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Raised On Songs and Stories by: Jean Shaeffer

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Almost half a century has passed since I first wrote for the Floyd Press. I was a young schoolgirl where Schoolhouse Fabrics now stands, writing a report about my fifth grade 4-H club. Pete Hallman ran the Floyd Press and, like now, people looked to the Press for news of the county.

Commerce was less centralized than today and each small community had its own stores. Instead of the thirteen miles I now travel for gas or a candy bar, shopping was more convenient then. Beulah Nichols’s store was one mile from home and my grandpa’s store not much farther.
Besides our country stores, the town of Floyd had most other items—necessary things that would have mattered to my parents and other adults. But the town’s offerings satisfied my childhood interests, too—a movie theater, Christmas toys at Mr. Ayers’ dry goods store, bicycles at Western Auto, and five-cent ice cream cones at Woolwine and Rutrough’s drug store. I used to save up nickels from my school ice cream money and made wonderful purchases. For the rest of our shopping, we depended on the Sears and Roebuck catalog or occasional trips to Roanoke.
Some people went to Christiansburg for shopping, but it was not much bigger than Floyd back then. And the New River Valley—well, it was interesting because of its geology. “Oldest in the world, save the Nile Valley,” said my geology professor. I was more interested in our own rivers, and the day trout season opened each year found many of us waiting on the banks of Little River and its tributaries, ready to drop in our lines at high noon.
Thomas Wolfe said “you can’t go home again,” but I am trying to do just that—living once more on the family farm where I grew up. My perspective is that of a native, but also that of a newcomer. With older eyes, I try to understand a special place and what it has meant to me and those who came before. As I drive through the county, I see what I remember and I see what is new. When I stroll through town, it is like that, too.
In the pages that follow, I hope this double-vision view will become focused as I write about my re-entry—and provide insights into a journey we all must make, in one way or another.
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