Phoebus, by Inez Knox
Inez Knox was a dormitory director at Hampton Institute. Her undated narrative, published using a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offers unique and contemporaneous insights into personalities and racial relations in Phoebus.
This small area between Hampton and Old Point was government owned. Many Caucasians, soldiers, free Blacks and slaves were trying to find a place to live. The war having ended made them displaced persons.
During the war between the states, a hotel by the name of Hygeia had been erected at Fort Monroe. This was in 1822 but it was torn down in 1862. It had interfered with the guns on the post.
Mr. Joseph Segar had been its proprietor preceding the war. The Hygeia Hotel was rebuilt in 1868, where the bandstand is at Fort Monroe. Hygela needed help ~ans those who wanted and neded work were employed — some were Jeff Harris, Joseph Williams, York Williams, Solomon Smith, Hanover Banks, Sherman Taylor, Sam Houston and George Smith. These men were married and houses had to be built.
The ex-slaves had their choice of property as it was given them after the war. Small houses were erected with the small salaries.
The Hygeia had, in 1894, competition, because the Chamberlin first was erected. Both hotels were doing flourishing business under the leadership of Mr. Harrison Phoebus, a young dynamic man.
Mill Creek, before the war, and Chesapeake, after the war, were names of this area but on April I, 1900, was named Phoebus after Mr. Harrison Phoebus.
A number of men could see this area growing and opened several bars. It is said that there was a bar on every corner and one in the middle of each block; the main streets were Mellon, Mallory and Soldiers Home line, now South Mallory. Liquor flowing, the men needed entertainment; several men like Mr. Sheets, built houses for the young women on several streets and in order to find where they were, a small red light burned all the time on the porches. Persons living nearby who complained about the noise, could go for a cop and order was restored. A doctor cared for these young women weekly for health’s sake.
Naturally grocery stores, candy stores, post office, shoe stores, and men’s clothing stores were built.
Frank Phoebus, Harrison’s brother, was a contractor and builder; in 1897, two buildings, still standing, on Mellon Street were erected. The building next to Benthall’s grocery store, Mr. Wagner had a photographer’s shop and bookstore, next to that was Chris Mugler’s first clothing store. The flat over the store was the living quarters and became the birthplace of John Mugler, Sr.
The owners of property formed a council having a mayor to be the head; other men were asked to serve also for the welfare of all people.
Coal and wood was the means of heating and cooking. Mr. E.M. Tennis owned a place for such supplies on Mellon Street, where E.L. Clarke’s store is now. The building sold grain and seeds for gardens along with wood and coal, and in the back his horses and wagon were kept for delivery.
The streets had been layed off by the owners; they were of oyster shells brought from Hampton’s oyster house. These streets and parcels of land were marked off by the owners on buyers feet.
Ditches, where in the summer you could sit on the edge and catch fire flies (lightning bugs), put them in a jar, place them in a room and see the light from them. When it rained everyone pitched in to clean the ditches.
Most families did not have modern improvements. On Monday morning when you were awakened, you could look out of your bedroom window and sea the white clothes flying on the lines. You had pumped the water Sunday night for washing on Monday. Monday was wash day for the town. Most grocery stores would give you the large lard tins so the housewives could get the clothes white by boiling them; some made their own lye soap or used P&G or Octagon Soap.
Lancer’s corner housed one of the bars. Next to him on Mellon was Mr. Ackerman’s watch and jewelry repair shop. In 1900 this area was incorporated. In 1901 Morris Cooper opened his store– the one that is now in the same place and owned now by his son, Bernard– clothing for the family, materials or anything you needed. In 1902 in the same block, Frank Carmel opened his store for the family also selling materials, men and women’s clothing. If he didn’t have what you wanted, the other did.
Mr. Ka1ser and h1s lovely w1fe had a grocery store and fam11y home next to Mr. Hynickel’s bakery. The mothers did the marketing once a week. Newman had a store where Mrs. Levin is before moving to Hampton and I.A. Saunders who came here in 1900 and had his first store, 1904, next to him before moving across the street next to J.I. Fountain’s barber shop and greenhouse. Mr. Fountain and Jack Johnson on Hope Street, grew flowers in their greenhouses because they liked to; they gave more away than sold.
John White was first mayor; some of the others were Turner, Crawford, Ferberr, Turness, Dixon, Kearney, Snow and Taylor.
When the Chamberlin Hotel burned in 1920, a number of men were out of work. Hampton Institute gave a number employment. The new Chamberlin was erected 1928. A younger group of men worked as firemen, waiters, cooks and maintenance; some were, Lawrence Wilkerson, Lorenzo Neal, R. Drummond, Frank Knox, Joseph Major, Teenie Chapman, Robert Brown, Henry Gee, Joseph Fauntleroy, Daniel Barrow, William Stuart, Thomas Williams, S. Wright.
Mr. Harrison Phoebus was a strong person — one who was kind and the word “togetherness’’ was shown by him. Those who worked for him were thought of as persons; a willing hand was often used by him to help someone. Giving advice and aid was always forthcoming. His passing was missed but some of him had rubbed off on the town. We always thought of the town of Phoebus as having “faithful friends and being a friend to all.” Togetherness was the motto if we had had one.
Each man raised his family in this town; although the name Phoebus was known along the east coast as a terrible place, it did not dampen those who lived here.
R.E. Wilson had his first coal and wood and feed store on County Street and Fox Hill Road, now Woodland Road, and later moved to Mallory Street and C and O Railroad, where it is now.
In 1878 the Emanuel Episcopal Church was begun as a mission of Hampton’s St. John’s. It was on County and Booker Street, now on Mercury. Other churches were erected; the Phoebus Baptist Church on Mallory, Methodist Church on Howard and Curry now on Williard and Mellon, La Crosse Church on Chesapeake Avenue now on Mallory, and Zion Baptist on County Street; this land given by Samuel Armstrong, who as a missionary had founded Hampton Normal and Industrial School.
The Bryan sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, both graduates of the College of Preceptors, London, moved to Phoebus with their family from Liverpool in 1879. For many years they operated a private school. Later, Miss Jane Bryan taught in the public school of Phoebus; one elementary school is named in her honor.
Mrs. Estelle Moton on Fulton and Mary Smith on Hope Street had private schools also. Butler school run by Hampton Normal and Agricultural was open to everyone. At this time the scene was beginning to change in this area; more houses and children but they still had oyster shell streets and ditches.
Men could always reason together. Mr. Tennis, successful business man, and Mr. Fred Robinson, a former slave, agreed to give a certain number of feet, 10, a strip making a lane between Hope and Mallory, thus Tennis Lane was born. At first it was an outlet for R.E. Wilson so his wagons and horses could travel in and out delivering coal and wood, but later houses were built.
With the companies at Old Point, army, increasing so did the families making the area in need of almost everything.
Fuller’s Hotel for men, on the corner of County and Mallory, was erected; it still stands there today. Phil Fuller was in charge until his death. His sons now run it. His brother called “Cotton” Fuller and his sons were painters living on Popular Avenue, another short street.
The Derby’s were available also. On the opposite side of County and Mallory, Washington Diggs had a small concession and a livery stable; anyone who needed transportation, he provided. Horses as well as the buggies were kept in tip top shape. If you needed money, he could always lend it to you, with much interest.
Land could be bought by anyone and at any place. Those living this side of the railroad were considered in town.
On the corner of Hope and Mellon Streets was Larabee’s drug store. That building before had been the first post office. After Larabee went out of business, Woodward moved there; next door was Dr. Ward Sr.’s office and on the other side was the post office with Mr. Welch as post master. It was moved to its present location in 1938 with John Mugler, Postmaster.
After the passing of Mr. Diggs, his property was sold and Dr. Ward and Dr. Woodward purchased it and have their offices where they are now. Frank Shaheen purchased the corner lot to put up Frank’s Restaurant.
A number of soldiers stationed at Old Point raised their families here after purchasing land and building their homes. Among them was Floyd family and Red Carol Hunt’s father. Hunt, Departy Sheriff now, lived on Curry Street. Floyd was one of the early postmen, along with him Shepard Sherman and Nick White.
Mr. Tennis, Mr. Reese and a group of men formed the Bank of Phoebus located on the corner of Mellon and Mallory; behind the bank was a building which housed the office of the town’s lawyer, W.H. Power, and a plumbing shop, with Schmidt and Morris and Graham. Mellon Street was named after a former slave ended with his house. Behind it was Chesapeake Avenue; it was only a short street; narrow path took you to the street from Mellon and County.
This town had everything only on a small scale. In 1893 our fire department was founded; it was of volunteers and for years Charlie Hass was the lone one at the station house but when a fire alarm was given, every man who could run from his house to catch the truck did. There were rings for different parts of the town– one ring for the area this side of the railroad, two rings for the other side, three rings and more for further out.
The fire chief was picked up first– Lockmarne for a number of years, Schmidt for a number of years. These men were dedicated and still are. Once a year there was a block dance and bake sale to enable them to earn a little money. The whole town was there dancing in the streets. Hope to Howard Street was blocked off for the dance. Children could not go alone. There was no argument if you wanted to go; mama and dad were with you or you remained at home. Our department, whenever they went to a convention they always won first place.
It wasn’t always peace and harmony but our mayor would have court in a building on Mellon Street on Monday morning. If it was too heavy for him a case to handle, it was turned over to Hampton. Minor cases were taken care of here.
Monta’s store was on Soldiers Home Line; later years Carli moved there. When Benthall moved his store from Howard Street, Monta moved his to Curry Street. John Foster’s store was across from Zion Church on corner of Fox Hill Road and County Street. All stores were closed on Sundays; that was a religious day for everyone. Everyone who could went to church; if no Sunday School you could not go out during the day.
Band concerts on Sundays were held at Old Point and Soldiers Home; in the winter you had the concert inside the theatre. A little rickety streetcar was your mode of transportation but walking wasn’t too bad.
Taxes were paid to Mr. Seymour, if you lived this side of the railroad considered in town; the other side of the railroad was called the Elizabeth City County. You paid him also but less. After Mr. Seymour died, Mr. Nicholetti took over with Mrs. Mary Scott assistant. You could raise cows, hogs, horses. In town you could only raise chickens but if you were lucky you could get someone to raise a hog for you. If not, you were glven some meat by a friend. This time of year, fall, was sharing. It turned cold earlier then. Almost everyone had a garden and fruit trees. The women canned everything they could. Seafood was plentiful; you could stand on Millcreek Bridge and catch fish and crabs or wait at home for the fishman and his truck. The “conk” horn was to let you know he was on his way. He would sell you your fish, wrap them or place them in your dish pan. After he left the ice man would come and of course he would cut a piece of ice the amount you asked for; then he would give you a piece to eat. We always knew the time Mr. Pennick and Mr. Coles would come with the ice, because Mr. Sykes and New by had been with the fish. Later years, Mr. Burge and Worman sold ice from the trucks. Saturday was sort of a holiday. The American theater on Mellon Street housed most of the population, children, you would enter about 1 o’clock and leave in time to get home for your supper at 5 o’clock. Having seen the movies several times; the piano was played by Mrs. Miller. We seemed to have done everything by time; at 7 o’clock in the morning the gun would fire from Old Point; at 8 o’clock Slaughter’s whistle along with Hampton Normal and Industrial whistle, time to report for work. At 9 o’clock your first train, C and 0, would arrive; another train at 11:30 a.m. By Slaughter’s whistle and Hampton Normal and Industrial, 12 o’clock was your lunch time and 1 o’clock return from lunch. At 4 o’clock a train left going any place you wanted to go west. At 5 o’clock the whole town ate supper; Slaughter and Hampton Normal and
Industrial again reminded you of the time. The chimes at Hampton Normal and Industrial at 9 o’clock were heard (bed time). Stores closed at 6 o’clock.
Children came home directly from school almost, although at times a f1ght would occur. If you were 1nvolved and thought you were safe at home, someone would appear before too long at the door to give out the bad news to the parents. The situation was always taken care of. Whippings were always given. There were very few telephones but all news traveled very fast. The older folks would say “It takes everyone to raise a child.”
Whittier School, owned by Hampton Normal and Industrial, provided education for this area replacing the Butler School where young women and men who were graduating did their practice teaching.
Girls learned cooking and sewing and boys woodwork and cabinet making, and bricklaying.
Our doctors were George K. Vanderslice and Oscar Ward Sr. and later Ruppert Lloyd. Dr. Vanderslice would make house calls in his horse and buggy; he never stopped the horse but get out, attend to his patient and return finding his horse grazing not too far from the house. He had married one of Harrison Phoebus’ daughters and lived where Roselind Manor or Strawberry Banks is now. Later he built an office and dwelling on the corner of Williard and Mellen.
The qualities that Mr. Phoebus had rubbed off on Dr. Vanderslice. If you paid him his $1.00 fee alright, if not, alright too. He and the midwives delivered a number of babies at home. Working with him were Mrs. Hester Armstead, midwife, and Mrs. Amanda Baker, his office nurse.
Dr. Ward is and has always been the kind of man he is now – very thoughtful and kind with a slow smile. Manners was one thing that the town excelled; you spoke and smiled to everyone. Of course, everyone knew everyone.
Dr. Lloyd, one of our town’s citizens, gave his talents and work until he passed. Every citizen felt his loss and Dr. Vanderslice’s, as we did whenever there was a loss in the town houses. We were people and were dealt that way. Everyone had the same feeling about each other; respect prevailed.
The oyster shells were beginning to take their wear and tear on the vehicles; of course the horses didn’t mind but the people did. It was fun to watch Tom Winston repair and make horse shoes in his shop on East County Street. This trade went out of style as the horse and carriage did.
If you were ill and did not want to go to your doctor, you could go to Dr. Conydon, druggist on Mellon Street where George’s Record Shop is now. He would find some medicine that would help you. His store was very congested, but he always found the correct medicine for you.
Churches were needed. Rev. Blick was pastor of La Crosse Baptist Church on Chesapeake Avenue, now Mercury, and now his grandson Rev. William Kyle is a m1n1ster 1n the vicin1ty and Rev. Thornton, Graham and later, Marshburn, were pastors of Zion Baptist on County Street. Each minister had the area at heart.
Your houses were heated by coal and wood. When the modern conveniences arrived and if you lived this side of the railroad you were eligible early. The running water and bathrooms were most welcomed.
With the town growing due to the population growing at Fort Monroe, more houses had to be built. A young German architect and carpenter by the name of Hellman wanted to get started. He asked owners on each street if he could build a home to show what he could do. The fathers of daughters who were married and living in small cottages were asked if they wanted to take a chance on him. Of course, but $500.00 for a frame house with 8 rooms and $700.00 for a brick home with 8 rooms was a lot of money and who would lend that much to them and how to pay it back was the question.
The Bank of Phoebus loaned them the money and Mr. Hellman got started. Most of the homes wereput up by him and are here today; some since 1909. Plaster using sand and hair was used, hard wood floors and a small room in case you it would have a bathroom and above all, front porches. You paid the bank $5.00 per month on principle and $1.00 on interest. If you did not have the principle you could pay the interest. If possible, you could pay more on your loan. Of course, the Chamberlin had the highest paid workers. The waiters’ tips were almost as much as the salary. The Shipyard was then paying 50 cents an hour.
With the growing town everything was changing; more politics became involved. Men from different areas were elected and they were to listen to your grievances and did the best they could. The men talked politics on the streets, sitting on round barrels and talked with their families at home. Voting was one of the main subjects; it was hard to vote.
Mr. Tennis and others built a number of homes for rent and later sold, All over. Umbrellas were used by men and women and if broken, were repaired by Mr. Peach on Soldiers Home Line; next to him was Mr. Turness’ real estate office. These buildings were where the laundermat by Mrs. Banks is now.
Mr. Peach had a number of children in his family. One young lady was clerk at our post office; another married Bill Kimpball, radio repairman. And another married Mr. Turneybough and their son is the Phoebus Post Office Postmaster now. Mr. L.M. Brown operated a small printing shop next to the bookstore for a number of years; you could always get what was needed; papers, books, cards of all kinds, pencils and office supplies.
Men’s shoes were kept shining; if they didn’t polish them themselves, you could always have them shined by Charlie King and Purdie who were the best and were on Mallory near County. When the shoes had to be repaired D.D. Askew and Lacey gave excellent work.
In the same block on Mallory there was a laundry, “Charlie Lee.” Men used to have their hard collars stiff and Charlie Lee was the one to do it. His building was next to the corner of County and Mallory where Pearl’s is now.
On the 30th of May you went to the National Cemetery and placed flags on each grave after a ceremony, and a little refreshment was given later.
On the 4th of July you went to Soldiers Home for Fireworks with your father. He took pride in taking you but was glad to get home because the change he had in his pocket had been easily spent on sodas and candy on a stick, etc.
After July you knew the next month was August and the highlight of the season would come to town — Dr. Bennett and his minstrel show with all kinds of medicines and entertainments. You always stopped by F.D. Ferris or Charlie Mater’s for the best roasted peanuts, peanut brittle, coconut candy and ice cream; this climaxed your night out.
Many persons loved water and there being plenty of land on the waterfront it enabled them to erect these houses along the waterfront. This land ran to Buckroe. Although some was government owned; cement reinforcement made the houses safe.
Walking still was the best mode of transportation. While walking through the areas, mostly on Sundays, you got to know who was going to live in the area from those who were already there. In the summer, front porches, which everyone had, were the news centers; after walking you were invited to sit awhile — lemonade was the only liquid served and ice cream, homemade, gave you the boost to go on or stay longer.
Going to the grocery store gave the mothers a chance to see and talk with the neighbors from other parts of the town. The clerks did the hard work as getting articles needed for you from your list. Benthall’s, Doc Collier, Routen, and Saunders served you well under the system. Bread was made by the family at home; the yeast cake headed the list of groceries. Passing the homes on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings the aroma was great.
Eating has been one of the habits at home and away from home. Ruth and Sherrills served the best, soldiers being their best customers.
Barber shops, dry goods, mens’ shops had to be expected. Buck Hopkins owned the building next to Coopers Department Store. Jim Hastings was the owner of the barber shop with the Craig brothers having chairs, also John Scott.
Mr. Shackelford had a furniture store on County Street facing Fulton. Next to him was Isaac Lively’s grocery store featuring large sour pickles and large sticks of peppermint candy.
The train, C and O, had a turn-off track in back of Frissell Street. It ran from Darling Avenue to Soldiers Home. Darling Avenue ran from Clay Street to Williard Avenue, just a narrow short street. At the end of World War I a number of soldiers were moved from Soldiers Home to Ohio. The name was changed to Kecoughtan.
The C and O track was the dividing line of the area but extended to Fort Monroe.
In the spring, boys would have competition in making kites and marble contests
Home building supplies had to be obtained so Mr. Grant built a hardware store on Mellon Street where Sunshine store is now.
Some army officers who could see that this place would grow soon to be larger and better built their homes in the area, then known as Klondike. Then as now, Klondike was just a name given by the developers as they do today. If you had purchased several pieces of land and passed, it was named after you; that’s the reason for the names of Cummings, Taylor, Curry, Darlington Avenue. All were relatives of Frank Darling.
Meister had a tailor shop on Mellon Street where part of Smith’s Florist is today. Mrs. Terry was former owner having flowers and art work for sale. On the corner of Mellon and Curry. Mr. Ackerman had moved his jewelry and watch repair shop next to Snow’s Cycle Shop. The American Theatre, now Lee, and several houses owned by Rivers; a tailor shop with Elijah Harrison owner on the corner of Mellon and Hope; a barber shop downstairs and living quarters upstairs owned by Mr. Henry Clarke comprised that block which was across from the post office.
Ladies wanted and needed hats and custom made dresses so Mrs. Gammon opened a shop on Mellon Street where the laundermat is now.
The main streets, Mellon and Mallory, were to take on a new look by putting concrete streets and sidewalks; at some places bricks were used instead of concrete. The oyster shells were sprayed with tar and gravel on other streets.
A number of Hampton Normal and Industrial graduates, who were trades-men, married and chose Fox Hill Road, Frissell, and County Streets for their lasting homes. Some of the first were F.D. Wheelock, John Wainwright, Walter Baker, John Harris, R. Evans, Robert Coles, William Coles, Frank Banks, Frank Diggs, James N. Clarke, William Gibson, Samuel Bailey. These homes too were in the $500.00 and $700.000 range. Mr Turner had a soda parlor with his various flavors and all sorts of goodies. Like Chris George’s place on Mallory and Mellon it was the school children’s hangout with 25 cents sometimes to spend. Mr. Barnes owned Barnes Street now Fulton from the corner of County to the railroad on one side of the street, left-hand side. Mr. R. Curtis and Hanover Banks owned the other side. On both corners, County Street and Fulton, were upstairs, halls for dancing and on weekends the music flowed with the good times. Lewis Walton and his family lived on County Street near Frissell and their home was called “the half way house” meaning from Fort Monroe to the Walton’s home you were half way to Hampton.
Fred Robinson owned land from Tennis Street to Hope and on the left hand side he too had a hall upstairs for recreation on Hope and County Street. He sold land to Joseph Williams and Frank Knox on Hope Street.
After the war Soldiers Home was changed to Kecoughtan or Veterans Administration giving several men jobs in remodeling the buildings and working on the new building. Men were beginning to receive more money which enabled them to take better care of their families.
Education was a main issue in all families. The $10.00 a week man now could see beyond his nose although he always took care of his family better. Some girls were interested in nursing and a number finished in three years. Hampton Institute having Dixie Hospital nearby made it easy for the young women who wanted to attend. Some who finished were Miranda Gee, Mary Neal, Maggie Harris, Helena Wainwright, Auzelia Kirkpatrick, Cordora Bailey, Louise Stephens and others.
Sgt. Wynne’s, from Old Point, wife was one of the first Metropolitan nurses visiting the sick who belonged to the insurance; later the visiting nurses association was formed.
Automobiles began to appear; the streets with tar and gravel were beginning to get together. You could hear them when they turned the corner, and when they stopped and had to be cranked, so it could start, it was interesting. The horns were very loud; as we saw them and heard them we became used to them.
In October, Hampton Normal and Industrial who owned property next to Zion Church, grew all kinds of vegetables and when they had harvested all the vegetables they wanted for the school, the town could get as much as they wanted. Everyone went and if a song was started, everyone sang; the music sounded so good you felt like stopping to listen. This project was one you could count on every year. No money was exchanged.
Guy Mugler thought that everyone should vote and he saw to it. You had to pay two years of poll taxes and then registered. We found out that the vote was what counted. We never thought that we would be deceived because our people were honest. When th1ngs were go1ng well, we were happy.
Mellon Street had begun to change, not the structures, only the fronts changed. Frank Carmel and his wife purchased a hotel on South Mallory and Williams Street; his brother operated a small grocery store across from him.
There were two sets of Mingees being brothers, one set on Hope Street, the other on Old Buckroe Road. Paul is now employed by the City of Hampton. His father was yard master at the C and O Railroad. One of his sons, Edgar, retired from the C and O before he passed.
Finishing Phoebus School was not enough education so you went to Hampton High and it was up to the individual what he or she wanted to do. You either went further because you wanted to change from your father’s occupation or to be elevated; but you knew you had to work.
Names of schools like University of Virginia, William and Mary, and Howard University and others began to appear.
Hampton High gave a good foundation so when you applied to another school you were always accepted. At first, Hampton High gave you a certificate and you could teach for a number of years. If you wanted to you could go to further your education in the summer and after 4 years of college you received a B.A. or B.S. degree.
Old Point College, a Catholic School for young men, was where the Retreat is now.
When Dr. Ward built his home, where it is now, it seemed as if it were in another part of the world. Before too long the other houses followed; Judge Sweeney’s property was a little this side of Dr. Ward. He gave land for the Shelton Home.
With more money, increasing population, and industry, L.M. Newcomb, seafood merchant at the beginning of Millcreek Bridge, and real estate man, etc. with Dr. Vanderslice started the Old Point National Bank. Newcomb was the first President.
Mr. Shacelford moved his furniture store from County Street to Mellon where Martels is now. T.A. Fountain and William Keffie, Hampton Institute’s cabinet maker graduates, were available making and refinishing furniture. “Roses” store was erected next to Mr. Shacelford.
Houses needed repairs. Mr. Edwards and Lewis Sulzberger did your repairs. You could always find someone to do the carpentry work although a number of men could do their own work.
John Mittlemeir was one of our councilmen; having been raised in Phoebus, he knew our likes and dislikes and was Vice Mayor when the town was consolidated.
The Mayors Kearney, Snow, and Taylor were the ones we knew best and were never too busy to talk with you. Streets were the first on the agenda. We had curfew; every young person had to be off the streets by 8:45 p.m.
When a representative visited the homeowners giving them the facts about the streets and sidewalks, he gave you time to think it over. If you wanted paved sidewalks, you paid one-half of the amount and the town paid the other one-half. If one person decided not to pay the sidewalk on the street it was not placed. You could pay in full as soon as the work was done or you could acquire a loan from the bank, paying a sum each month. Some who had rental property did not sign. This meant no more ditches; it wasn’t too long before the streets were asphalt with curbing.
The streets were cleaned everyday. Every April was the month of “Clean Up” “PaintUp” and “Fix Up.” Special trucks were available for the moving of the trash and paper at no extra cost.
Flowers have always been a conversation with housewives; beautiful roses, crepe myrtle, lilacs and magnolias were always being exchanged.
Some of the soldiers who moved their families to Phoebus gave us Leonard (Skinny) Pierce and his sister, Mrs. Laura Twyford, principal of Mason Cooper School.
Many changes have taken place. Mercury Boulevard replaced Darlington Avenue thus having a second bridge to Fort Monroe. It was the beginning of houses being built for $1,OOO.OO per room and up.
The Bank of Phoebus changed its name; St. Mary’s School is on Williard and Mellon; Smith’s Florist, Clean and Pressing Shop, E.L. Clarke’s Men’s Clothing Store, Kearney’s Drug Store, Bloxom’s Food and Wholesale Shop, Flamait Confectionary Store, Taxis Stand moving from Mellon to Mallory where Lakites’ Drug Store; Martel’s Furniture Store, John Downing’s, Leacy’s Shoe Repair Shop, Cutler’s Jewelry Store replaced by Richardson’s tax office; Pete’s Restaurant, A.B.C. Store, Benthall’s Grocery Store, Mugler’s Men’s Clothing Store, Bender’s Book and Gift Shop, Saunders now Big S, Levin’s Ladies Shop were the second generation gift to everyone.
These buildings are still here. Little did Charlie Mater, Frank Carmel, F.D. Ferris, Phil Fuller Sr., E.M. Tennis, the Kearney’s both sets, I.A. Saunders, think that the foundation laid by them would survive. The new has to replace the old. When our doctors died they have been replaced by such as Oscar Ward Jr., Sterling Lloyd, George Stephens, William Kearney, Lawrence Young, John Downing Jr., and George Evans.
Chris Kraft with NASA made this town just as proud as the Kraft family was.
When Iantha Davenport and Katherine Lawrence began their jobs at Fort Monroe they never thought of retiring but lately have.
The town was happy to have an Army Chaplain in Osborne Scott, a product of Zion Church and Rev. Marshburn.
Catherine Conogo was clerk in Clerk of Courts Office working under H.H. Holt Sr. for a number of years.
Progress was in the minds of the older ones at all times, and if it hadn’t been the confidence in everyone, the place would look as it did when it first started. Mr. Phoebus left too many good reasons why there should be Phoebus.
Every profession has come out of Phoebus. Your dressmakers were Rosa Knox, Rose Brown and Fannie Dyke.
Mrs. Hattie Richardson gave you catering service.
Contractor was W.G. Stephens. Carpenters were U.G. Scott and Herbert Matthews. Teachers give us a very, very large number; some were Fedora Banks, Cecilia Banks, Ollie and Julia Richmond, Margaret Treherne McCoy, Lillian Carter Williams, George Clarke, Charlotte Clarke Bizzell, William Coles, Waldo and Robert Coles, Grace Stewart Jenkins, Mary, Ida, Angeline and Gladys Stewart, William Gibson, Janie Mann Whiting, Grace Mann Womack, Walter, Francis, Elmer and Leslie Baker, Lucy Brokenburr Holland, Phillis Holland, Lucy Barrow, Armstead and Knox Tull, Anne Clarke Snow, her sister and Miriam Carmel, Thelma Brown Murray. Hampton Institute played a great part in their receiving the B.A., B.S., and M.A. degrees.
Dentists were Leonard and Archie Banks, sons of F.D. Banks, who was one of the founders of People Building and Loan Association in Hampton.
Lawyers: Frank Kearney, Percy Carmel, Macy Carmel, Ross Kearney, James Lawrence, Joseph M. Levin, Stuart and Burt Saunders.
Judges: Frank Kearney, Macy Carmel, and Robert Brakenburn.
Bankers: Richard Ruth and Phillip Fuller Jr.
Secretaries: Elizabeth Clarke Stevenson, Charlotte Keffie Tull, Gladys Keffie.
Dormitory (Hampton Institute and Howard) Directors: Blanche Robinson, Inez Knox, and Julia A. Lassiter, Jessie Wainwright.
Postmen: Tom Mann, Alex Mann, Mansfield Boykins, (Jit) Mann, Milton Anthony, Robert Jackson, and Lawrence Wilkerson.
Tailor: Raymond Anthony.
Segregation and intergration were two words that were heard in later years. In this area you were all treated alike; if there was a back door to enter it was only to put out the trash. When riding on the streetcar you had been told where to sit as a child but you went by the information “Fill up from the rear”. At times the “rear” went to the front of the car. The driver didn’t seem to mind. We could tell when people were not from this area because they could not hide their feelings and words; it never dampened our spirits.
In 1952, much to the disappointment of a number of people, we became a borough of Hampton. We have learned a great number of things since its consolidation. Maybe Phoebus was growing too small although it had extended almost to Buckroe. Houses were built by the newer contractors; the prices of everything went up.
When R.R. Moton School was built, a number of things were in consideration. First, the land had to be large enough for its expansion if needed. Second, the school had to be where the largest number of children lived; where it is now, was the only land to be found although it has been enlarged.
Challengers in Phoebus have been met and conquered. Not as much honesty or manners is here now but the Phoebus name is a name we are proud of.