Remembering Roemerville by Jasmine Gordon

Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 19 Dec 13 - 0 Comments

Roemerville School - Top row: Pearl Wilburn, Violet Williams, Lee Ella Wilburn, Raymon Watson, Alpha Lee Scott, Farton Queen, Lone Fuller, Beatrice Scott; Fern Williams, Pearl Scott, Opal Scott, Mrs. Bieman, Clinton Williams, Lois Helms, Dorothy Helms and Katherine Helms; 3rd row: Stoney Matson, Alba Helms, Queen, Billy While, Arthur Wilburn


As I followed Dorothy’s directions down the winding road I was eager to see her again. It seemed like yesterday since I’d met her at the library in Seadrift to talk about one of Seadrift’s first publications, Seadrift Success. In actuality, it had been about two years! Following last month’s article where I inquired about Roemerville; she had called and suggested I meet with her and Joyce Raby as they both  were born in Roemerville. So there I was, headed to Dorothy’s house which is just outside of Seadrift.

Before I knew it, two hours had gone by! I learned a lot about the families that made up Roemerville in the early 30s.
Dorothy Geraldine Williams Wilson was born on November 29, 1929 on the Oscar Roemer Farm. Joyce Helms Raby was born in Roemerville on June 18th, 1929.

Dorothy remembers her brother, J.D Williams who was six years older than she, attended school in Roemerville. She didn’t, as her family moved to Seadrift where her father became the city’s milk cow herder. Joyce remembers attending school in both Roemerville and Seadrift. Her family moved back and forth for several years to the small farming community. Both of their dads, Bill Helms and Dave Williams, worked as tenant farmers in Roemerville. They met in second grade when Joyce’s family moved to Seadrift.

Joyce’s teacher was Charlotte Roemer. She remembers Charlotte would bring the kids food as it was during the depression and the families didn’t have much.

Joyce is one of eleven siblings; Cecil, Gene, Bobby, Don, Patsy, Carnell, Billy Jo, Dale, Alice Fern and Johnny. They had only the basics like flour and coffee; it was a luxury when the girls had peanut butter or syrup on a biscuit. Cabbage heads were five cents. Dorothy remembers how much she loved the color of beets. “I daydreamed all the time,” she said. “I would daydream that I had a dress that color.”

As they spent the afternoon reminiscing, they told me about other families who also lived in Roemerville. Oscar and Bell Roemer, Emma and Scrapp Helms, Leo Blevins, the Watsons, the Marlows, Virginia Gaines and a handful of others. Joyce now lives in Port O’Connor with husband, Owen Dan who she married in December of 1945.

Then Joyce started singing a song her father would sing to her.

“Rye whiskey rye whiskey
Rye whiskey I cry
If you don’t give me rye whiskey
I surely will die

If the ocean was whiskey
And I was a duck
I’d dive to the bottom
And never come up”

I laughed as they sang various songs from their childhood. “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain,” they sang in unison.

Thanks to both ladies for bringing me one step closer to Roemerville. I greatly enjoyed spending the afternoon chatting, laughing and singing.

from Joyce Raby’s family album: Uncle Jim Weaver, Duff Weaver, Alfie Lee Scott, Bill Helms, Alby Helms, Buck Helms and George Weaver

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