Robinson Nevius and her younger sister Mary Robinson Moody spent
the years of their childhood and adolescence in Old Glenville.
The sisters remember the community in the days prior to the construction
of Thorpe Dam and reservoir. Old Glenville sat in a fertile valley
along the banks of the Tuckaseegee River. Small, family farms
speckled the landscape. "People farmed with horses, mules, and
steers. All crops were set out by hand and harvested by hand."
The Robinson family lived on a small farm. "We had our own food,
milk, butter, eggs, and chickens. The house was simple, and the
cracks in the walls allowed the house to be 'air conditioned'
by Mother Nature." The town consisted of a school, the Baptist
and Wesleyan churches, a post office, a general store, and an
inn called the Fowler House. "Neighborly love" tied the community
together. People were always willing to lend a helping hand to
those in need. The tight knit community was a safe haven for children.
"The only thing we ever had to worry about was every once in a
while, there'd be a drunk man come singing up the road."
When plans for the dam were finally
underway, Old "Glenville began to change rapidly. However, many
people welcomed the project. Daddy was glad to see it because
it brought work." As a result of the project, many families were
displaced. The Robinsons moved before they were forced from their
home. Their parents believed that the home, located beside the
road, had become a dangerous place for the children due to the
increasing traffic. Their father built a new house a few miles
away and moved the family before displacement began.
During World War II, electricity reached
their family. A light bulb hanging from the ceiling was the sisters'
first taste of electricity in their home. A radio soon followed.
Electricity changed their lives drastically, simplifying household
chores. They were most excited to get an electric iron, which
would relieve the uncomfortable duty of heating up an iron in
the summer heat.
Though their way of life was altered
greatly, the family embraced their new, modernized life with electricity.
"I know in a lot of ways the building of the dam helped the people.
And it spoiled us too."