Hear from Former Students

Interview with Marguerite Giles Williams, age 89. We visited Marguerite at her home in Dale City, Virginia

Marguerite is a wonderfully active lady. She still drives herself around and is very active with her church. She still goes to conventions out of town and sits on many committees.

Who were your parents?

My father was Dennis Milton Giles and my mother was Essie Giles.
My mother died when we were very young, and my father and grandmother raised us.

How many brothers and sisters?

Three sisters, Louise, Nellie, Estelle.

How long do you go to the Laurel Grove School?

I went to sixth grade, but by then the teacher was giving me eight grade work. You know with everyone in the same room, the teacher would give you work she thought you could do.

What did you do after Laurel Grove?

I wanted to go to high school, but we didn't have no schools except you had to go to D.C. you had to catch the train and Daddy said we didn't have enough money for that, and there was a lot of work to do at home. So I didn't get to go to any more school. I really regretted not going to high school, I think if I had the chance, I could have been good at it and maybe gone on to college. I've had several jobs. But I did get my GED when I was 65. I also took classes at Cortez Peters school. You know that was a business school. I got married young, fourteen or fifteen.

I've taken some classes at Northern Virginia Community CollegeKids today don't know how good they have it. Everything is right there for them. We had to struggle, but we valued our education. You see how kids today dress. You can't tell the girls from the boys.

How did you get to school?

We had to walk. We walked at least five miles. You know we lived in Pohick, now they call it West Springfield. But it is off of Rolling Road our church is still there, Clark's Chapel, but they call it something else now. We walked thru rain or snow.

Did you have boots or an umbrella?

No, didn't have boots or umbrella. To this day I don't use an umbrella. We didn't have no boots back then. When it was cold or snowed, you just put on more clothes long socks that came way up your leg. By the time you got to school you would be wet. We would go to our seats. Didn't have time to dry off. We would be the last ones to get to school because we walked so far.

Who did you walk to school with?

My sisters and my cousin. She was a Jeffries who live on the Gillingham Place. So we would leave home and she would meet us on the road and we would walk.

How long was the school day?

From about 9:00 until 3:00. You had to be out by three, so you could walk home before it got dark.

Did you ever think about not going to school because you had so far to walk?

No, I loved school. It was a time to see your friends. Because we lived so far away, we didn't come to Laurel Grove on Sunday's we went to Clark's Chapel

What kinds of games did you play?

Hide- and- go- seek, jump rope, ring-around-the-roses and see-saw.
The see-saw was on the other side of the church, it was a board over a tree stump.
Sometimes the older boys would come around for recess. You know they weren't in school because they had to work on the farm.

Who were your teachers?

Rhoda Kelly Arrington, Alma Walker, and Louise Washington. Sometimes Clarence Kelly and Dumont Walker substituted.

What do you remember most about furniture in the school?

Oh! We had a baby grand piano. You know it opened up. It sat in the corner and we would sing songs. It was a big piano.

Winnie Walker