Local Lifestyle

Vivian Graham shares many area memories from decades past

by Kate Evans

Vivian Graham, age 92, shared memories of Berkeley Springs and Hancock from the bygone days.

Berkeley Springs resident Vivian (Yeakle) Graham just turned 92 years old and has fond memories she shared of both Hancock and Berkeley Springs from over the decades.

Graham was born in Little Cove, Pennsylvania at Yeakle’s Mill, which is around 20 miles east of Hancock. Graham was raised in Hancock and attended Hancock Elementary and Hancock High School. She moved to Berkeley Springs when she got married.

Graham worked at People’s National Bank in Hancock and ran a machine that listed every check and deposit. Then she worked at Potomac Edison Company in Berkeley Springs where she wrote orders for the repair department. Graham also worked some for Don Clark in Clark’s appliance store, which was located by City Bank in Berkeley Springs then.

Vivian (Yeakle) Graham was born at Yeakle’s Mill in Little Cove, Pennsylvania, which is portrayed in this painting she owns. Yeakle’s Mill is around 20 miles east of Hancock.

Growing up

Graham said she had to walk to school at Hancock Elementary and Hancock High School. There were no school snow days then. School was still on even if it was snow and ice. Kids that lived in the east end of Hancock by Park and Dine had to walk to school too, which was quite a hike.

Graham said she grew up in Washington County 4-H. She sewed, had a Victory Garden and canned green beans and tomatoes, froze peppers and raised flowers. Graham also planted potatoes. One year she planted one bushel of potatoes and got 17 bushels of potatoes back. In 1947 Graham won a trip to the national 4-H convention in Chicago for all of her 4-H projects.

Her dad liked to eat out at nice restaurants like the Monterey House and Sagel’s Restaurant, where Buddy- Lou’s is now. Both restaurants were white tablecloth and the waitresses wore starched white dresses.

“It was first class to me,” she said.

Graham recalled when the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened, her dad drove them to Pittsburgh and they came straight back.

Their family went to church every Sunday. The churches in Hancock had a joint picnic at Cacapon State Park. Her dad put benches in his truck to haul people to the picnic.

Graham married Lenwood “Buddy” Graham, who was a mail carrier on the streets of Berkeley Springs from 1947- 1971. In 1971, her husband began doing mail on the rural routes, Graham said. Fairview Drive and Highland Ridge were two of his main routes.

Graham said she met Lenwood at the carnival in Hancock after he came home from service in the Navy. Hancock had a carnival back then in the empty lot across from Weaver’s Restaurant.

Vivian Graham, her husband Lenwood “Buddy” Graham and their son Kevin Graham are seen in this family portrait.

Berkeley Springs

Graham said she has an old book that lists everyone that lived in Berkeley Springs and their address. Another book lists all the businesses in Berkeley Springs, but none of those businesses are here anymore, she noted. The business book was the Directory of Berkeley Springs, Morgan County, West Virginia and was compiled by the Junior Women’s Club in 1949.

Some of the Berkeley Springs stores then included Tinks’ Grocery, which was located where the school board office is now, and Davison and Weber Grocery, which was where the Community Food Market is located.

There was also Berkeley Club, George Fearnow’s coal and pulpwood store on Congress Street, Gorrell and Gorrell on West Fairfax Street, which sold dry goods, school supplies, notions, wallpaper, paint and furniture, and many grocery stores.


Graham recalled going to the Morgan County Fair and Cacapon State Park a lot and also to the Fish Hatchery.

Her husband took her on a drive through the country of his rural mail routes twice a year-once in the spring and once in the fall, she said.

Graham’s best friends were Gloria Sagel and Estelle (Ditto) Conn, who are both deceased. They went to the movies, carnivals and the parks together. Graham said she could go once a week to the movies. It cost 10 cents a movie.

Hotel fire

Graham remembered the Hotel Washington Fire that occurred in August, 1974. The Grahams lived on Laurel A venue then. Buddy noticed the smoke and said the town must be on fire. Twelve people died in the blaze, which spread to nearby shops.

Lawyer’s Jewelry, Allen’s Insurance Company, Ayer’s Grocery, Hovermale’s Restaurant and Hovermale’s Dress Shop were gone after the fire, Graham said. She still has a dress in her cedar closet that came from Hovermale’ s Dress Shop.

Other memories

Graham said that the area had a lot of tomato canneries back then. The Tomato Festival was the big event in the fall during the late 1930s and early 1940s when the tomtoes ripened. It featured a big parade. Her husband rode in the parade with his goat and cart.

Graham recalled the trains running and Ira Unger putting the mail up on the hook at Brosius Station on the Hancock, West Virginia side. From the train they grabbed the mail from the hook as the train flew by.

At Christmastime, the Grahams always got picture postcards of the Park View Inn from Betty Lou Harmison, who was on Buddy’s mail route. A Yost boy built replicas of many of the town’ s houses that were placed in the Park View Inn gardens at Christmas, she said.

Graham remembered when the Berkeley Springs State Park swimming pool was a covered indoor pool. The men would swim on one end and the women would swim on the other end.

Back then you could go up to Lover’ s Leap and look across at the Maryland side, but they closed it, Graham said.

Graham recalled going ice skating, rollerskating and sledding when she was young. Her dad took them to a little pool to ice skate. Graham’ s sled is still in her attic along with her roller skates and ice skates.