Today on Senior Voices, we meet Reverend Daria Dillard Stone, who was raised on Broadway in West Dayton. She shared her early memories with Dayton Metro Library interviewer, Jennifer Hicks.
Daria Dillard Stone (DDS): My name is Minister Daria Dillard Stone, also known as Mama Daria, Mama Stone, but most of all I like to be referred to as the Servant, and I am here as a senior, proud to be a senior, aged 66, grew up in Dayton Ohio, love Dayton, Ohio, I’m home grown as they say. I was born in March, March the 5th 1951, and as I remember, I grew up on Broadway, there was the Tabernacle Church was still there on Broadway, and then there was a carbonated juice company and a funeral home and then out home. And so I grew up with being the oldest of seven, and I was always the big sister, always leading, I didn’t like being the big sister, but one of the things I had to do, when I went to the library, went I to a movie, when I had girlfriends, take your brothers and sisters, and you all be good so Daria doesn’t have to fuss at you wh ile she’s with her friends, then I started dating, take your brothers and sis…and I’m like take my broth, anyway, now at age 66 and to see how my brothers and sisters still refer to me as the big sister and we still have word games, and we still play, did read this book, but now it’s on DVD, we’re all readers, we were taught to read, we had to read the oatmeal box, we had to read the cream of wheat box, mom and dad didn’t realize it, but there were teaching us to like school and I loved learning.
My parents’ names, my dad died in 1999 his name was Gilbert Dillard, my mom is still living her name is Norma Jean, Roebuck is her maiden name, Lartigue, and I thank god she’s 83 still living. She loved to read herself, then I have a step mother named Minnie Dillard who also helped raise me and she’s 83 and I have to give her props because she kept us reading, kept always in things where we had to recite, we had to be polished, we had to address people in a certain way. Did I like it then, no, but my god has it paid off.
Jennifer Hicks (JH): If you remember, what would you say your earliest memory was from childhood?
DDS: My earliest memory when I think back, and didn’t know it then, but I remember on my grandfather died in 1957, I believe, anyway I was 5 or 6 years old, and I remember his he and my grandmother, they lived next door to us growing up, so I remember thinking that granddaddy Dillard was sleep in the living room, I didn’t know that back then they had the wake and everything at the home, so as I got older and I would talk about why did Grandaddy Dillard come from upstairs in the bedroom to sleep in the living room and ya’ll had a party, it was people looking at him while he was sleep, so they’re gonna wake him up. I vaguely remember, all I remember is seeing this thing that looked like a bed to me, box, and my granddaddy was sleeping, he looked peaceful, but I didn’t know that that was a wake.
Oh, I’ve got a lot of memories, but that’s just one when you asked that, that that’s a memory it should’ve been scary to me, but it was just something as I got older, like what was going on that time when grandaddy was sleeping in the living room and everybody was here and looking at him, and then I was explained that that was a wake (Things you don’t know as a child,) And then I remember my uncle Theotis lived upstairs and he would kill chickens. We had a garden, we had chickens, on Broadway, I mean it was farm, I mean the farmers would come on Third Street and sell their stuff, the tomatoes, and everything was fresh, the apples, the peaches…
JH: Do you have any good memories of grandmothers, or were the all gone when you were little?
DDS: Oh my gosh, yes, no, no, no…Velma Fannie Dillard was my dad’s mom, and she was an angel. She helped rear me during the difficult days of my life when I mom and dad divorced, and he remarried my step-mom, and you know how children are, we don’t like nobody but our mom, we don’t understand adult stuff, next thing you know we’re moving, my mom’s not here anymore, and my grandmother would take me under wing and she would in essence over and over all my life say, “Baby, God’s gone use you, but he gotta cut you down a button hole or two, and everything you’re going though now, one day you’ll be grown and you’ll understand. I didn’t like it, I was very rebellious, because I just wanted to know where’s my dad, where’s my mom, I mean it was just a very difficult time in my life, but then I look back, God used all of that for his good, so I could tell my story and he would get the glory.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer and Senior Voices project coordinator Jocelyn Robinson. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.