RIDGEWAY — We all have a story to tell but when BYU-TV’s production crew for “The Story Trek” came to the door of 71-year-old Virginia Miles in Ridgeway, she wasn’t sure of the story she would tell.
But as the three and half hour interview commenced, producer Nichole Coombs not only got a gripping story from Virgina, but a new friend as well.
Virginia’s story will air during Monday’s episode on BYU-TV at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Although the channel is not on Tru Vista, it can be found on Direct TV, Dish and Time Warner.
“The Story Trek” is a television series hosted by Todd Hansen that sets out to prove how fascinating so-called ordinary people actually are. Through random, door-to-door interviews, Hansen and his crew have found fascinating stories that will make viewers laugh, smile and cry.
The crew takes “random” to a whole new level. They pick towns by throwing darts at a map and will fly all over the United States to go house to house knocking on doors to find a story.
When the crew arrived at Virginia’s home, she was admittedly a tad hesitant to let them into her home.
“I asked them if they had come to rob me or were bringing me a million dollars,” Virginia said jokingly. “I was so shocked. I never thought a TV crew would come to Ridgeway or to my home. I never thought in a million years when I opened up the door that they would be there. I thought it was a joke and I just couldn’t believe it.”
But after viewing the right media credentials and the production crew van that was parked out front, Virginia decided to let the five-member crew into her home.
During the interview, Virginia spoke mostly about her family and her deceased son James Mattox Jr., who died just two months shy of his 10th birthday from a rare blood disease.
Monday’s episode will portray Virginia’s struggle to live her life after losing a son. One year after James’ death, she had another son, Allen.
“He (Allen) really helped us go on and move forward with life after James’ death,” Virginia noted. “It was only because of Allen and my two daughters that I was able to find the motivation to keep living.”
Two of her friends had also lost a child, and the three of them were able to help each other through by looking out for each other and comforting one another.
Still many years after the passing of her son, Virginia still has him in the forefront of her mind and always on her heart. Every night in her journal, she tells him how much she loves him and how much she misses him.
Virginia has lived in Ridgeway her entire life and was married for 35 years. She worked until she was 67 at Whirlpool (18 years), Isola (12 years) and owned and operated the Ridgeway Bargain Shop for 14 years. Before retiring, Virginia also worked at a daycare.
The love of her life is children and she asked her son, Allen, to have another child so she could take of him or her. Five months ago, that request came true. Allen’s wife had their second son, Dillon.
“They (grandchildren) are the love of my life and that is what I love to do (is take care of them),” Virginia said. “I love spending the night with them and I don’t miss a day without seeing or talking to them.”
She drives to Lake Murray every other day to see her grandchildren and talks to them on the phone everyday.
Allen, 43, retired from the Air Force three months ago and now flies commercially for American Airlines. As a child, Virginia said he told her he would fly F-16s and live on Lake Murray no matter if he had to eat bologna sandwiches and drive a Volkswagen forever.
“And you know what? He accomplished both of those goals and he worked his way all the way up,” Virginia noted.
Allen joined the Air Force when he was 18 years old and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Even though Virginia said she is proud of her son, he would probably be upset if he knew she talked him up so much.
“He might be mad if he knew I was telling you all this about him,” she said. “He just doesn’t like for anybody to brag or say anything about him because he is so humble.”
One of Virginia’s favorite hobbies is to ride her John Deere tractor. She enjoys cutting grass and even does her neighbors’ yards for free. One yard is four acres and the other is two acres.
She also likes to garden and paint houses, but most of all, she enjoys enjoys lending a helping hand to others. Everyday Virginia tells herself to do a good deed no matter what it is.
“It’s good just to help people out and we don’t help each other out enough,” she stated. “If you don’t have friends or family then you don’t have anything. You could be the richest person in the world but without loved ones then you don’t have anything.”
Besides cutting grass and painting, Virginia collects hats. She estimated having anywhere fr0m 60 to 70 and can often be seen around town dawning a fancy hat. Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring said it is always a pleasure to catch a glimpse of Virginia around town.
“It is such a treat to see Virgina riding her tractor wearing those fancy hats,” Herring stated.
Every Sunday morning, Virginia rides to church in her golf cart wearing one of her favorite hats. Her love of hats even rubbed off on Coombs. Coombs loved Virginia’s hat collection so much that Virginia sent her a pink one via mail. Virginia said that she still keeps in touch with the production crew through telephone and email.
“She (Coombs) called me yesterday and we just talk back and forth to each other,” she noted. “She (Coombs) said she loves the south and loves to visit South Carolina and Georgia. The whole crew was just so sweet and kind and we had the best time and they were such nice people. We just fell in love with each other.”