Updated May 31, 2010.
Bessie Waterman interviewed by Donna Waterman. Published in the Currituck High School Currituck Sounder. Spring 1984 edition.
Mrs. Bessie Waterman, my grandmother and life long resident of Knotts Island, has been a source of interest and knowledge for many years. She can be best remembered for sharing these stories with others. This chapter in her life is quite amazing and very interesting. Most of all, they involve the true conflicts of her life. When I asked "Grandma” to share her story she was pleased, and she eagerly began her tales.
Evenings today many are found off in the city or riding in a car, but for a young girl growing up in the early 1900's things were very much different. We'd sit up in a chair beside the house and listen to the grown people talk. We didn't have any entertainment in our young days. In my teenage years we'd go listen to preaching and singing. When I was a teenager a couple of years before I was married, we'd stay once and awhile with our girl friends.
Donna - Today we think of a car as a necessity, but if we had lived one hundred years ago, a car would have only been a dream. "Grandma” speaks of how they made it without an automobile all of those years:
In the young days we walked everywhere. We didn't have any other way. Our parents had what they called a carriage. They rolled the children in it. It would hold two children, and the other three of us would walk to the Baptist Church.
We had no other way to get off the Island then, only a boat. We had to go from the south end of the Island to Norfolk by boat. I'll never forget my sister, Sallie, the first time she saw an automobile. It was owned by a Doctor who came on the Island to take care of the people on the Island. It scared her so bad she jumped a fence.
Donna - During the depression "Grandma" and many of the people on the Island didn't fair too good financially. During the hunting season when the clubs were open for hunters many of the Islanders were employed by one of the clubs: Currituck Club and Swan Island.
Bessie - We went to my daddy's at Swan Island, and Sam, your granddaddy, worked for Papa and at the end of the week Papa would say, 'How much do I owe you?' He'd say, 'Give me five dollars.' Just enough to get us something to eat through the weekend. My husband Sam would work on boats, feed hogs, cattle, and such as that on Swan Island. He'd also carve ducks and sold 'em for two or three dollars a piece. After the depression things slowly picked up financially.
Donna - During World War II her oldest son, Bernis, was aboard the USS Barnette during the Invasion of Normandy, Okinawa, and Guadalcanal. During the Korean War her other son,Maurice who is my father, was fighting for his country as a rocket gunner.
Bessie - I'd lay and cry part of the time at night. I expected to hear of them being killed.
Donna - Since childhood "Grandma" has noticed changes in the community. The most prominent are:
Bessie - I'd like to see the young people going to church more. We had to go to church. Most of all I'd like to see the families closer together. Over the past few years they-have fallen apart.
My grandmother often shares these stories with her friends, and
interviewing her I felt much different about the historical events in
the county and in the world. I could feel a sense of closeness that
came between us as she shared her stories with me. I shall always
treasure both the stories and her sharing them with me.