TIDBITS from TOM SIMMONS

An excerpt  from the Journal of Tom Simmons, age 90, of Rural Hall, Forsyth County, NC. 

 
 Forsyth County's POOR HOUSE was on the right going into Winston, where an air plane hanger for US Airways is now.  It was a big brick house with a porch across the front.  When the Simmons's went to town, peddling on Saturdays, they went past it. The porch was usually setting full of resident "patients".  There was an albino negro girl who lived there.  Her name was "Gine".  Everyone who passed by would call her name.  She waved and called back to them.  Everyone knew Gine.

Also the big house had the first real Drivers License Office.  Tom got his first one at age 14 at the bank in Rural Hall.  Buck Kiger was a notary and they cost a quarter.  His second one was gotten at the Poor House.

 Before the Poor Houses played out and the State and County Institutions and Social Security came into effect,  if you were old or were a little disabled but had a home and enough to live on, you could petition the County for a "poor Person" to live with you.  You would get a little money from the county to help with expenses and they lived in your home and helped look after the landlord.

Orphanages became big business in the 1940's and 50's.  Until then orphans stayed in the poor house or were bonded to someone in the community until becoming of age and occupation.  ...

Toby's friend at Archer tells of Poor Houses being burned.  And the Zenendorph Hotel's first floor was for "Street People".  And there were a lot of them.  The Robert E. Lee Hotel's basement took in street people.  They had to stop because it was interfering with their regular customers.  These two hotels are both gone now. 

[Note: We really appreciate these oral history accounts of people who remember what the old poorhouses were like. Thanks to Tom and his daughter, Nora Ellen Simmons Cranfill, for submitting this.  PHL ]
 

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