I think it’s time to remember the the Pruitt side of the family. My Dad grew up in Laurel Springs about a mile north on the Blue Ridge Parkway from what is now Freeborne’s and Stations Inn. It was quite a large family of 17 children. With a big age difference from oldest to youngest, I doubt that at any time they were all under one roof. I am very sorry to say that I don’t know a lot about our family history. The majority I learned at our last family reunion when a cousin shared some research. One of the more interesting details was that a Pruitt relative was the first white man born in the state of West Virginia. I take that to mean he was born soon after state hood in June of 1863.
My grandfather Eugene C. Pruitt and his brother Boyd married sisters Fannie and Belle Carver. My grandmother was Fannie. Papaw Pruitt had a large family to support, he raised chickens in a large chicken house two stores tall. I can still remember it intact. It seemed huge when I was young. He also had a trucking business and hauled produce from Florida to the Carolinas. Several of my dads sisters eventually moved to Florida and had families in and around the Palm Beach area. My dad told me stories of him and his brother Jerry tucking themselves into a big truck tire and rolling down the hill, stopping only when they hit the creek. I sure bet they were dizzy. Makes me woozy just to think about it. The old home place was a big seven room wood frame house with a small upstairs. I can remember the kitchen and the dining table was much like a big picnic table. I can just see mama Pruitt cooking up huge pots of beans and taters with a beef or pork roast for supper. Dad said you had to be quick or you missed out on the corn bread.
Eugene was a big supporter of Robert L. Doughton, an esteemed state senator and U.S. Congressman from Alleghany County. Anytime an election rolled around papaw would do whatever he could to turn out the vote. Knocked on doors, hold ralleys (poker games), whatever it took to get a vote for Doughton. He must have been successful because Doughton served in congress from 1933 -1953. I was recently told a story of when the school bus went by the Pruitt place it filled up and their was no room for anyone else. The school board in its wisdom solved this issue by stopping the bus from going there. I don’t think Eugene was pleased. He got in touch with Robert and within a couple of days the bus resumed its original route. Sometimes, its handy to know people.
About half of the family stayed in the area. Of course, I knew them best. During the summer months several of us would spend a night or two at papaws over the week end. Over the years we tore down that big chicken house, one cinder block at a time, using hammers and masonry chisels. We thought it great fun. I think papaw saw it as free labor. He was a great builder. He took those blocks and over the course of time built two more houses. It would always start out small with one or two rooms, but with many additions would end up 6 or 7 rooms. I think I must have that building gene in my DNA. We also played in the woods and creek. We built a dam one summer and had enough water backed up in that small creek to float a canoe maybe 200 feet upstream.
I only got to know a few of my aunts and uncles, Clarence died in a car crash while on leave from the Navy, and my aunts Jewel and Arnie passed before I can remember them. With such a big spread in age, I have an aunt Debbie Brown who is only a few years older than me. My uncle Kenny wasn’t much older either. Over the last five years we lost Kenny, Mamie and my dad Lonnie. Eight of the 17 still survive and the Florida sisters have moved back and everyone lives fairly close together. They all love and support each other and are loyal to a fault. Its always fun when we can get together and I can learn a little more each time about their lives. What’s even more fun is when many of the 50 first cousins get together. We are spread far and wide, but with the help of social media we can stay in pretty close touch. We have a strong bond even though some of us barely know one another. The coolest thing for me is to see the next generation come together. If you pay attention, you can see certain mannerisms and tones of speech that pass from one generation to the next. When all is said and done, nothing is more important than family.