Amos Remembers His Family Legacy
Just a few short weeks ago Wetzel County lost one of its heroes. Perhaps many were unaware of this and only remembered Virginia M. Amos as the kind sales clerk that worked at Ruttenberg’s, or a fellow member of the Steelton Church of Christ. Whatever the case, Roger Amos remembers his mother as a woman who possessed a pioneer spirit, a warrior, a Rosie the Riveter.
Roger is the only son of the late Virginia and late Everett Amos. He is very much proud of his warrior heritage, which dates all the way back to 1775 when his great-great-grandfather, Fred Sivert, came to colonies as a mercenary soldier, hired to defeat Washington.
Roger recalls the details of his family history easily, as it is a history that was passed on to him often by his late parents. Roger said his father, Everett Amos, lived on Mount Olive. The Amos’ sharecropped on other peoples’ farms.
“On the next hill over there was a family there called Hunter. They were well-to-do,” Roger noted. “They had a really beautiful home. The Hunters lived there. The Amos’ and the Hunters sharecropped. They had a son my dad’s age. His name was Charles Dail “Jack” Hunter, and he was a real character. He married my mom’s sister.”
“The Hunters had a Reo automobile. It had red leather seats and was a little luxury car. It was like a gangster car,” Roger said.
Jack Hunter would the car and travel to West, West Virginia to visit Faye Herman, the sister of Virginia Amos. Roger explained that Jack’s travels would always take him by the home of Everett Amos.
“He would go by Dad’s house. The roads were mud. They weren’t even, and the ruts were so deep. You could hardly get the car out of the rut. Jack would get out on the running board and ride the running board. He would play those three bulb horns and play Camptown Races while going by dad’s house. He’d go see Faye.”
Roger said this went on for a while until finally his Jack told Everett that “Faye has a pretty little red-headed sister. You ought to come over, and we will go to the square dance out at the German Settlement, out at St. Joe’s.”
Roger said Everett hopped in the car and they went out and “Dad met Mom.”
“Jack” Hunter, of course, later became “Uncle Jack.”
As of Virginia and Everett . . . “They got married in 1938, and I was born in 1948. The war interrupted their romance,” Roger said, chuckling.
Virginia and Everett moved in a log cabin at the head of Proctor Creek. He said even in those days the road was in poor condition, especially in the wintertime. Roger said there was a location on Doolin Road where the Amos’ would park their along the edge of the road. “They could climb over a fence and walk through a hayfield. It was just a quarter mile to their house.” Roger said his parents would wear their boots to and from their home. They would hide the boots under a nearby rock after reaching their car.
“The war comes along and Dad gets drafted to go to the Army,” Roger explained. “Everyone in the county was going to the military.”
Roger explained that on the day his father left, he put on his galoshes to head to the road the meet the mail truck, where he would ride into town to catch the rain. “He left the car there for Mom,” Roger explained. “Dad takes his boots off and shoves them under that rock and catches the mail truck. He’s gone for several years.”
Virginia made plans to work. The day after Everett went to the military, his mother also puts on her rubber boots and “goes up there to that rock, puts her boots under the rock and catches the mail truck back to town.”
After a few weeks, Virginia called her sisters and and told them to join her. “She said ‘You girls need to get out here. The country needs you, and the money’s good.'” Roger said “two more sisters hopped the train and came to Delaware, Leota and Ruby.”
Roger then tells a story of his parents’ dog, Jack. “He was one of those dogs you would never forget. He had a circle around one of his eyes. I forget which eye, but he had a big circle,” Roger explained. “You could talk to that dog; he knew what you were saying.”
Grandpa Amos lived on Mount Olive, within sight of Virginia and Everett. “He told his wife, Gertrude, ‘Everett and Virginia left their shoes down there. I’m going to go get their shoes and car, and put their car in the barn.’ He goes down to get the boots and there was the dog waiting for them to come home. He picks up the dog and throws it in the car, and the dog stayed there with him until they came home.”
Jack, of course, waited for his loyal master. “I guess a dog has no comprehension of time,” Roger noted, adding that when Everett came home the dog was laying on Grandpa Amos’ porch with his grandfather. “Dad gets out of the mail truck and the dog got up and ran to him and jumped right into his arms.”
During the war, Virginia Amos worked building 40mm anti-aircraft ammunition at Triumph Explosives, a division of Hercules Powder Company. “It’s still over there, and there is still an armed guard standing at the gate,” Roger said. “If there’s ever a war, we can make stuff there.”
Roger said there was later an explosion at the plant which killed several individuals. The factory was shut down for a time while rebuilding took place so displaced workers went to work at Glen L. Martin Aviation (Lockheed) to make fighter aircraft. “Mom was a Rosie the Riveter there for the rest of the war at the airplane factory. They would bring planes in over there and repair the planes and rebuild them. When they’d rebuild one, the girls there would fly that thing to make sure it was okay,” Roger explained, laughing.
Everett, stationed in the Phillipines, was later injured during hand-to-hand combat. Everett is sent stateside for surgery and recuperation and is sent to Martinsburg, where Virginia commutes to visit him on the weekends.
Roger noted that oftentimes during war “you’ll hear that two guys bonded, such as ‘I watched out for you, and you watched out for me.'”
For Everett Amos, his friend was Claude Davis.
Roger said Davis hailed from Caliente, Nevada. “I never met him, but heard about him all my life.”
While Everett is in the hospital, Mrs. Davis commuted by train from Caliente to the East and stayed with Virginia while Everett was in the hospital.
Roger said about 10 years ago he went out West to visit the Davis’ sons. He said “it was like I was at home . . . I was there 10 days.”
Roger still has the time card his mother carried out of the plant on Aug. 9, 1945, the day the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Roger said all plant workers were laid off and told to “Go home. The war is over.”
The Amos’ return home, where Everett goes to work as a carpenter and Virginia worked as a housewife, as well as at Ruttenberg’s. Roger said his was always a “model citizen,” not “selling dope or robbing banks.”
“The reason they didn’t have to sell dope or rob banks is they worked and made something of themselves. They encouraged kids and grandkids and neighbors to help your family and help your country. If there was a theme to Mom’s life, that was it.”
Roger said his mother was 15 or 16 years of age when the Great Depression hit. Virginia went to work in New Martinsville as a housekeeper at a boarding house. Virginia made money to send home to help her parents in West. “She wasn’t out there watching TV, as there was no TV,” Roger said, adding, “She worked.”
Virginia came from a family of three boys and six girls, including herself. Roger said all boys were combat veterans of WWII. All boys came home safely.
Roger easily recollected a story of his uncle, Willard.
Roger said when his mother was at Genesis Health Care Center, she was visited by a lady who later told Roger that her husband had served in the Army with Uncle Willard. The lady asked Roger if he knew why his Willard had never married. Roger said he did not.
Roger explained that he was told that during combat, while running the tanks for days, and witnessing so much destruction and death, Willard turned to the woman’s husband and told her that if he made it out alive, he would go home and never leave his farm.
This was the case for Willard Herman. Roger states that his uncle “lounged around on the farm and didn’t have a care in the world.”
“You can see why,” Roger said. “There were dead soldiers laying everywhere. It’s war, and (Willard and his friend) got out of it alive.”
Roger himself is the father of eight children, one of whom, Michael, is a well-decorated officer in the Navy. He said his mother was “thrilled” about Michael’s military career and “supported him 100 percent.”
Roger noted that he was the only male in his family who did not serve in the military. However Roger has, in his own way, had a colorful life.
He worked as a pipefitter for several years and can recollect the Willow Island Disaster. He worked at the plant at the time and witnessed the tragedy; he stated that he could not return after the disaster.
Furthermore, just three years ago, Roger had to possess a warrior spirit after he almost died when him and his four-wheeler went 30 feet over a ravine. Roger ended up with a broken neck and was paralyzed for a while afterward.
Roger is, indeed, serving the people in his own way. Whether it is through sharing stories of his heroic family’s military past, or whether it is sharing a photo of his son, with his sterling military record, Roger is helping to ensure the memories of our nation’s heroes and the legacy of their hard work never becomes stale.