Seven Oaks Apartments
Newport News, VA 23607

Seven Oaks Apartments were located between Marshall Courts and the C&O Railroad rail line from Newport News to Hampton, running parallel to 39th Street,
which becomes Pembroke Avenue as you enter the City of Hampton. They were situated in the 800-Block, 700-Block, and 600-Block of 36th Street.

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/14/05
Thanks, Joe!

THEN: NOW:
      Thursday, April 21, 2005
Image by Joe Madagan ('57) of FL:
I REMEMBER LIVING IN SEVEN OAKS BETWEEN 1959 THROUGH 1962. WE USED TO GATHER AT THE LITTLE CLUMP OF APPLE AND CHERRY TREES NEAR THE OLD SLAUGHTER PEN FIELD. DURING THE SPRING AND SUMMER MONTHS, THE KIDS USED TO TIE THE JUNE BUGS' LEGS TO STRING AND WATCH THEM FLY ROUND AND ROUND. A GROUP OF US KIDS WENT OVER TO THE SLAUGHTER PEN FIELD AND BUILT A BIG DUGOUT CLUBHOUSE COMPLETE WITH A LEAF AND GRASS COVERED ROOF. WE LOVED GOING TO THE OLD STORE AT WICKHAM AND BUY MARY JANES AND BANANA SPLITS AND NECCO CANDIES. THE MEMORIES OF GETTING IN GROUPS TO PLAY RED ROVER AND FOOTBALL IN FRONT OF THE 847 BUILDING SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY.

DURING THE HEAVY RAINS THE ALLEYWAYS USED TO BACK UP WITH FLOODING WATER. I REMEMBER SEEING TWO GROWN MEN FIGHTING AT THE RAILROAD TRACKS BEHIND THE OLD WAREHOUSE AND SLAUGHTER PENS. I WOULD WALK UP MARSHALL TO THE KINDERGARTEN AT THE RECREATION CENTER AT 25TH STREET. LATER ON I RODE THE YELLOW SCHOOL BUS TO THE SCHOOL NEAR THE SHIPYARD. I REALLY MISS ALL THE CLOSENESS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS !
Here is a photo of the Recreation Center
for Marshall Courts, which was also used
by Seven Oaks residents
for various activities
- Leonard Harville of VA - 01/03/13
Thanks, Leonard!
- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/14/05
Thanks, Joe!


 Many workers at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company found reasonably priced
housing in these apartment complexes and so many TYPHOON spent their early years living
in these apartments. It was a great community, and the community center served the young people
by providing a center for activities such as Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and many other activities.

TYPHOON Regards,
Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/14/05

Thanks, Joe!
 


Now, my dear,
Seven Oaks was and still is located right along the C&O Railroad tracks on 36th Street.  On the other side
of 36th was Marshall Courts.  These apartments were practically totally occupied by railroad and shipyard
families. 

Some of the famous young people other than Monty ('62), Judy ('66), and Brenda ('67) Phillips were: 
Thelma ('57) and Charlotte (Warwick High School - '65) Spade and brother Michael (next door);
Ludwig Malacek ('63); also Marsha and Pat and Ann Duncan; Tommy ('58), Josie ('62), Anita ('66),
Doris and Nancy Morgan; Sharron Wanderer ('61); Dickie Dawes (NNHS / Hampton High School - '62);
Steve ('68), Carol and Doug Larsen, Jimmy ('61) and Barbara Elliott and one other :( , Gene ('61) and Fuzzy
('63) Turner; Tommy ('66) and Marianne Seaborn; Billy Dunkley (Hampton High School - '62); Billy ('61)
and Jeanette Fowler; Betsy ('62), Carolyn, and Maxon ('55) Barnhouse; Sandra Favor; Oris and Cleo
Deeds; Charles Hall; Carolyn Smith; J.C. and Vivian Martin; Alvin (Junior) Gill, Billie ('63) and Kitty 
('64) and brother Dabney; Cathy and Janie Roane; Grayson Blount ('62) and a sister; Dimples
Dinwiddie ('58); Jim ('64) and Bob Hines ('66); Henry Price and sister, Debbie; Charlie ('64) and Marie
('66) Snead; Wayne King and sister, Virginia (Tinkie); JoJo Suttle; Edward Joe Corbitt; Wayne and
Kaye ('59) Knight; Ronnie and Kenny ('65) Carter; Bobby Skinner; Mary Ellen Brewer; Lillian Hodge;
and I'll finish with all my cousins (Phillips clan), Myra, Charlene, Edward (Ferguson High School); and
Cookie ('64) and Charlie ('65) Phillips. 
 
Looking back, it was a great place to grow up.  Mothers or housekeepers took good care of us as children
and after those family suppers, all the neighbors sat out on the porch and talked or played horseshoes,
croquet or badminton.  They supervised us and taught us to have fun and get along (didn't need today's
electronics).  I miss those days. I remember summer evenings when Mr. Spade and his brother would sit
out on the porch and sing and play ukuleles.

The kids could play Red Light, Ring-a-levio, Hide 'n Seek and Marbles 'til we dropped.  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!

NOW, I had to call Monty to help me with some of these names and it will take a helper to come up with an
equally lengthy list from the Marshall Court Crowd.  Any volunteers?  I do remember, of course, Ronnie
('65) and Ruby ('60) Phillips, John and Jeanette Lewis....  Don't worry!  I won't continue.

Typhoon Love
Judy Phillips Allen ('66) of VA - 09/18/05

WOWZERONI!!! Thanks, Judy - and Monty!


Recently you listed some classmates who lived in "Seven Oaks"... my dad had a grocery store at 35th and
Wickham for many years ... I would work there on Saturdays, helping him to stock shelves and even rode a
delivery bike thru out the neighborhoods there, until the BeLo grocery chain, caused my father to sell ... I
imagine I delivered to many of those homes ...

- Tom Flax ('64) of VA - 09/21/05

Thanks, Tom!


Carol, 

     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 that...how 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
Smith...('65).

    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!!!


Hi! Carol,
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your Newsletter.  I loved reading
about Seven Oaks, what memories it brought back.  I grew up with some great friends
from that area who are still some of my closest friends today.

- Kay Knight Midkiff ('59) of VA - 09/29/05

How wonderful - and how rare!  Thanks, Kay!


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
Pool 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!


Carol,

I have just finished reading the Seven Oaks information.  I was born at Buxton Hospital and was brought home to our apartment in Seven Oaks.  Within three years my two older sisters left home to enter the nursing program at Buxton.  We lived in Seven Oaks until I was 17 and moved to Newmarket.  I, too, have many wonderful memories of that neighborhood.  My  mother told me that she used to take me to West’s Grocery to get weighed on their scales when I was a baby.  Like Judy Phillips Allen ('66 of VA) stated, most of the people that lived there worked in the shipyard or railroad.  A lot of us were members of Tabernacle Baptist Church on 30th street and we were like one big family.  Our neighbors were the Duncans, Kings, and Rileys - Jennifer ('63) and Anita ('57).  They were all like my family. When I was taking Sewing class in 8th grade we were told we had to make that famous apron – Mrs. King was an accomplished seamstress and readily came to my aid so that I could finish the project.  We walked to the Rec Center on 25th and Wickham during the summer to swim and then stopped at the ice cream store across the street to buy ice cream.  My brother Tommy ('58) met his future wife, Norma ('57) at Seven Oaks when he was 13 (she lived in the next court down from us) and they never dated anyone else and have been married for almost 47 years.  I remember Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Spade and Mrs. Larson with fondness because of their willingness to put as many kids in their car and take us to school on cold, rainy days.  I have told my own two children that there was never a problem finding someone to play a game with or walk to the store while growing up there. 

- Anita Morgan Becker ('66) of VA - 10/17/05

Thanks, Anita!
 


OK, if you can do it I can do it...! I just got 'around' to reading the above letters, and the second one hit me right between the shoulder blades....pictures of Seven Oaks. I called my husband in to see where I used to live and he said, you aren't going to believe this, "Oh, it looks just like the Naval Housing my family used to live in !" He is so kind and I know better since his father was a Captain in the Navy and they had five kids ! My parents were still living there until the mid sixties or maybe the early '70's at the most.

It might interest some of us that the little store next to or near the old slaughter house was the little store that Helen Flax, Tommy Flax and Joel Flax's father used to own ! At the other end of the 800 block there was a small strip mall that held the store that Elaine Stein's father owned. I hope they are happy that I remembered this, I know I am happy that I remembered it !

Memories of Seven Oaks...and for me Marshall Courts. We moved to Seven Oaks when I was an eighth grader. I was always and still am left to wonder whether we lived "across the tracks" or just before them ! Not that it mattered, the neighbors were mostly all good and the kids played well together. Tommy Morgan found the love of his life in the 700 block, the lovely, kind and dazzling Norma Jean... and we were all happy when a family had managed to save enough money to buy a house and move out of "an apartment" even though we would miss them with all our hearts. They seldom came back but we would visit them so we could see their house, and mansions they were, making them proud after the 'railroad kitchen,' one bath and two bedrooms lacking air conditioning that made it impossible to sleep at night after you reached a certain age. Some would stay in touch by phone, and some at school, but they left a hole in the little community that we had and we eventually grew to know those that moved in to take to place of those that moved out.

I hear from Ann Mabe Leighton that they are still there...they have served many and left us with memories of good times and bad. The worst of the bad times was when Mr. Simons fell off a boat while fishing and drowned. And left a good wife and two little girls without a husband or father. They moved back to North Carolina soon after...we never heard from them again...

The best times were when the wives would go inside when the weather started getting warm. About the time the kids got home from school, to start dinner for their hard working men that toiled day after day in the Shipyard to put the food on the table and save a little for that house ! After supper, especially when it was warm, we would all come back outside to gather on the stoop or in lawn chairs just to relax and chat while the little kids played in the middle of the grassy courts.

Most of us that lived there have come a long way, we like looking back but not going back...I suppose that is the way it is meant to be. I am glad I lived there, a few friendships still intact, some just memories. The memories keep me in mind of who I am and don't let me forget where I came from and that good, wholesome, moral people can be found anywhere if you take the time to look. That good and bad times can be had anywhere, no matter who you are. I believe the best times were when you never had to worry that someone would break into your apartment or steal the bikes and lawn chairs off the porch ! Things change...they always will...

- Dimples Dinwiddie Prichard ('58) of NC - 01/14/13

WOWZERONI! Thanks so much, Dimples!
 


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