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“Mud Pies and Mint Juleps…Memories of Uncle Alex’s House”

I might be showing my age but who of us growing up before cell phones, video games and social media doesn’t remember making mud pies!

Nita Little was one of the first people I met when I came to Blacksburg. Her joy was infectious and when she talked about her memories of visiting her “Great Uncle Alex’s house”, her eyes shown like she was a child again. Her stories take us all back to a simpler time… she was the great niece of Alexander Black and wrote some of her memories for us to share at the Alexander Black House. Here are a few of my favorites!

Many of my memories during the late 1920's and early 1930's revolve around the everyday living in this house. Even though my immediate family did not live here, we spent much time with our Great Uncle Alex, our Grandmother Lizzie and our Aunt Mary Apperson. Each time I have returned to the house, it has been a time of coming home to me… The yard was a child's delight. With space to run and play and a stream in which to wade, find crayfish, rocks and mud for making mud pies. A beautiful willow tree grew by the stream. Walking and sitting on the stone wall, which ran the width of the yard and on along the front of the cow pasture were pastimes enjoyed by all of us and by other children and grownups as well. Often, on Sunday afternoons the VPI Cadets walked by and sat on the wall both in front of the house and on along the cow pasture. I have a vivid memory of selling a mud pie to a cadet (he had bright blue eyes) for a stick of chewing gum.”

Not only do her stories tell of what it was like to be a child in those days but there are many important glimpses into the history of our town as she talks about the stone wall in front of the house where cadets walked by, the stream and the cow pasture….sites most of us can’t imagine being on Main Street where the house originally stood.

Images she writes about of the grand old Queen Anne, Victorian house include hiding behind the staircase (where she would “pop balloons” and in the attic where “treasures” could be found! She also gives us glimpses of personalities of the family including the very social “Alex” Black and his infamous Mint Juleps, “When Uncle Alex's friends came to visit (namely Dean Williams, C.P. (Sally) Miles, and Uncle Jim Otey) they sat on the porch and discussed the issues of the day while enjoying Mint Juleps made and served by Louise.”

Written diaries, memories and letters are always my favorite reads as they give the most intimate accounts of everyday life…whatever the time period.

I imagine there are many who are doing this kind of writing today as we navigate through our new way of living during social distancing. In the future, I hope as our grandchildren read them, they will get a glimpse into our thoughts and hearts during this time and find the creativity and resiliency of community through the writings of those who lived during it.

For the complete, “Memories of Nita Little”

- Written by Rhonda Morgan


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