Alison Phillips' Farm Life Memoirs 1910 - 1935

Alison Phillips - Age 55

My Memoirs of Farm Life in Princess Anne County, VA. for the period of 1910 to 1936.  Each referenced page contains a photograph and tells about farm life and the people that worked the vegetable fields.  I have written quite intimately of the trials and desperation of life on the truck farm during and after the great depression.

I wish I looked like this today.  But, I am writing this page 30 years later, long after I left Princess Anne County and my retirement farm in Gloucester, VA.

I am revisiting the this page 42 years after I first published it, and here am I at age 92, in 2010

My Dear Mother and Father - circa 1900 Once of the first things I should do, before commencing these memoirs is to introduce you to the people that made these memoirs possible, my Mother and Father. I am an adopted child, and without these two generous and loving people, my life would have been so different. I became their only child just after my birth mother died. They took me in as their own, nurtured me, and instilled in me the desire to reach for the stars. Daily, I think of them and yearn to thank them in the kingdom to come.

Life On Phillips Farm In Princess Anne County
My memories of farm life on Dad's farm on Shell Road in Princess Anne Country, Virginia. We lived in an historic brick house constructed circa 1780. We grew a variety of vegetables which were shipped by steamboat to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. But, times became tight during the late 1920's and 1930's and I tell all about that.

The Old Phillips Farm House.
Shown is a photo of my home as it appeared in 1909.   The cedar shake roof may well have been the original, for it was covered with green moss, which to a degree reduced the leaking during brief showers, but we still had to place pots and pans on the upstairs floor and our bed, to keep from getting wet. Please note the Wisteria enshrouded porch that kept the south sun from beating in.   The accompanying text I records memories of how it was to grow up in an old house without plumbing or electricity.

1909 Photo Of Dad And His Brother, Will
This page displays Dad and his brother, Will, lounging in the chicken yard on the farm Dad just acquired in 1909. You can look across the marsh and see a tenant house on Nat Williams farm. I tell a little of the history of the Phillips family and how the farm appeared at my earliest memories.

The Earthen Paths On The Phillips Farm.
Here is a narrative telling about the various time worn paths that lead to many interesting places on the old Phillips farm. The time period is from 1920 - 1940. This narrative provides an insight of how things were on the farm during that period.

The Life and Times Of John Phillips, My Dad
I must tell you the story of John Milton Phillips, who adopted a motherless boy and gave me his good name which I carry today. He was born in 18?? and he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in 194?. Dad came from a fine family that once owned Truxton Manor(the present location of the Norfolk International Airport.) After divesting Truxton Manor, Dad's parents acquired an historic home in Algonquin Park which stands today. After his father's death Dad and his recent bride moved to the Murray Houses of antiquity on Shell Road in Princess Anne County.

Our Chicken Yard - Quality Time with Dad
Here is a photo of my Dad shot with a box brownie camera in 1934. He is standing in front of a fig tree. We had a very nice and productive fig grove that gave us all the figs we could use. Mom would put up fig preserves with walnuts in them for my school lunch. We had many nice Japanese walnuts trees in our yard, and we made good use of them. I tell more of what Dad did for me and others. In this picture he shows the character of many years of working and sharing.

John Phillips At Our Pig Pen
This picture was taken somewhere around 1933. The brood of pigs here shown were the offspring of Sooki, a sow I grew from a tiny pig. At my urging Dad and I built the pig pen down hill from the barn. I describe how I secured a boar from a farmer on Providence road, and brought the boar to Sooki in a farm cart that Dad built. I also explain the hog killing procedure and how meat is cured.

My Mother, Bertha Phillips, and Baby Alison
Photograph of Mother and I taken in 1920. We are in the side yard of the Phillips Home in Princess Anne County, Va. I tell of my mother's early life on a farm in Susquehanna County, PA, and how she went to live with an Aunt Ella in Tenafly, NJ. I tell of her college days, how she became a teacher, her marriage to John Milton Phillips, her brief life in Algonquin Park, and then life on the farm.

Memories Of Aunt Mary, Part Time Nanny
This page shows a 1920 photograph of Aunt Mary and Little Alison in a field of snap beans on the Phillips Farm in Princess Anne County, Virginia. I tell about Aunt Mary and the boiling of clothes in a open pot, and about the biscuits she cooked on the iron wood stove. I then recall some of my memories of Aunt Mary back in the 1920's. Included are details of her stroke and the murder of her husband.

Hattie Williams And Her Family
Hattie Williams and her family lived in a three room wood house on the edge of the Phillips farm in Princess Anne County. She had a large family that helped grow and harvest the vegetables produced for shipment to northern ports. Hattie's youngest boy, Napoleon Bonaparte Williams, was my playmate as a child. Maryland, her next oldest boy was our principal farm hand. I show a picture of Hattie and tell about her life.

Grandpa Richards Comes To Live With Us
This narrative is about Grandpa Richards, his Pennsylvania dairy farm, and his Brooklyn, Pa. home. It also is about my childhood exploits when Mom and took him north to spend the summers in Brooklyn, Pa. It covers the years from 1922 to 1935. Grandpa, Charles Fronefield Richards, was a civil war veteran. He came to live with us in our Princess Anne County home in 1930. At that time he was 89 years old. His $100 a month pension put food on our table. He was a demanding soul and worked my mother pretty hard. He occupied one of our two bedrooms, and passed away in his sleep at the age of 95.

Daddy, Maryland, and Liz Harvesting Hay
An old photo made in 1936 Shows Daddy with a long handled fork pitching Hay up to Maryland Williams, on top of the cart. I tell how Dad built the cart from oak lumber. Maryland is arranging the hay between four stanchions to maximize the load. Liz, our faithful mule, awaiting patiently in the shaves of the cart, while our Rat Terrier, Chum stands alert awaiting for a mouse or rat to scurry from the hay pile.

My Colored Playmates On The Farm
Shown here Is Gussie Benson eating a slice of watermelon in front of the tool shed that Dad built. You can see the wheelbarrow that Dad built at my urging. I tell stories of the adventures that I had playing with Hattie's' and Blanches' children. I confess to the day we crossed the marsh and invaded the Murray Williams yard to confiscate a burlap bag of black walnuts after knocking them off the tree with sticks.

Alison Phillips' Corn Crop 1934
I show a picture taken in 1933 of me standing proudly before the beautiful corn field I labored so hard to grow. It resulted from an agriculture project I took while a Junior in Kempsville High School. I go into considerable detail on tomato culture as we practiced in 1936. I also tell of what a fiasco I made by not heeding my Dad's sound counsel when I attempted to grow soy beans on a piece of very poor land owned by Tom Doughty.

My Fine New Hampshire Sow
It was around 1933 when I talked my Dad into building a pig pen and raising a brood of pigs. Times were tight and he agreed. Here you will find a posed portrait of the best sow ever grown. She meant so much in my young life, and with pain I sacrificed her to put food on our table. I tell of his fine breed of swine.

Memories Of Alison Phillips, 1936 - 1944
I talk about a number of jobs I held during the period between 1936 and 1944. Some old photos are shown. I worked as an apprentice with Mr. Lovelace constructing homes. I worked for the Cudahy Meat Packing Company. I tell of living in Campostella, where son Charles was born. The moving on our first home from Ocean View to Sparrow Road is related. I also tell of Living with Mrs. Walker in Silver Spring Maryland while attending Bliss Electrical School.

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