At My Birth
My first cousin, Hazel Summerfield, holding me at 4 months.
I was born August 23, 1931 in the town of St Albans, West Virginia. That is 13 miles west of Charleston. I am the 7th of 8 children. Mother and Dad were living just a short distance from the Tayes Hill Cemetery and on the 23rd of August, 1931, in the early hours of the morning my mother told my dad she was ready for him to go down the hill and wait for the doctor. So dad went to a neighbor’s home and called the doctor, then he started the walk down the hill to where he was to meet him. It was really raining hard all of this time too. The doctor finally got there and picked up dad and they went up to our home and in just a few minutes dad said I was born—a 9lb 6oz baby boy.
Well, mother said I was pretty healthy at first, but the doctor said mother’s milk didn’t have any strength in it. They took me to several doctors and put me on different formulas and finally a doctor said, “There’s nothing we can do for him.” I didn’t have long to live. Dad decided to take me out to this ‘ole country doctor. He asked them what they were feeding me and dad said, “The best formula we can buy.” The doc looked at dad kinda funny and said, “Throw that junk away and get you a Jersey cow. Dad told him he had a good Guernsey so he thought that would be okay for awhile, but if that doesn’t work, get a Jersey. Well, mother said the Guernsey worked just fine, and I never did pass out any more or show and any more signs of sickness.
My Father, James Stewart Casdorph
James Stewart Casdorph as a young man.
Murtle Vaughn as a young woman
My dad grew up Baptist out on Kanawha Two Mile Road. The area was called that because it was a creek that was just 2 miles from Charleston. Dad said most people didn’t go past the 6th grade and he only went to the 4th grade. He said, “I chewed up 4 primers”.
My Mother, Myrtle Vaughn
My mother was born in St. Albans, West Virginia, in 1897. She is the oldest of nine children. Her father was James Earnest Vaughn. He sold life insurance for a living. He passed away in 1940. My Grandmother and Grandfather Vaughn, as long as I knew them, lived in Vandailia, West Virginia, right across the Patrick St. Bridge over the Kanawha River that connects Charleston with South Charleston.
Mother was educated as far as the 9th grade so when she was 16 years old she got a job working at a 5 and 10 cent store making real good money--$1.85 per week! One day the store caught fire and she was severely burned. Her hair was burned off her head and it left some great big scars on one of her shoulders and one of her hips. The doctor said she would never be able to walk again or have children. Well, her mother, my grandma Vaughn, wouldn’t believe that so she took some liniment oil and rubbed it on my mothers scars several times a day and even at night. The scars were still there but she had no trouble moving her arms, hands, feet and legs.
She was a member of the Southern Baptist Church in Bonimont, near South Charleston. Dad and Mother met through my dad’s sister Lola Casdorph. When they decided to get married she told him that she would marry him under one condition—that he give up boxing! Dad said okay! He had never lost a fight yet in his life but he was willing to give it up for mother.
Mother and Dad’s courtship was recorded by her grand daughter, Pattie Scott White, as told to her by Myrtle: “When I was 17 or 18 I went with a fella named Ray Spradling on and off for over a year. He used to call me Mrs. Spradling because he said I might as well get used to it. He started talking marriage pretty seriously, but he didn’t hold jobs too well. His father got a transfer to Huntington, W.Va and Ray asked me to marry him and we’d go down with his folks. I told him to go on ahead and I’d decide. I was only 18 and wasn’t really ready to get married. I wanted to work for a while. Well, his Dad and Mom had me down to dinner just before they moved. After we ate his dad asked je to come and sit on his lap and he got Ray next to him and said, “Why don’t you two get married and come down to Huntington with us.” I said, “No, he needs to get a permanent job and I’m not quite ready for marriage.”
After they moved, a girl friend of mine, Lola Casdorph, and I went to the show one Saturday night and she said, “I have a big brother who wants to meet you.” I said OK. So I met him there at the theater and the three of us watched the movie together. (I don’t know if I watched the movie or not!) After the show we ditched him. I spent the night with Lola and I didn’t see Jim anymore until we were leaving the house the next morning. He was sitting on the porch waiting for me. Lola said, “Myrtle, I hate for you to walk all the way home alone.” Jim then said, “She doesn’t have to walk alone.” (He was 24 years old).
When they were married, he and mother moved several times wherever dad could find a place to work at until he learned how to weld. They didn’t have a car at first.
When he got a job with the United Fuel Gas Company as a welder, he was able to stay right there in Charleston. Occasionally he would go out on some jobs for a few days welding a pipeline or something for a short while such as the one in Pikesville Ketucky. Just before World War II started, he got a job with the McJukin Supply Company, also welding, but it was mostly oil well equipment I think. I have even gone to work with dad quite a few times but he never taught me how to weld with sudaleen or electric. I remember when he took me to work with him down in Nitro W. Va. and I fished in the Kanawha River and caught some pretty nice channel catfish – but they tasted like oil so we couldn’t eat them. Nitro is a small town just a few miles west of Charleston. Its name is derived from the fact that ‘nitroglycerin’ was made there during the First World War.
James Stewart Casdorph
My Father, James Stewart Casdorph
Father and Mother
Father and Mother
Myrtle Vaughn (left)
James Stewart Casdorph (seated)
James Stewart Casdorph, The Boxer