The human life span puts boundaries on the personal histories that are so important to us. We can only go back one lifetime, so, as time goes on, we lose invaluable information about where we live and the people who make our home what it is. There is a sort of anxiety that surfaces when we realize that knowledge about our surroundings is slipping away from us with every moment.
Charles C. Moore Sr., known by those around him as C.C., turned 92 on Monday. He has lived in Chesterfield County for 64 years. When Moore moved here from Buckingham County, Route 10 wasn’t just a two-lane highway; he says it was a dirt road.
Moore was born in Valentine, Va., and, although it’s much smaller, it is probably better known than his current home of Chester. Many remember his hometown every Feb. 14, when thousands ship their love letters and cards to Valentine for that special post mark. His mother’s maiden name was Valentine.
“My grandfather started the Valentine post office,” Moore said. “They get bundles of mail down there on Valentine’s Day.”
When Moore arrived in this area he lived on Harrowgate Road, not too many years after the streetcar track had been retired in favor of the Richmond to Petersburg bus. But Moore didn’t take public transportation to his job at Southern States in Richmond, where he worked until 1980; he drove each day. He said traffic wasn’t too bad on Route 1 at the time because many did take the bus and the streetcar to Richmond.
However, Moore did ride the streetcar when commuting from Brunswick to Randolph Macon in Ashland while attending college before World War II. He passed the location of his future home every day.
“My mother used to bring me to Petersburg and I’d ride [the streetcar] to Richmond, make the change, and take it on to Ashland. The trolley road was where Harrowgate Road is now. The trolley ran that route and the road was off to the side.”
Moore has made piles of friends while making a life in Chester and a group of them planned something special in light of a story he likes to tell about his flight training while in the Army Air Corps during the war: A flight in the training aircraft the Fairchild PT-19. If the weather is right, Moore will take flight in the refurbished trainer this week.
As the story goes, Moore was in the front seat of the two-seat Fairchild during a training flight when the pilot noticed Moore wasn’t strapped in and went about teaching him a lesson he’d never forget.
“I wasn’t wearing a seat belt, so he turned the plane over and I fell out,” Moore said. “I didn’t have time to think, I had to pull the rip cord [on my parachute]. Now, you know, they tell you to fasten your seat belt on the road. I never fail to fasten my seat belt.”
While Moore shares a name with R.D. Moore, who owned the often remembered Moore’s Lake, he wasn’t related.
“He was Chester back in those days,” Moore said of R.D. “We used to go to the lake quite a bit back in those days. I guess you might say it was first class. He ran a good ship. He ran a dance hall there and they had to be on their toes and on the Ps and Qs, as I call it. There was no foolin’ around.”
Moore refers to Polly Spinner, who later ran Moore’s Lake, as a “nice fellow, a self made man.” And of Mr. Crump, who later owned Moore’s cottages, he said: “They had to work for what they got back in those days, there was no stimulus back then.”
Moore remembers the heart of Chester: “Joe Sandford’s store and Beasley’s were the only grocery stores. Joe Sanford’s was where the Walgreen’s is at now and the Shepherd House was right next door. There was no Village Green and no Centre Street and Mr. Truheart was the banker.”
Before they built Interstate 95, Moore said things were a bit different.
“You all can’t remember, but I can, [Route] 301 out here used to be the only way from north to south and all those people going to Florida had to come right through here.”
He said that when the state was debating were to put the expressway they had considered the old Seaboard Airline Railway bed, which had been abandoned.
“The old Seaboard used to come through here,” Moore said, referring to the rail line that ran north and west of Chester proper, which now is partially used for Linear Park.
“They didn’t have much of a station. My wife Jane’s grandmother used to get on the train at Lacrosse [and ride to Chester] and there was no station master up here or anything; it wasn’t a regular stop and one time the train went on through Chester and it was on up near Bellwood, and she finally got the conductor and she said, ‘You passed my stop and you didn’t get me off.’ So the conductor stopped the train and it backed the whole way into Chester and let her off.”
The Bruce Farms subdivision runs adjacent to the same abandoned rail line. Moore and his friend Judge Ernest Gates developed it into lots.
Moore has been a longtime member of the Lions Club in Chester. Some 35 or 40 years, he thinks. “I don’t hold any post now, I just attend the meetings. We all met upstairs at the firehouse back then.”
He can also tell you a lot about club activities years ago. “Back in those days, yeah man, we used to put on [variety] shows. We had good variety shows and raised money.
We don’t have those today. Today we raise our money on the white cane days, mostly.”
Moore has two children: A son, Charles Moore, Jr., who is a doctor in Richmond, and Sandy Burch, who lives at Lake Chesdin. He has four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.