Changes in Virginia

Program Information

Program: Witness to a Century
Segment Number: 13 (Watch entire program)
Duration: 00:06:43
Year Produced: 2008
Description:

America has gone through profound social, economic and technological changes over the last hundred years and life in Virginia has reflected those changes in every way. It’s hard to imagine what our world would be like without the amazing technologies we often take for granted, and the many historical advances that have been made.

The Roaring Twenties. Prohibition. The Great Depression. World Wars. The explosive growth of technology. Testimony from Virginia’s centenarians is used to create WCVE PBS’ one-hour documentary, “Witness to a Century.” WCVE PBS and the Virginia Historical Society have collaborated on this look back at the enormous changes that took place in Virginia in the twentieth century through the eyes of those that lived through them.

For more information visit: http://www.ideastations.org/witness/index.html

Transcript

America has gone through profound social, economic and technological changes over the last hundred years and life in Virginia has reflected those changes in every way. It’s hard to imagine what our world would be like without the amazing technologies we often take for granted, and the many historical advances that have been made.

Yates

The first television I ever saw, I didn’t believe in them. Ford Motor Company had a meeting in New Jersey, up across from New York. Man, I went up there and we stopped at a bar up in Jersey, and they had a little round television, about that big, over the top of this counter while we get a drink. We saw that little television. Man, that was something. Right after that, they picked up here in Virginia.

Dandridge

Camera, yeah. People used to have cameras long time ago. We thought that was something that you can fix it and then make a picture of yourself or something. And they were little boxy things then. It’s nothing like these things they got now. Everybody got them thing doing this and that, .... But then there’s a little box, and you have to put your film in the back end of it, close it back up, and then view in your little peephole in the top. But yeah, the little picture [wasn’t] worth much but it– didn’t look like much but at least it was a start.

Carter

I can do a little bit- with the computer you know. I went to Union– I was the oldest student up there. I’d audited a class in computer education. I bought myself a laptop, because see, I’m making pictures. I’ve made over 1800 pictures. Well I printed'em on my new printer. And so that was fascinating to me. So I’m going to get busy now and get over to that laptop, and get that. But I don’t like the ..... move with your fingers. I want to get– use a mouse. [laugh]

Dandridge

Back in the 40's those were the good years. ....Like my little town in Martinsville. we had a company, Fieldcrest made towels and sheets. Danville made yard goods, material, things like that. The company right there near Danville made automobile tires, and they– a lot of people worked there. Then DuPont came, and they’s making all that stuff at DuPont. Now all of that has gone somewhere else. And now it’s nothing in Martinsville for the people to do. I would like to see small towns back. It’d be-be better for the people. Everybody will know everybody, everybody have a job, and everybody can work together.

Fisher

I’m not certain there’s more happiness today than there was then. There are more conveniences, more luxuries, but I’m not certain these have brought more happiness.

So the 20th century is a big century, a big century of change, and the first century to have benefited by a great deal of research. Computers, for one. Television. To think you can sit in your living room and watch the war in Iraq, or to watch the Olympic games , these are great. Living is easier. Want water, turn the spigot; you don’t have to look for a spring somewhere. You want electricity, you turn it on. There are advances in agriculture that are major. These are some of the big advances. Some of the developments give us a better life. I would like to come back in 50 years and see what has been done. Oh, I expect to, of course. [laugh]

Sydnor

These remarkable individuals and their stories demonstrate the wide range of experiences of twentieth-century Virginia. Their wisdom and humor helped them survive an era in which much about this state and nation has changed. Mostly it has been for the better. But as our centenarians remind us, the process of change has been uneven and sometimes painful. As witnesses to the century, their testimony also reminds us that, in the end, it is in the lives of people that we can see how the past links us all.