Charles Moore 255

Interview with Charles Moore by John Dodson 9/9/99. (narration by Daniel Mullins)

My father and his brothers had started back during the depression, and, and a, but I grew up on stories about the bus line, all though we didn’t have a, much information, as far as pictures. My father put me to bed, and, and tell stories about driving the bus from here to Bluefield, or from Wytheville to Bluefield. Well, The way that I remember my father telling about it, he and his brother’s a, went down to Richmond to the State Corporation Commission and applied for a, a bus route, and started a bus route, the roads were all unpaved, umm, through Bland County at that time. It was a, I think right at the beginning of the Depression, or right during the Depression. And a, they got a charter as I understand it and it went from Wytheville to Bluefield, and went through Bland County. A, they a, had a nine passenger Studibaker touring car, which was actually the bus. And a, one of the stories that, that a, wasn’t too much of a story, but one of the things that came out of it.
There was a Mister Guy Niece on a, the south side of Walker Mountain, he had a team of horses and when the road was so muddy, why, he’d hook the team of horses and pull him up the mountain, and then he could come down on the Bland side. Mr. Scott had a team of oxen on the Bland side, and would pull him up to the top of the mountain going toward Wytheville. A, a, but the roads then unpaved, why, he said that he would, had watermarks on the trees. There weren’t any bridges either, and he would come up a lot of the times to the creeks where it would be Walker Creek, or Clear Fork, or any of the various creeks, and if the creeks was up too high, why, he wouldn’t try to ford it. If it wasn’t above the watermark, but still pretty high, he’d get out and he had a combination of, of umm burlap a, sacks, and, and twine and so fourth and he’d get out and, and take his fan belt off and wrap the sacks around the spark plugs and the coil, and distributor, and a put something over the air intake and go through the creek. He said many a time that he’d come up and there’d be some other vehicles stopped beside him, whether to go through and that he’d prepare the bus and drive through, and they’d see him drive through, and they’d jump in their vehicles and start through without doing any preparation and drowned out, and said lot of times why he made as much money pulling people out and them paying him, tipping him as they would on bus fares. He always carried a chain as well, a, a long with it. A, things still pretty ruff in those days, and one day he started up Big Walker Mountain, a and a the rule of the road was, if you were going up the mountain why, you got to stay on the crown of the road. The man coming down the mountain got off in the ditch a if it was a muddy road, and then you stopped if he had any trouble getting out of the ditch and you’d help him get back in the crown of the road and go on. A, said one day he was going up the mountain and just had one passenger on, and said he got a, a stretch going up Big Walker there that straightens out a little bit, and you can see pretty far up the road and he saw this vehicle coming down the road so he didn’t know if they knew anything about what was the normal customs, so he got in a straight stretch still on the crown of the road where he could start out pretty messy in the winter time and he a, got out and started walking up the road a to see if they had pulled off and a couple of fellows that were drinking pretty heavy and a they hollered at him get out of the road fellow we gonna, go on down by. And he said well, said I was just going to ask you to, to see if you’d let me by and then I’d help yawl get back in and they said, awe said, get out of the road before we whip you. And he got a little bit worried and started easing back toward the bus, afraid to take his eyes off of ‘em, but he noticed that their eyes were getting bigger, and he looked back over his shoulder and said this one fellow that had been sitting’ on the bus had gotten of and had two big, six, six gun, six guns strapped to his side. Said driver, you need any help? And, and said, said those fellows said, said, said gnaw he doesn’t need any help, we gonna get off the road and let yawl by and said, said don’t even bother to help, said we can get back in the road ourselves. So a, the road pretty much follow 21, 52? Pretty much a, they just pretty well paved it over. They had a lot of convict labor building that road. And a, at the time before they sold the bus line out why they had a, a camp in Bastian. They had tents set up, and they had a, cots and there was a metal pipe set in concrete down through the center of the tent. And they’d bring the convicts in, and take the, they could unlock from the ball that was locked to their foot. And they’d take that chain and lock it to that center pipe. And feed the fellows in the tent there. And my father said that, said that he always made a habit. Said they’d help him out any way they could when he was coming over the mountain, and so he’d always made a habit to come over there at Christmas and bring them a pack of cigarettes, and some candy, and so fourth things that they didn’t get, and, and he go through the tent to see that every body, every body got one of those things. He said those fellows have a pretty hard time of it, and they would drill the holes and shoot it and all of that work was done by hands. A, and when they’d be, sometimes when a fellow was, was getting awful tired of his work or needed, felt like he needed to get off he’d go to tamp, and that charge in there and they’d tamp it. Just a little bit hard sometimes and it would cause it to go off, and they wouldn’t have too much of a charge in the whole. Then the rod firing through the man’s hand would blister his hands and they would have to get him off from work, on the road. Said, said he’d seen that a, fellow do that some several times there. And said that rod would go plum out of sight. Said you couldn’t even see the rod when it would fire up through the sky like that. He a, they, they traveled every day no matter the weather and he said that, that a quite often that the roads would have such bad ruts in them and they would freeze that he would wear a tire out in the side wall before he would start out with a new tire and they were worn out before you’d get to Bluefield. Where the rut, frozen rut would wear the sidewall out of the tire, and he’d have to change the tire on the way. Of course everybody, everybody that drove back then drove those vehicles they knew how to get off and patch a tire and pump it back up. And start out again, he went into the station at Bluefield was, was down at the foot of Bland Street, and before it turns up to the hospital over there I think it’s a, I want to say St. Luke. I don, I don’t really know, and but there’s fairly long sloping hill not real steep going down to the old bus station. And a, he started down that hill one time, and he touched his breaks to see if he’d be able to stop. It snowing, and then in freezing rain and deposited on top of the snow, and when he did why, the break locked up on him one of the wheels, causing the bus to start in a slow revolving circle going down the hill. And he said there was a fellow came across the street, or starting across the street just above the bus station. And said that fellow looked up and saw that bus coming and his feet were sliding out from underneath of him and he was barely able to make it, and he just froze when he saw the bus coming toward him. Said that bus just slowly turned around and just rotated right around the man and stopped down in front of the bus station just the way it was suppose to be going missed the man all together. And said a fellow, said hot dog said that’s the best bit of driving I ever saw telling my father there father said he didn’t do anything but just set there and hold the steering wheel and hope nothing would happen. Fellow had tipped him five dollars and that was the fare from back then from Wytheville to Bluefield. That was a lot of money. They called the bus line the Moore Brother’s. They sold the bus line out to a, Campbell City and I was sitting here talking, trying to think there’s a man up here that lived up near Red Oak Church that went with them. I want to call him a Mr. Tickle, and I’m sure that’s the right name. A little research, or a little talking to somebody and I think I could find out for sure. I wasn’t prepared for this. He went with, they sold a bus to Campbell City and, and Work Tickle, that’s his name, Work Tickle. A, went with them and said that, that bus, they drove that bus even back then well over a million miles, which that was quit a, quite a bit of running for a vehicle in that days time. Yeah, ruff mileage. A, and, and Mr. Tickle went on with the other bus line which then later became Gray Hound. A, all together a, but as I, as I, as I remember what my father told me, why, Mr. Tickle went on and drove for them, and then later I think for Gray Hound. A, on it but he was, he was one of them that started out with then as one of their mechanics. A, to keep the bus running of course all the vehicles back then you, you worked on them it seemed like almost as much as you ran them, on them. But they took great pride in you know, even back then being a bus line trying to, to be there when you were suppose to be there. they did it all in one day went to Blufield and came back. They’d go to Bluefield and come back all in the same day and they had it scheduled when they would a, meet at various places. A, Mr. Dow Davis up here has got a building standing on his place there where he still lives. A, that was one of the places that they stopped it was a little, little store and a, and they would stop. People would leave off a, message to pick up thread, or a pharmaceuticals, or just various things that, that they couldn’t a, a get. Sometimes it would be something down here at Bland; sometimes it would be picked up at Bluefield. And, my father said that of all the things he bought that that a no body ever beat him out of a penny. He’d buy, comeback, leave a ticket, and pick the money up the next trip. A said people were as honest as they can be, and paid everything. A, he never worried about buying something for somebody over through here, and, and being paid for it. A, he a, he a, a gosh, slipped my mind there. I was going to think of one other thing there that a, was somewhat interesting about it, but a, places like that. I know he stopped at Bruce’s Store, a, or maybe it was called Bruce’s Station. But over at Bastian, a, a and he got to know an awful lot of people, and he later went into the lumber business, and a lot of people from Bland came over and traded with him at the lumber business because of that. I know what the other thing was… It was during prohibition, and he was coming back from Bland to Wytheville one day, and a, a man wanted him to take a, a quart of moonshine back to Wytheville, and he told him, he said, ah, he said I ah, I can’t do that. Said, just as sure as the world, the sheriff will stop me on the way. And a, the fellow said ah, they ain’t going to stop a bus, said here, take this over there. He wanted him to take it over to a man at Wytheville, never did say who gave him the moonshine, never did say who, who he was going to, but said, got over into Stony Fork, right where the gap of the mountain is real close, right in there about where a, a, the park is over there, and said the sheriff was setting there beside the road. My fathers name was Brent>>>>>, said he pull, pull down through there and the sheriff waved at him to stop there, and so he pulled up and he said how much moonshine are you carrying today Moore? He said nothing but this quart between my feet. Sheriff said, ah, quit fooling me and get down the road. Ha, ha…

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