The Interviewees

The Historical Society of West Point would like to thank the 18 community members who were gracious enough to take their time to be interviewed for this video in October 2011. By sharing their memories and knowledge about the West Point area we have been able to capture documentation for present and future generations.

Pictured left to right are: Row 1: Beatrice Jones, Alice Lee Reid, Lillian Davis Blondek, Dorothy Sessions Sours, Dorothy Martin Walker Krewatch, Virginia Brown Vranian, (Avril Gove Williams and Pemmy Johnson Peterman of West Point Historical Society). Row 2: Dorothy Martin Putney, Rosetta Dobbins Jarvis, Raymond Tokarz, Emily Darden, Row 3: R. Tyler Bland III, Henry V. “Dal” Perry, Tad Darden, (Dave Lipscombe and Darlene Reilly of L! Marketing). Row 4: Peggy Wood Sears, John H. Lee. Absent Virginia Sturtz Kopacki, Louise Nuttall Croswell Panak, Donald O’Connor, Dr. Richard Hosfield.

The Interview House

The Historical Society of West Point would like to thank Emily and Tad Darden who graciously opened their lovely home in October 2011 for the Historical Society interviews of community citizens for use on their website.

The Darden Home was built in 1920 by Rose and Charlie Bray. Mr. Bray was a pharmacist and the owner of Bray’s Drug Store located on the corner of 7th and Main Streets. The Darden’s moved to West Point in 1966 and in 1969 purchased the Bray home. Tad Darden was a pharmacist and owned Plaza Pharmacy in the same building that was formerly Bray’s Drug Store. Emily and Tad raised their family of 5 in their home on Lee Street where they still reside.

Bios

R. Tyler Bland III (Ty)

Born 1943 • Age 68 at time of interview • Lived on Lee Street

Family: Tyler Bland Jr., father; Gertrude C. Bland, mother; Bill, younger brother; and Beverly, younger sister.

Ty met his wife Anne Trevilian Bland in West Point and raised two sons. He attended West Point schools through 10th grade and graduated from Randolph Macon Academy. He played school football and basketball and loved water sports, fishing and crabbing, and anything mechanical.

Ty attended St. John's Episcopal Church.

Lillian Davis Blondek (Lill)

Born 1919 • Approximately 93 year of age at time of interview • Lived on Thompson Avenue

Family: Lill was the ninth child of fourteen children; seven boys and seven girls.

She was born in Barhamsville, New Kent County, and lived on a farm. In 1932 she moved to the Eltham area and when she was twenty-nine years old she moved to West Point, Virginia. Lill married Albert G. Blondek (d. 1994) in Salina, Kansas.

She attended Barhamsville, New Kent Elementary and New Kent High School. She participated in school basketball and was a member of the King William County Woman's Club (twice President). She also worked at the King William County Red Cross two days a week and helped get military servicemen home, setup bloodmobile visits, swimming classes and helped victims of home fires. For twenty-five years she volunteered at the Riverside Nursing Home.

Lill attended First Baptist Church.

Dr. Richard H. Hosfield

Born 1945 • Age 67 at time of interview • Lived on Lee Street

Family: Dr. Hosfield was the middle child with older sister Louise and younger sister Kathy. His father was a physician and originally from Akron, Ohio and his mother's family has been on the Middle Peninsula since the 1600s. He married Joan B. Hosfield in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania and has three children, Elizabeth, Carolyn, and George.

He was born in Buxton, North Carolina and his family moved to West Point when he was one year old.

Dr. Hosfield attended West Point High School and graduated class of 1963 with 28 students in the class. He participated in the school Rifle Club and Band. Later he worked in West Point as a physician at Family Physicians of West Point and practiced Family Practice Medicine from 1976-2005.

He attended West Point Christian Church.

Rosetta Dobbins Jarvis

Born 1938 • Age 72 at time of interview

Family: Rosetta was the third child with two older sisters, Eula Mae and Annie Lee. Her father , Charles, worked at the Chesapeake Corporation for 43 years and her mother, Ida Mae, did laundry in her home for others and was a domestic worker.

Rosetta married Monroe V. Jarvis July 20th, 1957 at the Tidewater Agricultural Fair and has three children, Gwendoly, James and Kim. In 2007 she and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Rosetta attended Beverly Allen and St. Clare Walker High School. After completing her high school education and vocational school she became a seamstress. She worked for Middlesex County Public School for 31 years as a school bus driver and substitute teacher. She was also a food service worker at Christchurch School for 25 years.

Her fondest childhood memories are cleaning hard crab shells for Deviled Crabs for Bray's Seafood Shop on 13th Street, getting a Snowball from Miss Odell's Shop on 15th Street and then a Quickstep softball game on the field across the Liquor Pond.

She attended Mt. Nebo Baptist Church in West Point.

Beatrice O. Jones (Bea)

Born 1928 • Age 84 at time of interview • Lived in King and Queen County

Bea attended Beverly Allen High School and her freshman class of students from West Point and King and Queen County. In 1943 King and Queen County didn't have a high school for colored children and her parents could not afford to send her to Rappahannock Industrial Academy, a private school in Essex, Virginia, because her sister was already attending. She had to repeat the 7th grade while the Parent's League was negotiating with the Public School System for a high school. The League requested a bus to transport students to Beverly Allen High School in West Point and in September 1944 she was one of the first students to be bussed to the high school. The transportation fee was $3 a month per child and the tuition fee was also $3 a month per child. She graduated in June 1948.

 

Virginia Sturtz Kopacki

Born 1932 • Age 81 at time of interview

Family: Parents owned and operated a dry cleaning business and she was the sixth child of ten.

Virginia and her husband grew up together and were married in 1952. They had four children, Edward, Jr. Kathy, Michael, and Steve. She and her family enjoyed growing up in a quiet and safe small town. Growing up Virginia attended Catholic Elementary and West Point High School.

Virginia attended Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Dorothy Martin Walker Krewatch (Dot)

Born 1917 • Age 95 at time of interview • Lived on King William Road (Port Richmond) and River Road

Her father owned a country store and cut, sold & delivered pine timber cuts to the Chesapeake Corp. Growing up, she lived in King William County, but attended West Point schools. She attended Mary Washington & West Hampton Colleges. She was married to Burton Walker and raised 4 children in West Point. After Burton's death, she married Sam Krewatch & continued to live in West Point.

Dot attended Brett Reed Memorial Presbyterian Church.

John H. Lee

Born 1934 • Age 78 at time of interview • Lived 3rd and Lee Streets; 8th and Lee Streets; 13th and Kirby Streets

Family: Mother died when he was very young and he was raised by his grandmother, Alice C. Allen, widower of Beverly Allen. He had six siblings and he was the youngest.

John's home on 3rd Street was the first African American home in West Point, Virginia. It was where the Freedman Bureau Teachers taught children in the morning and adults during the night. He loved playing with his white neighbors and the camaraderie between the races and they visited each other's homes before integration.

John attended Beverly Allen High School (named after his grandfather) and there were nine in his graduating class. He participated in the school choir, basketball, baseball and 4H Club.

John received a BS in music education from Virginia State College (University), a MA in music/music education from Columbia University, and a Certificate in Secondary School Administration from the College of William and Mary. He further studied at Boston University and Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and certificates. Among which he was honored as Man of the Year at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church in West Point, Richmond Chapter of National Association of Negro Musicians Honoree, Virginia Music Teachers Association Award honored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

John was a band and choral teacher at Central High School in King and Queen County and later became an assistant principal and acting principal. He was also a former adjunct music instructor at Virginia Union University and conducted many choral workshops and clinics with many in the Williamsburg area.

John attended Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and was Minister of Music for over 50 years and became Director of Music Ministries.

Donald O’Connor

Born 1933 • Age 78 at time of interview • Lived on Lee Street

Family: Ninth child of nine children. Married Doris Waxmunski and has one daughter. He loved being a part of a large family.

He attended our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament for grammar school and then West Point High School. Donald continued his education at University of Richmond. He enjoys sailing, fishing and working with the Historical Society of West Point.

Donald attended Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Louise Nuttall Croswell Panak

Born 1929 • Age 82 at time of interview

Family: Two siblings, step sister Alice Nuttall and step brother James Hudgins. Her father was killed when she was three and her mother died in childbirth with step brother James Hudgins when she was five. She was raised by her grandmother.

Louise lived in West Point all her life and attended West Point schools. She married Marvin Croswell in 1948 when he came back from the war and later married her high school sweetheart Martin Panak in 2007. She had two children, Marvin, Jr. and Janet.

Louise enjoyed cross-stitching, playing outside with children in her backyard, going to Tucker's Beach, and attending Christmas Eve service at church and then riding around town looking at the Christmas lights.

Louise attended West Point Methodist Church.

Henry V. Perry (Dal)

Born 1922 • Age 90 at time of interview • Lived at 1st and Kirby Streets

Family: Dal was the third of three children, sister Mary Adams and brother Lynn. His father became a distributor for Texaco 1917 and his mother was a homemaker.

Dal was born in West Point, Virginia where he met his wife Jacqueline (Jackie) Ritchie. Growing up he loved to play anywhere, the river, open lots for ball games, etc. For most of his childhood he had a dog and a rowboat and loved sailing.

He attended West Point High School and graduated class of 1939 with 34 students in the class. In 1955 he became the manager of the Texaco and loved the people he worked with.

Dal and his father attended St. John's Episcopal Church while his mother, brother and sister attended a baptist church.

Dorothy Martin Putney (Dot)

Born 1925 • Age 87 at time of interview • Lived on Lee Street

Family: Father was a policeman and sergeant and her mother was a homemaker. Dot had one sister, Mary Anne. She met her husband at the West Point Hotel and had two children, Meriwether V. Putney, Jr and Dorothy Meriwether Putney Williams.

Dot loved growing up in West Point and the freedom she had during that time. She would ride a bicycle everywhere, walk to movies, row across the river to Brookshire and was never afraid. She loved to play football and Saturdays her classmates Virginia Bland and Judy Riech would pack lunch and ride their bikes to Five Mile Hill.

Dot attended West Point Elementary and West Point High School. She graduated from Mary Washington of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg class of 1947. She taught English at West Point High School. She also worked two summers for Lucky Strike Cigarettes in Richmond, Virginia.

Dot attended Brett-Reed Memorial Church on King William Road.

Alice Lee Reid

Born 1932 • Age 79 at time of interview • 3rd and Lee Streets

Family: Grew up in a family of five which included her grandmother. Later she lived with an aunt, Mrs. Gazelle Edwards, on 14th Street.

In 1954, Alice married her childhood friend, Miles Reid, and had a daughter, Alicia.

She attended Beverly Allen Elementary School, Beverly Allen High School and Virginia Union University where she was involved in the college choir, Young Women's Christian Association, and book clubs. She became an elementary teacher and taught for 18 years.

She has been involved with West Point Historical Society and church organizations and enjoys sitting in the sun, fishing, jogging, bicycle riding and skating. She also enjoys painting and scrapbooking of family and historical events.

Alice attended Mt. Nebo Baptist Church on 13th Street.

Peggy Wood Sears

Born 1927 • Age 85 at time of interview

Family: Her mother, Emma, kept house and her father, Dallas, worked as a Millwright in the maintenance department of the Chesapeake Corporation. She was their only child. Peggy and her husband, James, grew up together attending West Point schools. They were married in 1950 and have one son, Dallas.

Peggy attended West Point Elementary School and West Point High School graduating in 1944. She then attended Madison College (currently James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, Virginia where she received her Bachelor of Science in Education.

Some of Peggy's fondest memories of West Point include going to Richmond on the bus or train which was a big, special event and the peaceful slow pace of the town where doors were not locked and neighbors checked on each other. July 4th parades, Firemen's Carnivals and yard parties with lemonade, cake walks, etc. were just a few of the many things she enjoyed growing up.

Peggy loves music and at one time played in a local band. She also enjoys boating, fishing and golf with friends.

Peggy attended First Baptist Church of West Point, Virginia.

Dorothy Sessions Sours (Dot)

Born 1931 in Conway, South Carolina

Dorothy moved to West Point with her family at age 5. She attended West Point schools and was married in 1949. She was a homemaker & mother of 2 girls; Kathy and Linda. She worked at Carter House and York Wholesale Companies. Later she worked at Tidewater Insurers and retired from Leggett's Department Store when it closed. c.1989.

Dorothy attended West Point United Methodist Church.

 

 

Raymond Tokarz

Born 1921 • Age 92 at time of interview • Born in Port Richmond (current West Point)

Family: Mother and Father operated a grocery store where the family lived in the rear. His father was also Post Master of Port Richmond. Raymond was the 4th of 7 sons. Raymond met Harriet Hammer on a blind date and married her in 1943. They have two children, Andrea and Michael.

He attended Catholic school and West Point High School. Raymond graduated from Virginia Tech as an industrial engineer. He enjoyed the track team and Cotillion Club.

His most memorable moment was when the Pamuncky River froze and the Chesapeake Corporation used tug boats to break the ice which save most of the Eltham Bridge. Later the Chesapeake Corporation hired ferry boats to transport laborers.

Raymond enjoys boating, fishing, and crabbing as well as oil painting. He has also been active in the Kiwanis Club, Knights of Columbus, and the Town Council.

Raymond attended Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Virginia Brown Vranian

Born 1918 • Age 94 at time of interview • Lived on River Road

Family: Virginia's parents were farmers and she was the oldest of three children. She met her husband, Henry Vranian, in West Point, Virginia and was married on the City of Richmond steamboat in 1939. She had four children.

Virginia moved to West Point when she was 29 years old. Growing up she attended New Kent schools and loved getting ice cream at Ayeth's Confectionary for 5¢. She participated in Monday Club and the Women's Club and enjoyed traveling and knitting.

Virginia attended West Point United Methodist Church.