William H. Berge Oral History Center
Coal Company Towns Project
Interview with Truman Ray Perry
September 26 1981(1982oh036)
Conducted By Anna Perry
Transcribed by Laurie Wilcox
ANNA PERRY: The following is an unrehearsed taped interview with Truman RayPerry, US Army retired. The interview was conducted by Anna Perry, student of oral history for the Oral History Center of Eastern Kentucky University. The interview was conducted at Corbin Kentucky on thte 26th of September at 10:30 am.
TAPE TURNED OFF
ANNA: I want to thank you for allowing me to interview you on tape. What is your name?
TRUMAN PERRY: My name is Truman Perry.
ANNA: Is that your full name?
TRUMAN: Truman Ray Perry.
ANNA: And when were you born?
TRUMAN: I was born 18 October 1935.
ANNA: You were born here in Kentucky where?
TRUMAN: I was born in a coal mining camp that was called Creech's but the real1:00name was Twila.
ANNA: What was that the town name was Twila?
TRUMAN: The was the post office name, Twila.
ANNA: How do you spell that?
ANNA: What was your father's name?
TRUMAN: My fathers name was Raymond Perry. And my mother's name was BonnieHatmaker Perry.
ANNA: Hatmaker was her maiden name?
TRUMAN: Hatmaker was the maiden name.
ANNA: Uh huh. Do you have any brothers and sisters?
TRUMAN: I have two brothers and one sister.
ANNA: Were any of them born in the mining camp?
TRUMAN: One brother and one sister, they were born in Twila.
ANNA: What were their names?
TRUMAN: My sister's name was Ova and my brother was Harold.
ANNA: Are they still living?
TRUMAN: Both of them are still living.
ANNA: Um hm. Well you were born in the mining camp right?
TRUMAN: I was born.
ANNA: Do you remember where in, inside the camp?
TRUMAN: I was born in the place that, the one thing that me and Loretta Lynn2:00have in common, I was born in Shotgun Holler.
ANNA: Shotgun Holler, huh?
ANNA: Why'd they call it that?
TRUMAN: I don't have the least idea but it was Shotgun Holler, I do rememberthat the house was, one side of it was mudded flush against the mountain and the other side was about 35 foot off the ground. [laughing]
ANNA: What's, what's the first thing you remember that you know, about?
TRUMAN: The first, first thing has to be the smell.
ANNA: The smell?
TRUMAN: The smell of coal dust, because that's all you smelled.
ANNA: I didn't realize coal dust had a smell.
TRUMAN: Oh yeah it has a distinctive smell. Actually that's the first thing youremember is your dad coming home from work and the only thing you can see is the whites of his eyes and his teeth. [laughing -- Anna perry]
ANNA: Whites of the eyes and his teeth huh, he had coal dust all over him?3:00
TRUMAN: Oh covered, black.
ANNA: Seems like once you said that something else you remembered about whenyour Dad came home. When you were real little something around there.
TRUMAN: Well he always, he always carried his lunch. They had their lunch bucketand the top part of the lunch bucket, it was round. The top part it had their food in it, the bottom part had water and in his lunch box he, he would always take something extra, cake or something like that. And then he would bring that home to us kids. So we, we all looked forward to him coming home so we could get the cake or whatever he was bringing home.
ANNA: Did you know that he had taken something extra just for you or would youjust think?
TRUMAN: No no we just thought he left it.
ANNA: Did you go to school in a mining camp?4:00
TRUMAN: I went from the first; I went first and second, well. They called it uhprimer but its primary. It was the primary grade and then first grade then second grade and go up there at Creech's.
ANNA: What was, can you remember the school house and teacher?
TRUMAN: Uh, I can't remember the teacher's name. The principals name wasSpurlock, Mr. Spurlock, I remember him. But I can't remember what my teacher was named.
ANNA: How far was the school from where you lived, did you still live in shotgunhollow when you started school?
TRUMAN: No. No we had moved to what was known as number two. Which was, ah, Idon't know why it was numbered, why it was called number two. Except it was the second road, I guess that's why they called it number two.
ANNA: Was it on, was that the only house on the road?5:00
TRUMAN: Oh no, no this was a row of company houses.
ANNA: Second road from where?
TRUMAN: Well from the main entrance to the mine.
ANNA: Could you see the mines from where you lived?
TRUMAN: I could see, we could see one entrance. This entrance wasn't used. Thismine, this section of the mines had been worked out. And the main entrance, you couldn't, it set high up in the mountain. You couldn't even see it from the road. You could see the incline, they called it.
ANNA: What was that?
TRUMAN: That's the, was the track that went up to the mines. They called it an6:00incline, I don't know why they called it an incline it was a big hill. You could see that. I can remember watching my uncle, he worked as a night watchman, he had a German shepherd dog I can remember watching him and the dog ride the little car at the incline.
ANNA: Was it a coal car or?
TRUMAN: No it was a car that the men rode but uh it had steps on it that made itlevel with, with the mountain so the men could stand on it and ride it up the mountain.
ANNA: You say it was your uncle, was that your daddy's brother? What was his name?
TRUMAN: It was my, it was my daddy's the older brother Ester. At one time there7:00was uh my dad and three brothers. Well his three brothers worked in the same coal mines. There was Ester, Avery, Roy and Daddy. And of those four Ester and Artie got their back broke, Avery was in a wheelchair. Ester couldn't do any hard work and Roy got run over by what they call a motor. Which is a coal cutting piece of equipment that run up on his right leg, I think it was, and disabled him. And Daddy didn't work in; Daddy didn't work in the mines too long after, after Roy got hurt that left him by himself.
ANNA: How long did your daddy work in the mines?
TRUMAN: Twenty-six years.
ANNA: Well how long did he work in the mines after you were born?
TRUMAN: Well we, he quite the mines in uh he quite the mines in 1944, and wemoved to Corbin, so he worked from 35 to 44 I think.
ANNA: So most of, most of your younger, younger years and you working in thecoal mine.
ANNA: About how far was it, you said you started school. About how far was it8:00from the school this number two when you were little?
TRUMAN: It was about maybe a mile.
ANNA: How did you get to school?
TRUMAN: Walked, didn't have no busses.
ANNA: Did you walk with anyone or did?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah there was a bunch of us kids walked together. I can I canremember some of their names. I know the Carter kids always walked with us, they were our next door neighbors. But I can't uh can't remember any. The Hensley kids and the Carter kids but that's about the only ones I remember.
ANNA: Could you just tell me like, ah, try to remember one certain day you knowyou get up and just tell me about your day when you were going to school in the mining camp.
TRUMAN: Well you'd just get up, we'd go to school. We'd always try to get there9:00early so we could play.
ANNA: What did you do?
TRUMAN: Just played silly games. Oh what was it. Oh I remember. Red rover, redrover we dare you over and all that stuff. And we'd have the school. Then we'd walk home. And if it was summer time and there was enough light after supper, we'd play. But most of the time most of our playing consisted or going out in the creek and hunting crawdads.
ANNA: Was there a creek close to the house?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah right behind the house.
ANNA: Did your mom ever worry about you playing in the creek?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. [unclear] one boy got his heel cut off from that and uh one10:00thing in particular happened. I was about, oh I guess, seven years old. And I seen a, the first man killed. I seen three killed from the time I was I can remember until we left up there. And I seen the first man killed there.
ANNA: What close to the creek?
TRUMAN: Right there, right uh right between the row of houses. He ah. We werehunting crawdads I can't remember, I don't know who was with us but ah, anyway a man come running out the back door and another man shot him.
ANNA: I never heard this story. Running out that back door of one of the houses?
TRUMAN: Yeah. Running out the back door and this guy come around the house with11:00the shotgun and I was standing there watching about 10 or 15 foot away. And I just stood there and watched while he got shot.
ANNA: Well what did you think when you saw this?
TRUMAN: I don't know why the only thing I can remember thinking was how loud theshotgun was.
ANNA: Did you run or what did you do?
TRUMAN: I run soon as I seen what happened I run. I didn't, ah I run home to12:00tell Momma and she went over, she went over there to see what happened. And what happened was the man who come home from work before he was supposed to and there was another man in the house. And when the man who come home from work he got out of his car come around to the back door with his shotgun instead of going in the front door and the other man made the mistake of coming out the back door instead of going out the front door. And he met a little buckshot coming out. I used to remember the name but I can't remember I can't remember any of the names right.
ANNA: Well you said you saw two other men get killed now was that about the sametime or?
TRUMAN: Well, no. One was later. One was while I was still we was living in13:00Shotgun Holler. I can just barely remember it. We, we were going somewhere, and uh just me and Daddy and we come down to, had a service station and we come down to get gas and we was sitting there. I don't remember if we finished getting gas or what, and there was a guy that was leaning, standing in the door leaning up against the door jam. Another guy pulled in a car and rolled his window down and shot him. Shot the guy in the door, and drove off. Nobody never did know why he did that. Because they worked together in in the mines. They weren't bad enemies or anything.
ANNA: Did most people have cars that worked in the mines?
TRUMAN: There were quite a few cars up there then, I know, I know we had one.And yeah I'd saw quite a few of them.
ANNA: What about the third guy that got killed?
TRUMAN: Third one I don't, I wasn't really old enough to realize what was going14:00on but they were in a fight. That was a knife fight. And I didn't even, I wasn't even old enough to know they was fighting. I didn't really even, didn't really even realize that anybody' been killed till I was older and Mommy and Daddy was telling me about it.
ANNA: Um. Well I think that made four because didn't you tell me about one timea guy you saw killed down in Harlan town?
TRUMAN: That wasn't that wasn't in Creech's though that was in Harlan.
ANNA: Um. But you were living in Creech's though?
TRUMAN: Yeah this was just before we left Creech's. [Truman coughs] The reason I15:00know is because my daddy bought a new Mercury and we went down to pick it up. And he let me go to the movie and when I come out of the movie I heard gunshots. And I wasn't, I come around the corner this policeman was on one side of the street and this guy was on another side the other side of the street and he was backed up against the wall with uh two guns like a western movie and he was , he was shooting at them and they was shooting him. And I stood there and watched.
ANNA: And where were you, how close were you?
TRUMAN: Oh I was about uh three quarters of a block away. I wasn't close enoughto get hurt and uh I remember the guy dying trying to get his boots off or his shoes off. I guess he'd heard you didn't want to die with your boots on.
ANNA: Did you did it seem like it was something real to you or more like?
TRUMAN: No. I'd just come from a western movie. It seemed like anything matterof fact I didn't tell Daddy till I got home. [laughter -- Anna perry]
ANNA: Was the, where was the closest movie, did you go to the movie a lot?
TRUMAN: They had a, they had a theater in this town, Wallins Creek but no wedidn't go to the movies that much.
ANNA: Was it because it was too far away or?16:00
TRUMAN: It was too far away. We couldn't, we couldn't walk and since Daddy wasthe only one driving and he worked all the time we never did get the chance.
ANNA: Did you see a lot of your dad when he was working in the mines?
TRUMAN: Only on Sundays. Because he went to work before we got up during theweek and he came home after we'd already gone to bed. Sundays was about thte only time we seen him.
ANNA: So you were with your Momma a lot more?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah, yeah. I can remember. In summer, summer we seen a we seen more17:00of him. But I can remember waiting on him for supper, and uh he was late, everybody else had come in from work and he was late. And uh tell Momma was worried but she wouldn't, she wouldn't say anything about it. When he come in he, he had something wrong with his back. I can't remember now, It seemed like they said he took a catch in it or something. He couldn't straighten up. But he was working in a place where he couldn't, uh he had to bend over and after he finished work he couldn't straighten up so he stopped by the doctors office.
ANNA: Did you have the company--doctor right there, was it a company doctor or aprivate doctor?
TRUMAN: No, no he was a company doctor, Doctor Paynter. I don't know how hespelled his name, Paynter but we just called him Doctor Paynter. But no they, they cut, they called it cut they cut Daddy through his, ah . . . through the company for it.
ANNA: Did you have stores?
TRUMAN: Yeah. Well we didn't call them stores we called them commissaries.
ANNA: Did you have a lot of them?
TRUMAN: Ah, in Creech's there was at one time there was two, I can only remember18:00one, but there was another one. I can remember it but it was closed. But ah, and lets see you had your commissary, you had your service station. And doctors office and that's, that's about all you had in Creech's.
ANNA: Do you remember about, about how many houses, I mean people there were?
TRUMAN: I'd say, I'd say it was probably, probably five, five hundred to seven19:00hundred, or something like that, people up there then. I, I heard I heard the way they talked, when Creech's first started there was a lot more but as the mine slowly worked out there was less and less people there.
ANNA: Did your momma ever send you to the store?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah, yeah I used to go to the store and get milk, bread, butter. Itake that back, never did get any milk, we had our own cow. We used to get bread though. We use to buy bread or salt, sugar, stuff like that.
ANNA: You had your own cow, did many did many of the miners have their own cowsand chickens and stuff?
TRUMAN: Ah, most of them did. Most of them had to have. Most of them raised20:00gardens too. And I can remember we used to; we used to always have a big garden. But you had to go out of the camp. The garden was usually on the outside of the camp. Everybody had their own little garden and after work they'd go out and work the garden and they'd raise what vegetables they could can.
ANNA: Did you ever play around the mine itself?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah I got caught.
ANNA: You got caught?
TRUMAN: I got caught. Me and this other boy, [laughing] T. J. Ashley, I neverwill forget him. We were riding the cars. We would walk into the mine and then ride the cars back out. And then if there was empty cars going in we'd ride them into the mines and catch a full one going out. Well one of the full one going out happened to have, Daddy was riding it.
ANNA: [laughing] Oh Lord.
TRUMAN: And I never did do that no more.
ANNA: So you weren't supposes to play in the mines?
TRUMAN: Oh no. Well now there wasn't no law said you couldn't, except Daddy's.21:00But the mine owners they didn't have no, I don't remember any warning signs posted. But there wasn't very many kids played in the mines.
ANNA: What did your dad do?
TRUMAN: Ah, I can't remember if he . . . I can't remember if he whipped me or ifhe gave me a good talking to. He probably whipped me. But ah I can't really remember.
ANNA: Did you always have toys or?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah we had uh. . . we had toys. A lot of lot of the kids didn't butI don't know if their parents were poor managers or what, but uh. I remember one thing, one thing we used to wait for. We used to wait for the train coming from Corbin.
TRUMAN: Because there was one engineer there that used to throw out Payday candy bars.22:00
ANNA: What he just tossed them out?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah to kids. We used to line up along the tracks he'd throw thecandy out. Didn't find out till after we'd moved to Corbin, there, that it was John Walker that did that.
ANNA: Oh what he just bought the candy bar to just throw out to you?
TRUMAN: Yeah, throw out to the kids.
ANNA: Was he coming like a big, big deal for you?
TRUMAN: A big deal for us, yeah. We didn't we didn't get that much candy.
ANNA: When uh did the commissary not carry much candy or?
TRUMAN: I can't remember the commissary now the commissary carried ah, cakes and23:00soft drinks, I can remember that. But I can't remember ah, candy.
ANNA: Candy bar. Did you--when you went to the commissary for your mom did youuse money?
TRUMAN: Sometimes. Sometimes you'd use what they called script.
ANNA: What's that?
TRUMAN: Script was where you, a miner would draw against his paycheck and they24:00would give him ah, almost like well, like slugs is what it looked like. But it was script and you could use this in the commissary but you have--I can remember we used to go the the bookkeeper and he would credit us so much money. My Dad's got pay receipts now where he would work for two weeks and maybe take home $2.75 where the rest of it would be taken up in scrip.
ANNA: So it was sort of like credit?
TRUMAN: It was credit. It was credit it was just their own way of doing it.Because as far as I, as far as I know the only place you could spend that scrip was the service station and commissary.
ANNA: Did, ah, did you make many trips like to the closest town? What was theclosest town?
TRUMAN: Once every two weeks.
ANNA: Did you, did your dad go once every two weeks or did you go once?
TRUMAN: Whole family went once every two weeks. That was the high light toobecause we went to this one store in Wallins Creek, and they always gave us a bag of candy. I guess because Daddy spent more money there.
ANNA: What did, did you do grocery shopping . . .
TRUMAN: Oh yeah.
ANNA: Or just clothes or?
TRUMAN: Well mostly the clothes buying you have to go to Harlan. Wallins Creek25:00didn't have that much. I can remember going to Harlan. Cause I can remember every time we went up there we always ate in a restaurant. Eating in a restaurant, my Dad liked bread and he would ask for it oh, two times. Maybe three times, then he'd be ashamed to ask for it so he'd always carry a loaf of bread.
ANNA: He took a loaf of bread into the restaurant?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. He laid it down beside of him in the booth, and eat the bread.
ANNA: You said something about something how many of your uncles got hurt in the mines?
TRUMAN: Two got their back broke. One of them was in a wheelchair. One of themcouldn't do any light work, or could only do light work.
ANNA: And what happened to them after they got hurt in the mines? Did they stay26:00there or did they move?
TRUMAN: Well one of them did. One of them was a night watchman the other onemoved. The other one moved to ah, McCreary County over where, closer to their homeplace where they was born.
ANNA: Where were they born?
TRUMAN: All of them were born over in McCreary County. I believe it was WhitleyCounty then, when they were born. But it changed later to McCreary County.
ANNA: Can you can you remember when either one of them got hurt?
TRUMAN: I can remember Roy, Roy is the only one I can remember. He got hurt just27:00before the just before we left. But Daddy didn't work; daddy didn't work very long at all after Roy got hurt. Because uh he got, well he always said he got scared. Because he was working uh third shift. And when the mine when you worked third shift you always hid your tools so that the next shift wouldn't use your tools. And he hid his tools and he never did go back after them. He told me later on, that he told me just before he died, we were up there and he said he would bet any amount of money anybody wanted to bet that those tools were right where he left them. And I asked him asked him why he didn't go back and get them. He said boy if I stepped one foot in that mine the whole top would come in.
ANNA: Is the mine still open?
TRUMAN: Uh no it's worked out, I think it's closed.
ANNA: Can you remember any of the games you used to play? Did you and yoursister do anything, how much what's the age difference between you and your sister?
TRUMAN: About three years.
ANNA: Is she older or younger?
TRUMAN: She's older.
ANNA: Did you play with her or did you play with the boys?28:00
TRUMAN: Well we uh played with her and ah, there was boys, there was always kids29:00there's always a whole bunch of kids around and uh so. When I was real young just me and her that's all I can remember but after we moved to number two there was more kids over there. And over in number two the houses were different over there, they were larger houses. And I uh guess that's where most of the large families were. And but uh after, after we lived in number two we uh, we moved to what's called. What they called it Calloway's house because Callaway, Callaway was the last one's who lived in it. There I can remember me and my sister we had a special game that ah,
INTERRUPTION TAPE MALFUNCTION
ANNA: An unrehearsed taped interview with [tape malfunction FEEDBACK NOISE]
ANNA: INTERVIEW WAS Conducted at Corbin Kentucky on the 26th of September at10:30 am.
TAPE TURNED OFF
ANNA: You were saying something about a special game you and your sister played?30:00
TRUMAN: Oh yeah we had this little cat and uh it was little it was a real youngcat, we used to play hide and seek with it and no matter where we hide, didn't make any difference, that little cat would find us. We used to have more fun out of that. I don't remember what we ever done to that cat but it [laughing] I can remember it sure had a nose for finding us.
ANNA: Was that the one that you were talking about one other time that used toget up on thte porch?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. It'd get up on the porch and every time we'd leave it would get31:00outside, it wouldn't go nowhere but it'd get out side. Cause we had a fence around to keep it in but it would jump the fence and just stay outside. I, I, don't, I know my dad sold it but I don't know how long we kept it or not.
ANNA: Were you ever sick when you were a kid, did you have to go to the doctor?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah I had I had all the childhood disease. The mumps, measles,whooping cough, we all had them. The doctor you could either go see him or he would if you were too sick he'd come out.
ANNA: Whooping cough can be pretty bad, were you just a baby when you had thator were you older?
TRUMAN: Oh I must, I was young, I can't remember it. But uh I can remember myMom saying that me and my sister both had it at the same time.
ANNA: I bet she liked that. What did you and, when you played with them with the32:00boys you played what, you said Red Rover?
TRUMAN: Oh we played that. We played all kinds of ball softball and uh one thingwe did we used to make, I don't know where we got them but we got metal wheels. And a pieces of wire and we'd make, make a like a little U in the piece of the wire, bend it and make a U. And you use that piece of wire to roll those little metal wheels. And I don't know where, the metal wheels was just little thin pieces of metal made into a loop. And I can remember we used to roll them, see how far we could roll them. I don't even know where they come from what they were called or anything else. But uh [clears throat]
ANNA: Did you have like playgrounds or swimming pools or anything like that?33:00
TRUMAN: Swimming pool consisted of the creek.
ANNA: Was it deep?
TRUMAN: In places it was because it had been dambed up. Most of the time it uh,most of the time [dog barking]
Tape turned off
ANNA: Did you learn to swim in that creek in the deep parts?
TRUMAN: Can't swim to this day cause none of it was never deep enough to swimin. I can't swim, my sister can't swim. Now my brothers can because they, they, when we moved to Corbin they learned to swim down here.
ANNA: Once before when we were talking you told me something about a somethingyou found in the creek or something you almost got drowned or? Do I have that right?
TRUMAN: No, I didn't--I stepped on a piece of barbed wire one time that went all34:00the way through my foot. And uh but that's the only thing that ever.
ANNA: This is something about finding a, some kind of a toy in the creek.
TRUMAN: Oh we used to find everything in the world in that creek. Because when35:00the creek got up. I don't know where the creek come from it might have come from Wallins Creek down through us, but I don't think so. But anyway we used to find wagon wheels. People, back then [unclear] when they had a wagon that they wanted to make a wheel they would make a wheel and they put a, they'd put the metal on it and then they would lay it in the creek and let the water swell the wood so it would stretch out to fit the metal. And we used to find all kinds of wagon wheels that had floated away. Usually people come after them cause they always put their name on them, or initial. And we usually knew who they were.
ANNA: How did they do that?
TRUMAN: They'd burn their name or initials, usually, usually initials they'dburn on them because most of. For some strange reason most everybody had initials, T. J. and they wouldn't use names.
ANNA: Did a lot of people still use wagons?
TRUMAN: Up there?
ANNA: Um hm.
TRUMAN: No most, most of the miners now they make they make good money. Afterthe unions come in I don't remember when. When Daddy first started working for the mines he, he was loading coal for 26 cents a ton.
ANNA: Just loading it or digging it?
TRUMAN: He had to blast it. He had to pay for his own powder. And uh dig it out,load it, and uh some of the funniest things that happened was ah. They had little tags and each man had his own number. And when he'd load a coal, or a car 36:00of coal he'd put his tag on it. Well the worst crime in the coal mines is somebody that would switch tags. In other words they would take your tag off and put mine on, And Daddy said one time he was going to work and he had stopped at the commissary for something and they had a cap pistol, and he said I was real young. So he bought me that cap pistol and he was taking it to work and he was going to give it to me when he got home. And he said him, he was sitting in the mines and him were eating and he was shooting that cap pistol. And him and this other guy got to talking what a noise it made and they looked down the uh hallway and they seen this guy coming and this guy, I can't remember what his name was but anyway. He was supposed to have been mean because he had killed two or three people. And daddy told this guy I'm going to pick a fight with this guy and I'm going to pull this gun and shoot him [laughter Anna] And Daddy said he 37:00come up and he said, he said I want to talk to you and the guy said 'what about' and Daddy said he said somebody told me that you have been changing or switching tags. And he said no, Raymond, he said he said 'no I wouldn't do that' and daddy said 'I tell you what' he said 'there ain't nothing makes any me madder than somebody that'd do that' and he said he said 'as a matter of fact' he said 'I think I'll just kill you'. And daddy said he just pulled out that shot gun the cap gun, just pulled it out and shot it. Daddy said the man just sunk down like he was dead [laughter -- Anna]
ANNA: He thought he'd been shot, huh?
TRUMAN: [laughing] He thought he'd been shot. There's a lot of funny things thathappened in the mines Daddy used to tell about. One time they dug into a section they considered haunted and everybody had seen things and they'd heard things. And eventually they ended up concreting over it, they didn't even work in that 38:00section. But while it was open. Again [laughing] Daddy and this other guy he worked with. They'd seen this guy coming down the hall and they turned they had carbide lights and they blew their lights out. And uh if you remind me I'll tell you something funny about that carbide too.
TRUMAN: But they had carbide lights, so they blew those lights out and they juststood beside the door, doorway. And as this guy walked through each one them just laid a hand on his shoulder. And they said he just sunk down. He said they liked to never brought him to. [laughing] They thought they'd killed him.
ANNA: [laughing] What'd they think he had a heart attack?
T; [laughing] Well they didn't care but.
ANNA: Well there's two thing, a door, was it a door like a door in a house?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. Well, the doorway, they would dig so far and then they would39:00brace it, real good. You know they put all the timbers. And it formed like a doorway. And that's, they called them they called them doorways so, actually what it was, was just heavily braced.
ANNA: You wanted me to remind you of that carbide.
TRUMAN: Oh yeah carbide.
ANNA: What is a carbide lamp?
TRUMAN: Carbide is a, miners back then, now, now they use electric lights but40:00back then they used a carbide lamps that hung on their hats. The hats, their hard hats were made with a holder in front and this lamp sit on the front and it used carbide and water and it had a little regulator on top that could regulate the amount of water and the amount of water that went down, when the water hits the carbide it forms gas. And the amount of water that goes through, more gas so the brighter the light. And Daddy used to, they used to have a flask that they carried the carbide in. And every morning before he went to work he'd set at the kitchen table and fill the flask up. And I was, oh I was real young just crawling around on the floor. And Mommy kept telling Daddy 'You're going to spill that and he's going to get a hold of it.' And sure enough he spilled it, sure enough I got a hold of it. And Mommy said I was foaming like a mad dog because I tried to eat it.[laughter]
ANNA: Did it burn your mouth or anything?
TRUMAN: If it did it didn't do any permanent damage.
ANNA: I bet it scared your mom to death.
TRUMAN: Oh it probably did.
ANNA: Is there, is there any particular Christmas from back then that you canremember from back then? Was Christmas special? More special than say after you moved to Corbin?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. It was then because uh the mine, the union, the union used to41:00buy fruit and candy and ah, well the food. A lot of food, hams stuff like that, turkeys. And they'd fix up bags. Huge bags, well to me it seemed like huge bags, I don't know how big they were. But uh and then they'd give them to the family and each kid. They knew, the union knew you know who had kids and their ages. Each kid would get a toy and they would they'd give trucks to the little boys, dolls for the girls. And those bags, I know everybody looked forward to getting those food bags, cause they'd bring them around to your door. The union would.
ANNA: Did you have Christmas--did you buy Christmas trees, or cut them, how didyou get Christmas trees?
TRUMAN: No, you cut them. You went out and cut them.42:00
ANNA: Did you buy store bought ornaments or?
TRUMAN: No you made those too.
ANNA: Can you remember how you made them, or?
TRUMAN: Well we, we used to hang everything in the world on them, but ah. Nowthe ropes, we called them ropes, I don't know, you don't see them anymore. But they had colored, different colored ropes. I remembered we used to have those that we put on the tree. And then we just hung whatever we could find.
ANNA: Did you get a lot of fruit, or was?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah.
ANNA: During the year?
TRUMAN: Ah, during summer yeah because the trucks used to come up selling43:00peaches and apples and stuff like that. Momma used to can oh she'd can 150, 200 quarts of peaches and fruit like that for the winter. Cause during the winter now there was no, no fresh produce.
ANNA: Did you go to church when you was a kid?
TRUMAN: No. Oh I forgot there, yeah, the church and school house were the samebuilding. And . . . everybody went to Sunday school and church, at least all the kids did. But again that was a chance for them to get together and play. [laughter Anna]
ANNA: And the church and the school was the same?
TRUMAN: Same building.
ANNA: Same building. Did your Dad ever get hurt, that you can remember? Was heever hurt in the mines?
TRUMAN: Oh, let's see. He got his nose broke. And now all this was before, yeahthis was this was before he got married. He got his nose broke and one time he was working in he called it they called it a room. He was working in a room and 44:00he had left his water bucket outside and he got real thirsty. And he just step to the door to get his water bucket and when he did the whole top set down and it caught his shoulder right, caught him right in the top of the shoulder. It just ripped skin and all off. The funny part of that was, my mother was a house keeper for the ah, company doctor at the time and his name was Percival, I never will forget that. I don't have the least idea how you spell it. But old Doc Percival, anyway he, the night before he'd been playing cards so he told my mom, now he said don't bother me. Well when my dad got hurt they had him laying down in the doctor's office trying to get the doctor down there and my mom wouldn't wake the doctor up. Or my mom to be [laughter Anna] wouldn't wake the doctor up. And daddy said they had him laying down there and he said if could have seen 45:00what the nurse was doing he couldn't have stood it. But he said she took a ball of cotton, oh he said, as big as his double hand, and soaked it in alcohol and started washing his back. He said he never had anything hurt so bad in all of his life as that. But that's the closes that he ever come to really getting hurt.
ANNA: Did, did you enjoy growing up in a mining camp?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. Yeah. Enjoyed it a lot more than. Enjoyed it a lot more than46:00you think after you get on your own and really start thinking about things that you seen and happened. You didn't, you didn't, you finally realize how much you did enjoy it.
ANNA: Did you realize that ah, living in the mining camp was a little differentthan say from the people in Wallins Creek or Harlan that owned their own homes or whatever?
TRUMAN: No. No if anything we thought we were better. Because uh mining campyou're closer, you're closer knit. And I can remember some of my cousins talking about when they were older, you know, if they got in a fight in Wallins Creek, well if there was anybody else from Creech's they were going to help them. I mean they were, you know they stuck together.
ANNA: Hm. Did you have a lot of relatives, you know, like you were talking about47:00cousins. Did you have a lot of cousins?
TRUMAN: Oh I had a bunch much cousins cause my dad and his two brothers marriedmy mom and her two sisters which created a whole bunch of double first cousins.
ANNA: Okay, okay your dad's name was Raymond and which two brothers?
TRUMAN: Ester and Avery were the two that got their back broke.
ANNA: Okay Raymond married Bonnie.
TRUMAN: Bonnie and Avery.
TRUMAN: Yeah all the wives were Hatmakers. Avery married Marry Hatmaker. AndEster married Sadie Hatmaker. And, yeah at one time I guess half the Creech's was Perry's.
ANNA: Did, did you all live close together?
TRUMAN: Oh yeah. We, ah. I can remember when we lived in Shotgun Holler, Avery48:00lived right across the street from us and Ester lived in a, he lived down on the end of the holler going towards the commissary he lived he lived down there. And Roy now Roy lived at the other end of town. He lived the farthest away. But it, it seemed like the double first cousins were always closer than the other cousins.
ANNA: Were you were you close in age? Did you play together a lot of the time?
TRUMAN: No. No, we were uh mommy and Daddy were the two youngest of the Perry's49:00and the Hatmakers so uh when the kids come along with me and my sister, when we come along we were the babies of the whole clan. I can remember telling me that one of my first cousins used to come over and get me when I was 18 months old and take me over to his house and spend the night. I can't remember it, my sister can because she used to have to set up with me until he come home from a date. He used to take me on dates with him too. He used to get me to ask his dates the funniest things.
ANNA: Like what?
TRUMAN: Like how big her breasts were.
ANNA: Is that what you said, how big . . .
TRUMAN: I remember that. That . . .
ANNA: Is that what you said?
TRUMAN: No, that's not what I said.
ANNA: What did you say?
TRUMAN: He told me to ask her how come she had such big titties. And that's whatI did.
ANNA: Well, where you by yourself? Just, just you and what . . .
TRUMAN: No we were . . .
ANNA: What cousin was this? What was his name?
TRUMAN: His name was Robby. Man, we were in the restaurant in Wallins, inWallins Creek and she was the waitress and he got me to ask that. And I didn't, I knew, I knew what they were but I was breast fed, I knew what they were.
TRUMAN: But I didn't know why he found it so funny when I asked her. But that's50:00. . .
ANNA: But did the older cousins, did they sort of look after you? It sounds likethey must have . . .
TRUMAN: Oh yeah, yeah they, they, they took care of us when, when Rowdy and his51:00brother EC come back from World War II, we hadn't had any toys of any kind for, during World War II but I think I think it was EC that brought me a big bag of uh toys, rubber tanks and soldiers and all that. I guess there's hundreds of them, I don't know where he got them but I know Rowdy, Rowdy brought them, he bought them, my mother a watch that was a necklace like that he had liberated from Germany as he, as he come through. I can remember that.
ANNA: Did, did any of your other cousins, did any of them start working in themines while you were still up there?
TRUMAN: Rowdy did, I know Rowdy did, I, I, EC I'm pretty sure probably did toobecause he was older than Rowdy. And I know Rowdy did. Yeah, he worked to, he worked a couple of years before he went into the Army.
ANNA: You was talking about your dad coming and you could remember your dadcoming home and having coal soot all over him, dust all over him. What did you, did you, did that seem strange to you, where you ever afraid of him or anything or was that just normal?
TRUMAN: Why no. He was daddy. To, to any kid in a mining camp, that's normal.52:00Because in the evenings in summer when you see that all the men come in, they all look like that. So that', that's, I guess, it would have really been, it would have really impressed me if he hadn't done it, come in looking dirty like that. But that's just something that, because I can remember mommy always kept a, well in summer, she always kept a little wash pan and water outside the door. He would wash up before he come in the house.
ANNA: Did you have running water?
TRUMAN: Yeah, in the creek.
TRUMAN: Naw, we had wells. Well, no, I'll take that back now. In, strangely53:00enough, in Shotgun Holler they had a well, err I mean they had running water because they had a pump. Now whether this pump come from running water or whether it was in a well, I don't know. Now, Calloway's house, the last place we lived, we had our own pump and our own well and number two you had a little, it was a hydrant out in front which I think must have been running water because it wasn't a pump.
ANNA: Yeah. How'd you take a bath?
TRUMAN: In a washtub.
ANNA: Did, In a washtub?
TRUMAN: Yeah, number three washtub.
ANNA: Did you take a bath every day?
TRUMAN: No. Took a bath just uh as little as we could get a way with.
TRUMAN: But now then mommy always washed us and, but as far as taking a bath, we54:00take a bath like once a week. Usually, usually on Saturday we'd take a bath because Sundays was more like a holiday but that's, that's the only time we ever got, we always knew daddy would be home. And me and my sister, I can remember getting up, I can remember getting up at Sunday mornings and going in to eat and uh daddy would have, well, we called them butter pies, biscuits with butter on them, he'd have them in her plate and that was, that was a big meal because breakfast on Sunday morning was always the big meal.
ANNA: [unclear] What, like what, what did you have?
TRUMAN: Well, most of the time was, daddy raised his own hogs and stuff. Henever did, he didn't, he didn't go in for pork chops, he just took the tenderloin out and I can remember him slicing up, frying up and, and that he'd fry that for breakfast, that wasn't for dinner or supper.
ANNA: Your daddy fried it?55:00
TRUMAN: Usually. He, he fried it and he sliced it and everything. And . . .
ANNA: And what did you have with it? You had tenderloin and biscuit . . .
TRUMAN: Eggs, gravy, and um mommy used to fry up a big platter of eggs and madegravy and she used to make syrup.
ANNA: Make syrup?
TRUMAN: Make syrup. She'd, I gue--I don't know, I don't know how she done it.With sugar I guess. But she'd make syrup because that's where all of us got in a habit of eating something sweet with uh, with our meal.
ANNA: With, [unclear] with your meal. While you're eating the rest of it.
TRUMAN: Right. Right. We, we don't eat dessert. If there's anything sweet we eatthat with, with, well even right now we do that.
ANNA: And that's where it comes from?
TRUMAN: That's, that's where it comes from. Because daddy liked something sweet,56:00you know, with his meal and we got in a habit of it. So if, if there was a dessert it was on the table with the meal. And that's how we ate it.
ANNA: You don't remember much about school up there?
TRUMAN: No, not really because I, like I say, I only went through the, the57:00second grade up there. I started late because my birthday was in October and they wouldn't, they wouldn't let, they wouldn't let me start because I was I wasn't six in September. I would be six in October so I had to wait until next year. I was seven years old actually before I started, started school. And I don't, I don't remember uh, I don't remember too much about the school. I can remember the school and I can remember the fact that my, my sister's teacher got killed. She was, uh let's see, let's see how was it. There was, there was this guy in prison. She'd been writing to him. And he had got the impression that uh she liked him. And she had a boyfriend from Creech's so when this guy got out of prison he came to Creech's, he killed her, he killed her boyfriend and he killed himself. And the thing that made it uh, what I remember, is the fact that they found them all on a nine by twelve rug. They were all just laying so just, must have been side by side. But that, that was my sister's teacher now.
ANNA: What, what's the strongest memory you have of Creech's?
TRUMAN: The strongest memory . . .
ANNA: The thing you always think about when you think about Creech's?
TRUMAN: I guess standing by the railroad track waiting for candy. Yeah.58:00
ANNA: Did, did the train mean anything to you or just, just the candy?
TRUMAN: Just the candy. I'd, I've, we'd seen trains. So uh . . .
ANNA: Well listen. I want; I want to thank you again for giving me this interview.
TRUMAN: You're welcome.
ANNA: And I really do appreciate this. I enjoyed hearing you talk about it.
END OF INTERVIEW