Introducing Mama: Virgie Knight and Betty Jo
As I begin to put down this part of our story, I imagine Bill standing thoughtfully and quietly behind the counter at his little general store back in the 1920’s, staring out of his freshly cleaned window, past the activity on the street, to a place only seen by those newly aware of something missing from their lives.
Sure, there was the price of cotton to consider, and the new stock ready to be put away, but maybe his attention was elsewhere.
Maybe this was the day he finally took notice of that one local girl who had stepped through his door so many times before. Maybe this was the day that Virgie Knight drew the eye of Bill Rasberry. Our story was forever changed on that fateful day.
It wasn’t that Virgie was a new face in Soso, even though she had recently moved to Laurel. Her family was one of the oldest in town! After all, her parents, Joe and Vermelle Welch Knight, had moved to Soso as children. Vermelle’s mother operated a boarding house in town and her husband was a local carpenter. Virgie had always been a part of local life.
And it wasn’t that Virgie was a simple woman, in fact she had lived a difficult life and had shown strength at every opportunity. She had graduated from business school with highest honors in her late teens and had worked in several different offices over in the city (when employment was lacking in Soso, one could always travel a few miles east to Laurel to seek out an opportunity).
When her father passed away, she moved her mother, little sister and brother into her home in Laurel and made the living for them all! After losing her mother as well, she took charge of her younger siblings and arranged for their education and safe keeping.
No, Virgie wasn’t just any local girl, and anyone can see why that look came over Bill’s eyes that day.
But, as we know, Bill wasn’t just any man – he was a spirited entrepreneur and deeply invested in the little town he had chosen to call home.
We can only wonder about the events that transpired through the following years. But, we do know for certain that in the end, Bill got his girl – after all, she was always just a window away.
Bill and Virgie were married January 28, 1926. They built a home right in the middle of Soso proper on Franklin St. and soon Virgie was just as much a part of the little store as Bill had been from the beginning.
Bill and Virgie enjoyed being a part of the community. They were active members in all of the local clubs and loved the little Soso church. Whether they were talking to farmers in the store, or working on a new project at the Masonic Lodge or O.E.S., the Rasberrys were sure to be found surrounded by others who, like them, had high hopes for the little town and were willing to work hard to see those hopes realized.
Little Betty Jo
On April 23, 1932 the little family was made whole with the birth of their only child, Betty Jo Rasberry.
Betty was a favorite around the store. She knew everyone in town and they all knew her!
Years later Betty wrote about her experiences growing up in Soso with her parents. She remembered fondly her parents’ love of travel, adventure and family.
She shared, “Soso was a wonderful place to grow up in those days. There were kids all over town to walk to and from school with, to play with, to enjoy the youth activities at the church and to just generally have a good time.
For parents who worked hard in the store every day, my mother and dad were always ready to go to the picture show, Sunday afternoon drives, the fair in Laurel, and at least one vacation every summer.
We visited the Rasberry family in Bay Springs, Aunt Mattie and Uncle Hildrey in Natchez, the Fords in Waynesboro, 2 Knight families in Meridian, Uncle Hollis and Aunt Naomi in Greenwood, and my dad always loved to go back to Scott County.
We went to Mobile and New Orleans to buy for the store, and to Jackson often. We vacationed at the coast and all over the south. By the way, during WWII our trips to New Orleans were made on the train from Laurel. I had a great time growing up!”
We like to think that Bill never lost that look in his eye. He was a devoted husband to Virgie until her untimely death April 30, 1949. He devoted his life to serving his community, loving his wife and raising a bright, happy daughter. We’re inspired by Bill and Virgie’s love for all of those around them and for their dedication to the little town they were so very proud of.
Their devotion was evident in the life of their little daughter, Betty. Tomorrow, we’ll share with you Betty’s own sweet love story, in her own words. We can’t wait for you to meet the man who perhaps inspired a look in Betty’s eyes much like her father’s.
In the meantime, be sure to hop on over to Facebook to share with us a few of your own stories from growing up in Soso, or whatever little town you called home. Sign up below to continue on with us, and to be the first to know when a new chapter of our story is unveiled.
The folks at Rasberry Greene