The thirty WWII-era oral history interviews in this series speak for those “who never would talk about the war.” To collect these stories, the project engaged five age groups over its nine-year span, 2007-2015. The high school students who interviewed the older generation explored each interviewee’s story, developed short films based on the oral history, learned about early life “From the Front Porch” of Floyd County, about the “Front Lines” in the Pacific and European theaters of World War II, and post-war peacetime transitions.
The Floyd County boys who served in World War II did so after weighing hard choices. Very few volunteered and a number worked under deferments before being drafted. Many left small mountainside farms, often worked using horse-drawn equipment. At an early age these new sailors and soldiers understood hard work. After Pearl Harbor, Floyd boys in the Navy learned to swim in basic training. Men who had never traveled much beyond county lines boarded trains for ocean crossings. What they didn’t know, they learned: maneuvering vehicles in mine fields, maintaining aircraft, building bridges, or setting explosives. Families found ways to support their neighbors, ration supplies, and locate foreign places on maps. Women found work at canneries, the Radford Ordnance Works, and the local sewing factory.
“From the Front Porch to the Front Lines: Rural Virginia on a Threshold of Change,” a WWII-era oral history, two DVD-set with a twelve page booklet, a product of the Floyd Story Center-Old Church Gallery, Ltd., Radford University, and Floyd County High School.
The DVD two disc and booklet set is available for $15.00 from our Gallery Shop.
Throughout its tenure (1999-2020), Floyd Story Center’s oral history project has kept community connections as a primary theme to guide our work.
THE FARMHOUSE PORCH – “You had no money. If you had a little farm or something, you could make it very well, but without that you couldn’t.” — Harold Spence
- Nester, Robert G. / In Floyd County
- Kelley, Alvin / Boy of Payne’s Creek
- Nolen, Marvin / A WWII Story
- Slusher, Maurice / Small Town–Big Hopes
- Shortt, McCrey / Plenty to Eat & Shoes to Wear
- Phillips, Sammie / Childhood Memories
- Quesenberry, Virgie / A Simpler Time
- Marshall, Burnett / Before the War
EUROPEAN FRONT LINES – “Get it done, and get home!” — Arlie Thompson
- Smith, Charles Robert / WWII D-Day Veteran
- Marshall, Burnett / During WWII
- Quesenberry, Virgie / “Red” 157th Engineers
- Vaughn, Posey (daughter) / A Far Away War
- Shortt, Roger / Building Bridges
- Thompson, Arlie / Through the Eyes of a Soldier
PACIFIC FRONT LINES – “They knew we was country boys, and . . . were tough.“ — Troy Smith
- Hayden, William / WWII Navy
- Phillips, Orland / Wartime Choices
- Kelley, Alvin / Enjoy the Little Things
- Nolen, Marvin / Mighty Midgets
- Smith, Troy / WWII Army Air Corps
- Smith, Troy / Indian Valley
BEHIND THE LINES – “There I was across the river, and I couldn’t get back.” — Arthur Conner
- Goad, Clarence / Life & Times
- Bernardine, Sunny / WWII USO Performer
- Wood, Laurence / Laurence Wood in WWII
- Boothe, Lowell / Off the Beaten Path
- Conner, Arthur / Shaping A Man
- Shelor, George / George W. Shelor: WWII
- Shortt, McCrey / A WWII Journey
- Spence, Harold / There and Back Again
HOME FRONT – “You never did know what you would hear.” — Lucille Nolen
- Nolen, Lucille / Wife of a Soldier
- Vaughn, Ruby / Beauty from Tragedy
PEACETIME PURSUITS – “When I come back, I never did
leave no more.” — Arthur Conner
- Boothe, Lowell / Worldwide-Teaching Agriculture
- Slusher, Maurice / Baseball Career
- Phillips, Sammie / Going with the Grain
- Phillips, Sammie / Home Again
- Wood, Laurence / Life Lessons
- Goad, Clarence / Life of Clarence and Magdalene
- Nolen, Lucille / Lucille & Edd–Hardworking
- Shelor, George / Big Tree: A Hardworking Life
DVD Project Credits
- Kathleen Ingoldsby—Project Director, Floyd Story Center
- Melinda Bollar Wagner—Professor Emerita, Radford University
- Catherine Pauley—Executive Vice President, Old Church Gallery, Ltd.
- Janice Shelor—Treasurer, Old Church Gallery, Ltd.
- Project Support Team—Alice Slusher, Janet Keith, Jama Coartney, Tim Smith, Randall Wells, Shayley Martin, Sierra Alexander, Pat Rose, and Bridget Lucas – Signature Designs
DVD Menu Music
- Mountain Ivy Band / “Remember Me”
- Stanley Lorton: / “Soldier’s Joy,” “In the Sweet By and By,” “Cluck Old Hen”
- Korn Kutters with Sam McNeil / “Long Tongued Woman”
- Over the Hill Gang / “Natural Bridge Blues”
- United States Army Old Fife & Drum Corps / “Fisher’s Hornpipe”
The Floyd Story Center at the Old Church Gallery, Ltd., P.O. Box 41, Floyd, Virginia, with support from Radford University, produced this DVD set of Floyd County High School student films through a 2017 public humanities grant from Virginia Humanities. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of Virginia Humanities or its funding agencies.