keeping the children then; Elaine's three little children and Janet's (??) little boy.

It's been a good life and it's been a bad life too.

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