An Interview With Evelyn June Yoho
Born on July 3, 1929 in Reader, Evelyn June Yoho attended the Crows Run one-room school, where she was a champion speller. Her vibrancy and infectious smile were her trademarks then, just as they are now. A champion speller in grade school, she is still a master of the lost art of cursive writing.
In the halcyon days of her childhood, she was spoiled by her two uncles, who even let her ride a pony to school. She has vivid memories of special adventures with her dad, who would take her to town (New Martinsville) to watch movies. After the show, they would stop at Sam Sadd’s grocery store where they would get a loaf of bread, bologna, and cheese to make sandwiches. On the way home. they would stop In Porters Falls and drink the cool, clear water that came straight out of the hillside; she still remembers how good that water tasted and how she felt like she was living the high life.
At the age of sixteen, she started working as a nurse’s aide at the Wetzel County Hospital. She still reflects fondly on the nurses who worked there who took care of her and made sure she had a place to live. When she turned 18, she married Troy Victor Tennant and they raised five children.. When the kids began school, she became a school bus driver and was much beloved by all the children for her personality and safe driving.
Perhaps remembering those glorious days of bologna and cheese sandwiches with her dad, June and Troy operated a gas station and grocery store with a lunch counter where she served her famous hot dog sauce, burgers, and fish sandwiches. The family business was open from 6:30 in the morning until 9:30 in the evening. Now a grandmother of ten, June still loves gardening and is a resolute house cleaner.
What was Reader like growing up?
People were resourceful. I can remember foraging for nettles. Reader was very independent. We had our own post office, grocery store, hardware store, clothing store and more. The high school and grade school were in one building with a big gym. The teachers and principals were great.
The Great Depression had a profound effect on people who lived through it. Can anyone today have any idea how tough it was?
Today, given the economic impact and woes due to the pandemic, I now think people really CAN get some sense of what living through the Great Depression was like. But not really. It was bad.
You were a young person during World War II. What did young people in Reader do while the war was fought overseas?
Young people worked at all jobs that needed done such as caring for the elderly or selling sweepers door to door. I was sixteen when I began working as a nurse’s aide at the Wetzel County Hospital. I rented a room from some nice people close to the hospital.
What were some of your duties as a nurse’s aide?
I would bathe and feed patients. After each patient was released, I cleaned beds and furniture. I carried trays that were sent up on the dumb waiter. New mothers were squeezed into the solarium and had to stay for ten days. Times were tough and storage rooms were converted into patient rooms due to lack of space. Sometimes, the nurses would order an extra tray of food for me to eat.
You drove a school bus for 25 years. What was it like during heavy snows?
We always left our buses at the ends of the runs. We had to leave our cars at the starting point when ready to start the run. On heavy snow days, we would put chains on manually to prepare for a drive on narrow country roads made even trickier by the harsh weather. I was grateful for the wonderful parents on my route. For most of my driving career, my route was up Piney. There were no automatic chains or snow days. We went to school when there were several inches of snow. Social media didn’t exist so no pressure to cancel school.
You and your husband ran a successful business. Any tips for an aspiring business person?
You really can’t avoid hard work; And long hours ….a big part of it is good bookkeeping and paperwork. And Treating people right brings in repeat customers.
What quality do you most admire and what quality to do you most deplore?
The quality I most admire is honesty; the trait I deplore is laziness!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy family and kids more. Don’t worry so much about keeping things neat and tidy.
You have more energy than many half your age. Any health tips you can share with us?
I don’t really have more energy! I’m simply determined to get things done that need doing. At a young age, I had to take on a lot of responsibility, and I’ve never felt a need to change my attitude.
Can you tell me about some of your happiest memories?
Family get-togethers are hard to top.
What are you proudest of in your life?
I’m proud of all my family, and the fact that I, with very little education, was able to go out and work for everything I have.
You are a renowned speller. Is there a word that gives you trouble?
I can’t really think of a particular word, but words with lots of vowels like “eulogy”, for instance, sometimes trip me up.
Who were your favorite relatives?
My favorite relatives were my maternal uncles, Clyde and Guy, as well as my paternal Uncle Ed and Aunt Ruth Yoho (who still lives in New Martinsville). Another favorite was my Uncle Stanley.
Do you have a favorite remembrance of your uncles?
My Uncle Clyde got me a pony named Golden which I rode to and from school sometimes.
During the pandemic, how has your daily routine changed?
I’m alone much more which is awful because I love people. and I spend more time with phone calls..
What are some of your favorite foods?
I like almost any kind of seafood and good steaks are on my list.
Anything on your bucket list?
I’ve been to Mexico, England, three times to Seattle, Las Vegas and many more nice places I probably never thought as a little girl that I’d visit! So, no, nothing really!