Marshall Courts
Newport News, VA 23607

March 15, 1941 Easter Sunday, 1956
870-A 35th Street
 Winter, 1956
870-A 35th Street
878-A 36th Street
Courtesy of Bill Campbell ('54) of VA - 12/10/05
WOWZERONI!  Thanks, Bill!
Courtesy of Jennie Sheppard ('62) of NC - 03/07/05
 Thanks, Jennie!
    Here is a photo of the Recreation Center
for Marshall Courts, which
was also used
by Seven Oaks residents
for various activities.
    Thursday, April 21, 2005
Image by Joe Madagan ('57) of FL
    - Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/14/05
Thanks, Joe!

I thought you might like some pictures of Marshall Courts. I noticed there is a category for these
apartments on your website. We lived there when I attended Walter Reed Elementary and Newport
News High School.
If memory serves me correctly - the picture with the snowman was taken at 870-A 35th Street, where
the bedrooms were upstairs. Also the picture taken on Easter Sunday, 1956 (when I was 12 yrs old)
was taken there (at the back door). Not a very nice backdrop - we should have taken it in front of the
house where the snowman was later that year. Then we moved to 878-A 36th Street to a duplex (my
mother could no longer navigate the stairs due to arthritis). That is where we lived when I graduated
in 1962. Hope you enjoy the pictures. 

- Jennie Sheppard ('62) of NC
Jennifer Sheppard, Cert. Genealogist, Brigham Young University)
- 03/08/05
Thanks, Jennie!

The three photos shared by Jennie Sheppard ('62) of NC and the memories of Jim Hines ('64) of Northern VA -
03/20/05 flashed back memories of the Marshall Courts Community Center located on Marshall Avenue at the
intersection of 33rd Street in Newport News, VA. This building was used by Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and many civic
groups as a primary meeting place. It was spacious and large enough for ceremonies, with a stage and lighting, as well
as many meeting rooms. By recalling the Marshall Courts Community Center I am almost certain that you will find
many others who subscribe to the Newsletter to give you memories of the place.

In 1949 WGH Station Manager, Albert Dail was also the Cub Master of a Pack of cub scouts that met at this location.
Some of the Boy Scouts were attending NNHS and among them were many leaders, musicians, artist, and athletes, some
of whom became school teachers at NNHS. Donald Harvey, and many others.

The cub scout pack had members that went on to be NFL standouts, like Norman Snead. I remember Billy Forminchelli
(his father was the Warwick Farmers Football Coach), Frank Ferguson ('57) Famous Airman, Fred Hayman ('57) of VA,
Tommy Cash, Bucky Hart, and many others who went on to become Boy Scouts that met at this location, I think it was
BSA Troop 12. This was a good time, just after World War II and just before the Korean War.

December 1949
Bucky Madagan

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 03/22/05
Oh, Joe!  How precious!  Thanks so much!


     Reading what Judy (Phillips Allen - '66 - of VA) and Tom (Flax - '64 - of VA) said got me to thinking
about living and growing up in 7 Oaks and Marshall Courts. My family lived in 7 Oaks until just before my 
junior year, and Bob's 
('66) freshman year at NNHS. So we basically grew up there. 
In a somewhat random manner...  
Well, if memory serves me correctly, Flax's Grocery was on 36th and Wickham Avenue, across from the
last 7 Oaks apartments on that end, and West's Grocery was on Madison Avenue between 35th and 36th
across from Marshall Courts. My family shopped at West's because it was closer. I remember being in Mr.
Flax's store, and he was really nice to us, though as a dad (I realize now), he was concerned about us guys
goin' 'splorin in the old abandoned slaughter pens nearby. Tom & Dave, I hope we were not too mischievous
to your Dad! There was also Mr. Stein's drug store on 35th and Madison Avenue, where we could get
snowcones and comic books, and that great cherry coke. We were always worried about hitting one of his
windows, which faced 35th Street and the ball field between 34th and 35th, where we played baseball alot.
There were different fields/approaches there, depending upon which way you batted...if you took the short
field, and batted toward Madison Avenue, everyone had to switch hit to lessen the chances of breaking a
window across the street...even with that handicap, there was the occasional window broken, or a car dented
by a foul ball behind us. As I remember, most of us 'fessed up and paid for our damages. We never hit
Mr. Stein's window, but a few balls bounced up against it from the road, and scared us silly. We were sure
that kind of window would cost a fortune, and nobody had a fortune! It's amazing we didn't do more damage,
'cuz there was no backstop anywhere! And there was Mr. Spivey's Barber Shop, where I first saw the sign...

"If you leave the shop, you lose your place."
What a concept! From 35th Street to 36th, all in the same
building (we call it a strip today), it was Mr. Stein's drug store, West's Grocery, Mr. Spivey's Barber Shop, and
then a shop that sold and serviced pinball machines, which is still in business today somewhere in Tidewater.      

We'd go in West's Grocery and buy baseball cards (as well as groceries, of course), sometimes spending all our
spare change in the hopes of getting the card of a particular player. Even though one day I was not thrilled
getting a bunch of Irv Noren cards (no disrespect intended, Irv!), over time we developed a decent collection
of the current cards. Boy! Do I wish I'd known to hold on them!!! Who'dathunkit!?

     When the 16 oz. Pepsi first came out, sometimes we'd opt for that, especially after playing baseball for several
hours on a hot day. The West's were really nice and wonderful people who, as Mr. Flax did I am sure, helped
people when they were short on funds due to illness or whatever, by extending credit. Of course that went
away for most people when the chain stores entered the picture. Fuzzy (Louis) Turner ('63) delivered
groceries for them. Even though we were customers, I always felt the West's were family friends. The last
time I saw Mrs. West was in Crum's Bakery, at the Warwick Center location, which was owned by cousins
of ours, Kenny Crum and his wife. My dad made sure we visited the bakery every so often when we were
out, just to say hello. Recently, I was in a 7/11 on Fox Hill Road, and having struck up a conversation with the
clerk, we somehow got on the subject of Crum's Bakery, and the clerk told me she remembered that they'd had
the best cakes-especially wedding cakes. We both lamented the fact that the children didn't want to take over
the shop, and that it was sold out of the family. DARN! I didn't know it at the time, but evidently Crum's Bakery
was quite well known and respected. Another family cousin, Lloyd Harper, owned the Stadium Esso Service
Center on Pembroke Avenue. It was next to War Memorial Stadium, where we got to see the 'Baby
Dodgers' and a number of baseball players who made it to the big leagues. We even saw Chuck Connors play
there, who went into TV and starred in The Rifleman series. I remember encountering one Garland Hudson
('65 - of FL) and his 390 Ford on Pembroke Avenue the first or second day I had my license, and I was driving
a '58 Chevy with a 348 that would do better than keep up. We both escaped that situation. Ummmmm...enough
on did we all ever survive?

     Judy, you mentioned Walter, and yes, we looked forward to seeing this really nice man. He'd always have a
kind word for us kids, and would walk the alleys at night in 7 Oaks and Marshall Courts (the front doors of the
apartments all face in to the courtyards), pushing a cart with an oil lantern for light, and had good stuff that kids
liked, as well as bread, etc. I remember the candy apples, and Bob remembers liking the donuts.

     All the games you mentioned kept us busy sometimes even after dark, during the summertime especially. And
marbles would become tense, especially if you were in danger of losing one you really liked. The rules that
evolved were critical, too, especially the one about not being able to shoot with a steelie! Everyone had their
favorite shooter... sometimes it was a cat's eye, and sometimes it was a tinted one that was just plain blue or red,
etc. You didn't want to break a good shooter or lose it! There was a good spot to play under the big tree in the
court where the Morgan's, Gills', Duncan's, etc., lived.

     When we wanted to make some money, we'd borrow the wooden ladder from Leroy, another nice guy, who
worked maintenance for 7 Oaks, and take Bon Ami and wash the outside windows for people who wanted that
service. With today's rigid and rated aluminum ladders now available, no one would set foot on what we climbed.
We just thought it was fun that the ladder bent and swayed! There was no thought about falling.

     Sometimes the adults in our court would play games in the courtyard and involve us kids during the summer.
You are right, Judy...people looked out for each other, especially when illness was involved, and there was many
a conversation held on the front porches in the evenings, which would allow a break from the heat (no AC back
then!)  especially during the summer, as Bob reminded me. I remember when Mom was ill at one time, and Dad's
work schedule at the shipyard made it difficult for him to get two little boys ready for school, a nice lady - Mrs.
Ruhland or Mrs. Woolard, I think, or maybe both - who lived across the court from our apartment got me
and Bob ready for school, and gave us breakfast! Where do people learn to be kind and helpful to others? The
answer is obvious, I think. I don't think any of us really knows to whom we owe much, but must realize that we
didn't escape being a teenager on our own.

     Beyond that, it was against the rules in 7 Oaks to throw any kind of ball, because of the danger of breaking a
window, though kickball games would be allowed in the court during the summer evenings, and even the adults
 got in on those games. I had to face the music once and go see Mrs. Windley, the landlady (Rental Agent),
 in the Rental Office in the next court (the court with the big tree mentioned above) to work out how I would pay
for a window I broke with a baseball. This was particularly embarrassing to me, as we lived next door to the
Windley's. Well, all turned ok. The Windley's were good neighbors and nice people. Their sons Jack and Gene
were involved in NN athletics. Gene pitched and Jack later refereed high school football.

     Other names of people who lived in 7 Oaks and Marshall Courts, besides the people mentioned by Judy...
Shirley and Gene ('60) Gill...Billie Jo, ('63) Kitty ('64), Alvin, and Dabney Gills...Bobby, Ruby ('60), Ronnie ('65),
and Willie Phillips...Larry Ruhland...Lynn Wright ('63) ...Frank and Billy Mills...Mack ('61) and
Diane ('65) Hill...Arnold Hall...Darrell (Red) and Rick ('65) Billings ...Charlie ('64) and Marie
('66) Snead... Cham McConnell...Susie and Stan Eury...Dottie Pegram...Peggy Dail ('59) ...Mickey
Spivey ('65) ... Gracie Woolard ('61) ...Grayson Blount ('62) ...Diana and DeeDee Merrill...Steve

    Well, that's a bunch! All I know is I am grateful for having lived where I lived and for having known the people
I have known.

Thanks, Jimmy

- Jimmy Hines ('64) of Northern VA - 09/28/05

   WOWZERS!!!  Thank you, Jimmy!  What a great trip down Memory Lane!!!

I grew up in both Marshall Courts and also Seven Oaks. I have a small correction to the kids that grew
up there. Mary Ann Seaborn and her brother Tommy Seaborn ('66) are my cousins and they didn't live
there. However, our other cousins, Brenda and Clinton Kennedy, did live in Marshall Courts. My brother,
Robert Slusser, also a NNHS Graduate ('61) was the local newspaper boy for a while for both Marshall
Courts and Seven Oaks. I well remember hours spent at the Rec. Center and Stein's and West Grocery
and the other Grocery at the other end of the projects near Huntington High School (Before the 60's it may
have been named Pittman's). There was a Dairy on Jefferson Avenue, and we would walk up there to get
milk shakes and ice cream in the evening. We had to walk through a black neighborhood to get there, but
everyone respected everyone. We also walked through the black neighborhoods to get to the Swimming
and Rec. Center and there was a Frozen Custard Shop on the corner that served the best soft Lemon
Custard Ice Cream cones; we would get one after a afternoon of swimming for the long walk back home.

We also walked to the Hygeia Skating Rink and to Stuart Gardens Shopping Center where we got the best
Limeade at the Soda Shop there. The railroad tracks separated Seven Oaks and the back of the businesses
on 39th Street. Some of the business were Pompeii Tile Shop and Centralite Lighting Supply, and much
later the Be-Lo Grocery Store. We would pick the wild blackberries and raspberries when they were in season,
they grew all along the railroad tracks banks. Some of the other kids were Shirley Jean Caudill ('65), Ann
and Charles (Chuck) ('64) Rinehart, Jimmy Hines ('64), Gale Guthrie, David McCay and his brothers,
John and Lyman, and Larry Bridgers. I hope this helped add to the list of Kids in the Neighborhoods.

Stay well and keep up the great work.

- Catherine Slusser Hudson ('64) of VA - 09/29/05

WOWZERS!!!  Thank you, Cathy!

Two links that are dear to me are the ones for Wee Wisdom Kindergarten and Marshall Courts. My father,
William F. Campbell, was one of the many men who migrated to NN from North Carolina in the early '40s
to work in the shipyard. We lived in Thomasville, NC, and, when my dad came to NN to apply for the job
as a machinist, he found that the pay would be more than he and my mother made together as workers
in the Amazon Cotton Mill in Thomasville. So, he took a job in the shipyard and applied for an apartment
in Marshall Courts, which was just being completed at the time.

We were one of the first families to move in, at 866 36th Street, on March 22, 1941. I am enclosing a clipping
from the March 15, 1941 Daily Press, which announced the opening of the government-subsidized project.
There were (still are) 10 apartments in each row of most of the 2-story apartments, but we were the only
occupants in the 860s row for a few days. The Peninsula Dairy, located on Jefferson Avenue between
35th and 36th Street, left complimentary quarts of milk on each of the 10 doorsteps, assuming that people
would be living in all of the units. Since no one else lived there but us, my brother and I thought that we lived
in the entire building, so we went and collected all 10 of the quarts of milk and brought them to my mother.
We were very upset to find out that only 1 quart belonged to us and that we would have to share the
building with 9 other families.

As you know, Marshall Courts was just one of the many projects that were built for the low-income families
who were brought here to work in the shipyard. So, one of the things that has perplexed me,  even today,  
is how my parents could have afforded to send me to Wee Wisdom Kindergarten when I was 5 years old.
No one in my family who would know the answer to this is alive, and I don't know how I could find this out
from anyone else. The teacher, and owner of the kindergarten, was Mrs. Walker, and she came around
to pick up several of us urchins in her woody station wagon with 'Wee Wisdom Kindergarten' emblazoned
on the doors. I am attaching a photo of that station wagon as it sits in the alley in front of our apartment,
with Mrs. Walker at the wheel. 

I don't know who was responsible for providing me the opportunity to attend Wee Wisdom, but I shall be
eternally grateful to whoever it was, because it enabled me to learn to read, do arithmetic, and socialize
with other kids, before I ever started to school. Because of that experience, I never felt intimidated
by anyone or any subject matter, and I was always able to stay 'a jump ahead' of the teachers. That
kindergarten was my 'Head Start'.

- Bill Campbell ('54) of VA - 12/10/05

WOWZERONI!  Thanks, Bill!

Remembering Walter Carney

... I remember a very sweet old black man named Walter who pushed a mobile convenience store around every night selling Betty Lewis Bread fresh from the bakery along with penny candy, candy bars and fresh donuts.  My favorites were Mary Janes and Hollywoods. Cool dark nights with the smell of fresh bread and donuts mingling with that of kerosene from Walter's lanterns hanging on his cart is right up there with the morning aroma of coffee and bacon. Yum!
- Judy Phillips Allen ('66) of VA - 09/18/05
Thanks, Judy!

When I lived in Marshall Courts there was a black man that came through in the evenings pushing a cart with sundries on it. Does anyone else remember him, and what was his name? I think he had the best donuts in the world. I could only buy them one night a week. I used to buy two of them, and my mom would buy one for each of my brothers (2) and sisters (2). I do not know where he got them, but I can close my eyes and if I think real hard, I can still taste them. 
- Jerry Blanchard ('62) of VA - 02/16/06
Thanks, Jerry!

You are right, the black man who pushed the cart around Marshall Courts was indeed named Walter.  I seem to remember he blew a whistle or is that something I dreamed up?  I think someone told me he was nearly blind because I always marveled that he could tell how much money we gave him.

- Jennie Sheppard ('62) of NC - 02/21/06
Thanks, Jennie!

Regarding Walter the bread/bun man, this article was written about him in the Shipyard bulletin.  Mickey (Marcella -'54 - of VA) and I remember him well
as I grew up in Seven Oaks and Mickey on 35th Street:

WALTER CARNEY - Itinerant Salesman (In Shipyard bulletin in 1947)

Walter is a familiar figure to Yard employees as well as to thousands of others who lived in NN.  He is Walter Carney, widower, born in Norfolk County, VA.  In 1912 he came to work for C.H. Fraley in the Coppersmiths Dept. and remained there until 1923 when he went into business for himself.  He had a pushcart made to his own specifications, a 1-man-power job that carried pies, cakes, buns, doughnuts, bread and candy. Every weekday at 6:15 am, Walter went to the Shipyard and down to the old bicycle shed.  At 7:15 am, he was on his way out to leave his cart at the parking lot beside the supermarket.  At 8:30 am, he breakfasted in a restaurant on Jefferson Avenue.  He  was back through the Main Gate at 11:30 am and out again at 1:15 pm.  During the afternoon, he replenished his stock of candy.  Around 5:00 pm, he left a bakery with 200 loaves of bread to be delivered personally to selected customers in East End.  Around midnight he pushed his almost-empty cart back over the 25th Street bridge and went back to the bakery shortly thereafter.  From then until 5:00 am, he had nothing to do but get ready for a repeat performance.

(This info. was compiled by Bobby Armstrong Class of '51 and Mickey Marcella Class of '54.)  This gentlemen belongs in the Newsome House,
which is our black history museum in East End.)
- Carol Moell Marcella ('56) of VA - 02/22/06
Thanks, Carol - and Mickey!
.. Does anyone remember Walter? He was an older black man. He would come around in the evening with his little cart selling all kinds of goodies.
- Carol Collier Sparrow ('63) of VA - 09/02/09
Thanks, Carol!

(This page created 03/10/05 at the suggestion of Jennie Sheppard - '62 - of NC.)

Back to Our Old Apartments

Return to NNHS Class of 1965