“I was raised up on a farm, sharecropping” Lee Everet Dial told Nancy Gatlin, of Virginia Beach’s Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, a homeless shelter and recovery center. At 78, Lee is a former resident of JCOC, and still comes by for the occasional meal.
“When I was 11 years old,” Lee continued, “I used to take two big mules and turn ground all day long, out in the country. It weren’t easy.”
The oldest of eleven children, Lee worked 72 acres of cotton, corn, and tobacco on his family’s land in North Carolina. The job was year-round and left him with little time for school. “I got to school about two days a week, and I was the biggest kid in school. I got disgusted with school. My dad said, ‘you’re worth more to me at home than you are in school. You got to work on this farm. We got to live.’ And so it was hard,” Lee remembered. “And I still have a problem with not being able to read and write. But God sees me through.”
Lee brought his guitar to the booth. While growing up, he used to play clubs in Virginia and North Carolina. Today, Lee fills the booth with his bluesy renditions of “
WHRV 89.5 FM welcomed StoryCorps to Norfolk, Virginia on October 22, the eve of our 6th year of listening.
Our friends at 89.5 FM not only set up a huge banner over Waterside Drive announcing our arrival, but they also provided music and food for guests at our opening day. Of course, the best part of any opening day is the stories we hear from our participants.
Brenda H. Andrews interviewed her friend Andrew I. Heidelberg about his experiences as one of the Norfolk 17, the first group of black students to attend previously white schools during desegregation in Virginia. One day, when 12 year-old Andrew was coming home for dinner, there were two women and a man from the NAACP at his family’s home. They wanted to recruit Andrew in their efforts to get African-American students into recently desegregated schools. Andrew agreed to participate but had no idea what to expect. Months later at age 13 was his first day at Norview High School. Despite the tremendous prejudice he faced on a daily basis from white students at Norview, he knew he would graduate. “I didn’t want to let them make me quit,” he said.
A tale of triumph over a different kind of adversity came from Ray Evans who spoke with his daughter Debra Matthews about what it was like to be a child evacuee in England during World War II. His separation from his family found him in foster home after foster home, some of them warm and loving and others awful and abusive. Ray also talked about the bittersweet moment when he had to leave his final foster home-a wonderful, caring place-to return to his family.
Mr. Heidelberg summed up the message of both stories when he said, “Quitters never win and winners never quit!”