Nate Charlton

Nate is interviewed by John Dodson in his home on November 29, 1999.

This interview is an edited version of work done as part of a cultural attachment study conducted by Dr. Melinda Wagner of Radford University. The study was part of an effort by the people and government of Bland County to fight the location of an AEP 765 Kv power line through the County.

John: I’m interviewing Nate Charleton and it’s November 29, 1999. Nate could you give me your birthday?

Nate: July 12, 1918

John: Ok, and what’s your occupation?

Nate: I’m I ain’t got no occupation. I’m retired.

John: You’re retired. That’s the best kind of occupation.

Nate: Uh-huh.

John: How long have you lived here?

Nate: All my life.

John: Ok, um, now have you ever lived away from here for a short period of time or…

Nate: I did in the army.

John: …when you were serving, when you were in the army?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Ok.

Nate: And I worked on the railroad I stayed away…

John: Alright.

Nate: …but this has been my home all my life.

John: Alright, why did you decide to, to move back when you were livin’ away?

Nate: I wasn’t livin’ away I was just, I was in the army, and on the railroad we had camp cars…

John: Uh-huh

Nate: …we stayed in through the weekday worked there and stayed through the week and then we come home on the weekend.

John: Ok, so you all, this is really always been your home.

Nate: Yeah.

The Charlton and the Sea Family

John: How did your family come to get this land?

Nate: I don’t know. Daddy said he paid fifty cents a day. Fifty cent an acre for this land. That’s what he said.

John: Uh-h do you know who he bought it from?

Nate: No, I don’t, unless it was that man over there. I don’t know. Johnny Sea.

John: Ok, it was, it was, it was a Sea…

Nate: Yeah.

John: …you bought it from?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Ok, um, now he used, Sea used to live across the road here?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Ok, the house is gone I guess, now isn’t it?

Nate: Yeah, it’s gone. It’s a graveyard. They bought that and my people, Hogan Ferguson bought that from the Seas. Sea use to own all this around through here I guess.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Whatever happened to the Seas? Do you know?

Nate: They died.

John: They just died?

Nate: Yeah, he’s buried up on the hill.

John: He is?

Nate: Yeah, he was daddy’s brother-in-law.

John: Ok.

Nate: He was married to Daddy’s sister.

John: Ok. Alright, I didn’t know that.

Nate: Yep.

Nate's Grandfather

John: Alright. That’s good to know. Ok, um, so your father was the first generation to live here? But didn’t, didn’t your grandfather live here too some?

Nate: My grandfather, he stayed down there next to the church. He never did have a home.

John: Ok.

Nate: He just from one place to another.

John: Alright. Do you know where, do you know where your, where your grandfather was from or, I mean where’d they move, where they lived before they moved here or…

Nate: We lived over…

John: …where he was raised?

Nate: He stayed with white folks all the time and he, he lived down there next to Nate’s and Frankie’s place. They had a house down there.

John: Uh-huh

Nate: Then he, after he left from down there his son-in-law bought this here lot down here where the church is at.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: He come there and that’s where he died.

John: Ok.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Alright, so he lived, he lived there with your, with his, …

Nate: No, he stayed by himself even when remarried.

John: Ooohhh.

Nate: Yeah, he remarried. He stayed there by hisself when I wadn’t down there with him. Granddaddy. Yeah.

John: Yeah, your granddaddy.

Nate: Uh-huh.

John: Ok, um, how many members of your family life nearby?

Nate: How many members…

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: …was here? Eight. Which uh…

John: How many live around here now?

Nate: Let’s see sister and brother, Vylee, Eveline, myself.

John: Ok, and you got nephews and…

Nate: Yeah, they out there.

John: Ok.

Nate: Yeah.

The Charlton Land

John: Um, alright, now I’m gonna ask you some questions to describe the land, ok? Now, if you’re going to show me your place, alright, where would take me and what would you show me? Alright? Or what’s your favorite spot on your family’s land here?

Nate: Well, we already got it. Been run off. That’s my oldest brother, this is my sister right here, and mine comes right up the side there, and my sister Sadies’ right out there, and then Vylee and Gladys is up on the upper end. It’s…

John: Ok.

Nate: …been run off.

John: Ok, so you had it surveyed?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Well, what’s your, what is your favorite, what’s your favorite place on this, um, on, on your land here?

Nate: The one I got.

John: Alright.

Nate: Place I got.

John: Yeah, well, when you were a boy and you were growing up here, did you have, have places, favorite places you liked to go and play, or…

Nate: Yeah, oh, yeah, all up and down the road.

John: Ok.

Nate: But it, it wouldn’t be around here. We didn’t go no places too much and, like the boys go now, see then people didn’t allow it, we’d go down at the schoolhouse and play by the schoolhouse right down there.

John: Right.

Nate: You go down there and play.

The Rocky House and the Low Gap

John: Um, if I were new in the county and I had seen your place, I’ve been up here, and, and I wanted to see some of the rest of the, of the, of, of Bland County, where would you take me?

Nate: Well, if you just wanna be sightseeing…

John: Yeah.

Nate: …take you right back up there at that rock, what we call a rockhouse, it’s a big cave right back up there, and then we’d go up here and go up that road, get on top of the mountain, if the leaves is off, I can show you the courthouse, jailhouse over there in Princeton, I can show you, Augusta and I can show you… something…

John: You can see all…

Nate: …and the train, right on top of the mountain.

John: Yeah.

Nate: That’s where we use to go to take people when you got sick. Carry ‘em across there.

John: Carry ‘em across that mountain?

Nate: Yeah, and take ‘em to Princeton.

John: To Prince, have to…

Nate: Because we had to go.

John: …go all the way to Princeton.

Nate: Yes, the only way to get there.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah, carry ‘em across, now there was one man, he died up there on that mountain.

John: Really?

Nate: Yeah. We carried this white lady, no, we didn’t we carried her across the mountain. They had a way out from in here then, but Fred Saunders’ daddy, we carried him across that mountain.

John: Ok, Pal?

Nate: Yeah, and a schoolteacher, we use to have down here she was teaching school.

John: Uh-hum.

Nate: Carried her across there.

John: They, they was a, a stretcher or something they would carry ‘em?

Nate: They had a little old cart.

John: Cart.

Nate: A little ‘ole something like, little old bed.

John: Uh-hum.

Nate: Yeah, they’d put ‘em in there and four men would get on each side and carry ‘em across it. That was the only thing we had.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

John: I bet that was it, well tell me about the rock house up there. What…

Nate: Well, it…

John: …what, what exactly is that?

Nate: It’s just a big cave back in there. Sand…top. It’s smooth, sandtop.

John: Uh-hum.

Nate: I guess you could get ‘bout three or four jeeps back in there, just about big as this here.

John: Yeah, did ya’ll use to go up there when you were young?

Nate: Yeah, I ain’t been up there, I’m 82 and I ain’t been there but about twice cause I ain’t seen nothing in it.

John: Yeah.

Nate: I was up there once, dogs were up there treed and I thought they were digging out chestnuts, and there was acorns and I run up there and knocked a hole in my head. I ain’t wanted to go up there.

John and Nate: Ha, ha, ha

Pond Mountain and the Pland Crash

John: Ok, um, if you had a day when you could do anything you wanted to and nothing needed to get done, where would you go and how would you describe this place to someone who can go there? How do, you know, how do you spend your time back here on your own?

Nate: Well, if I wanted to go someplace anytime, in the daylight, I’d go back yonder to the head of the creek where I use to work.

John: Ok, well tell me about that.

Nate: I use to go back there, I used to work with Jessie Pruney, back there and around the ridges back there you can look and see down and over in, in, Glenlynn.

John: Ok, is that, that, is that past the, um, the, the pond up there?

Nate: It’s on this side of the pond. It road goes on this side. That’s a good place to go to cause you can go up this here road where that airplane fell…

John: Uh-hum.

Nate: …and you go back there. They, they say you can see 5 states, but you can’t see nothing but the mountains, but they said, they got a big, rock back there with, something in it and it’s against the law to, to bother it, where people put back there.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Do you remember when that, when the airplane crashed?

Nate: I was in the army.

John: Ok.

Nate: Yeah.

John: So that was during the…

Nate: During the war.

John: …during the war.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Alright.

Nate: They brought it up down this a way.

John: Yeah that’s where…

Nate: I was up there, I was here when the little one fell, it was a little one fell back there, and it’s men got out of it and walked.

John: Oh, did he?

Nate: Walked down Wolf Creek, yeah. I seen people going back there, they didn’t tell what would happen, and they brought it out down there, you know, them little ‘ole bitty called aviator planes…

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: Two wanted to ride in.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

John: How long ago was that?

Nate: That there was back in forty something two.

John: Ok.

Nate: And it was a small plane.

*note:There was a large plane that crashed at the head of Dry Fork during WWII. There was a small plane that crashed later.

Working on the Railroad

John: Right, so you just worked back there logging, or work at a saw mill, or…

Nate: Yeah, cutting timber. Cut props and logs too.

John: Yeah. That’s some work.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Um, when you were working, before you retired, I guess you did commute to work when you were working on the railroad didn’t you?

Nate: Yes.

John: How, how far off would ya, how far would ya’ll go on jobs?

Nate: We go to, I worked in Portsmouth for awhile and dips away in Norfolk for awhile, I mean Norfolk…

John and Nate: Virginia

John: You’d be that, you’d go that, you’d be gone all week and…

Nate: Yeah.

John: Now, you would, you would live in a car on the train?

Nate: …they had cars and, they would board it up to make bunk beds. Two, one on the bottom and one on top over there, same thing here let’s see, two, four, six, eight stay in one car. Big ‘ole stove. It was fun.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

John: And how would, how would they do to feed ya’ll?

Nate: They had a camp car, they had a car with, dining, with tables in it…

John: Yeah.

Nate: …and, they had a cook that was, that was a, a kitchen, commissary at one of the doors.

John: And it was pretty good, um, pretty good food?

Nate: Yeah, bla, bla, black down they, a white paid more than a black cause they got better food, they left us some, if we wanted, they’d feed us the same as they fed them but, some of ‘em didn’t want it. They said they wanted to eat what they’d been eating. Well, they’d give it to, the, the white would eat beans, potatoes, stuff like that, but it, it just fixed different didn’t even have no eggs. They’d have eggs for breakfast, ham, something like that, but now dinner and stuff they eat the same we eat.

John: Well, what would ya’ll have for breakfast?

Nate: We’d have, sometimes bacon and fried potatoes.

Making a Garden

John: Yeah, alright, how much time do you spend caring for your land, here? I mean do you have a garden…or?

John: What, what kind a, what kind of things do you grow in your garden, Nate?

Nate: Anything that I can grow. Beans, biggest thing, beans, potatoes, cabbage, onion, I don’t grow too many, much peas, cause then my sister there don’t like it. I like ‘em though.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Beets, them people up here been wanting to come from everywhere and wanting to know who is that got, raise them beets. I guess we all do ‘em just about.

John: Alright. Um, so what do you do with all, everything you grow in your garden? I guess, you, like you say, you trade it to people and you give it to people.

Nate: I give it. I don’t sell nothing.

John: Alright.

Nate: I wouldn’t, I turned down a lot of money and then yet, a guy come up here and ask me did sell him something, I said, "I’m not gonna sell you nothing," I said, "I might give it to you," I said, "Now, if you wanna donate me something for it, sure." I said, "You can do that." Frankies down the road, Eveline, Frankie live right down there in that big white house.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: They got a new house down there now. She give me 25 dollars for a bushel of beans. Evelyn give me, Nina, Naktoe lady give me 25 dollars. I turned in a lot of money.

John: Yeah.

Nate: One come down here and just dumped his pockets, said, "I don’t know how much change this is," said, "you can have it." I got food in there now stacked from the floor to the top, in there, you can see right now.

John: Canned?

Nate: Yeah.

John: That you canned?

Nate: Yeah.

John: And so, all the money you got you, you gave it to the church?

Nate: Yeah.

Moonshine Stories

John: Yeah. Um, do you have any favorite stories that you would like to tell?

Nate: No.

John: Oh, you’ve got some stories now.

Nate: No.

John: Well, let me ask you about something. I’ve been, I’ve been getting some stories, do you remember when there was a little bit of moonshining up here?

Nate: (laughs) Yeah, I remember that.

John: Do you?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Well, where, I mean I’ve heard an awful lot. I just, I mean, do you remember well what do, do you remember when they, when they use to, someone told me they had a community, had two stills, one was a community still and one was, one for this guy in Bluefield or Princeton or do you remember anything about that?

Nate: Yeah, I made liquor for him.

John: Did you work for him?

Nate: Sure. Stayed in the mountains, me and a boy called Arch Saunders. Right back yonder on that mountain.

John: Arch?

Nate: Arch Saunders.

John: Ok, this, would this be Pal’s brother?

Nate: That’s Pal’s uncle…

John: Oh, ok

Nate: ...He ain’t been very long died.

John: Ok.

Nate: Yeah. Made liquor for him. Yeah.

John: You did? And ya’ll, well tell, where, where about, whereabouts was it up there?

Nate: Right up around that mountain up there. He had a still was as big as a, a pickup truck. About as big as a bed on a big pickup truck, and the you know anything about liquor?

John: I know a little bit.

Nate: Well, he had a, he had a 60 gallon barrel for a dumper, for a cap. You know how big it was?

John: That’s pretty big.

Nate: Yeah, I got down inside of it and cleaned it out. I could run a hundred-gallon in the day, and my buddy would take over at night. He run it a hundred at night.

John: So, it ran, it ran continuously?

Nate: Yeah, oh yeah, keeps fire under it.

John: Right.

Nate: Seal it up so it won’t lose no steam. He had a cream separator at, for a worm, the worm go around and around.

John: Uh-hum.

Nate: That’s how big it was, and you know how much it could pour out the liquor.

John: It was pretty, was it pretty good whiskey?

Nate: Shucks, it had to be. That man wadn’t nothing but a, he was a perfectionist.

Sack Daddy

John: Was he?

Nate: Yes, sir.

John: What, what was his name?

Nate: Um, we, Old Man Hunt.

John: Old Man Hunt.

Nate: Yeah.

John: He lived in Bluefield or?

Nate: No, he was in Princeton when they got him. He was right down here at Hectors. Hector wadn’t living. He was right there at Hectors, right, where his aunt got that house there.

John: Right. The old…

Nate: Got a still right up there, and it had a, a still that you, built a fire under then had another one over there run by steam. Goes from here over to there, and when you got him he had 22 hogs up there. I know, I was down there. Twenty-two hogs and…

John: And he was feeding, he was feeding the mash, he…

Nate: Yeah that’s what he…

John: was feeding the mash to the hogs?

Nate: …that’s what he made our bread out of, mash. He made our bread out of mash, I stayed up in there for a month before I come out. He bought us shoes, give us a dollar a day, bought us shoes, and all the liquor you could drink, you didn’t want no liquor when you was working around a still.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah, and then, he got caught down here and um, my, that law up Laurel, Akers, he had one finger and he couldn’t hear, and it was Gibson and Gibson’s boy, Aker's son, oh, it was a bunch of ‘em. They got him, they walked right in on him, and we went up there for awhile, they had him. I, I wadn’t up there when they had him but when they told him, these other laws told him, they was all getting liquor up there. He was giving everybody liquor. Laws the law, he was giving it to the law. All but this old man, this old man he, see, he wanted him, and they told him said, "Now, when you, you go down there and go burn that place up," said, "We’re turning you loose, you run over that hill then we’ll start to shooting." So he went down there and went to setting fire to burn the still up, they turned him loose and he went right over there to the Tyne’s house right across the creek.

John: To, to Jack Tyne’s house there, A.J.?

Nate: Yeah, he went over there cause a lot of Tynes living and I went over there to where he was at and he asked me if I’ve got his false teeth, and and a, a brown suit that he had. That was his little building that he set in and when I told him I said, "Yeah, they’ve gone." He said, "Come on, let’s go back up there." You been back up there to where his little house he stayed in, he just pulled up a flat rock, pulled out a jar of money like that, he said, "The hell with that still," said, "I got what I want." Yeah.

John: And so then he…

Nate: And then, and then, when he, he was all over this place, he be right up here in the woods when he couldn’t get sugar, he made syr, liquor out of syrup. I wadn’t here, and he got caught and so he went to prison, and they told him if he ever come back that was his, that was all he ever done, that if he ever come back said he would gonna give him life, and when he got caught over here at Princeton he, he had him a white girl he was living with when he was, going to jail it was a big Popular tree there he run into it and killed hisself.

John: This is Hunt?

Nate: Hunt, Mr. Hunt. Yeah.

John: Mr. Hunt.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Alright, now he, you said he made, he made it out of syrup, you mean molasses?

Nate: He used it. Yeah.

John: Made it out of molasses, cane molasses that you…

Nate: Yeah, he used syrup.

John: Well, what kind of whiskey would that be I wonder, I never…

Nate: I don’t know. I didn’t drink none of that. I wadn’t here, I was in the army.

John: Yeah.

Nate: But now he made it, he made it all over here. He was selling a nickel for 25 cents a pint.

John: Ok, so you had, he had a still up there behind the…

Nate: Yeah.

John: …the Tynes’ place…

Nate: Yeah, and then he had one…

John: …and then had one back up here?

Nate: I didn’t help him down here, but I helped him up there.

John: Ok.

Nate: Yeah.

John: And so how long, how, you would work up there for all day and then, and then Arch would go up there and work all night?

Nate: Yeah. But I stayed up in there.

John: Yeah.

Nate: We stayed up there. See I run it in the daytime, Arch would run it in the night.

John: And you stayed, did you have a little cabin up there or something when you…?

Nate: Yeah, he had a still house, he had shanty for me and him to stay in, and place to eat.

John: Yeah.

Nate: He’d do all the cooking. We lived but we lived give us the best of clothes and stuff.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah, we could see, he’d pay my brother to haul wood, drag, cut down a tree and drag it down from up there so people couldn’t see the tracks going up in there. Woman down the road here turned me in, so they say. I don’t know.

John: Oh, really?

Nate: Yeah.

John: So he, well he helped people out in the community and everything, helped them?

Nate: Yeah, good days people up in here, up in here give everybody a drink. He’d give ‘em a quart, half a gallon, whatever they want.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Everybody liked him. They called him Hunt, and he wanted ‘em to call him Sack, to call him Sack Daddy.

John: Sack Daddy.

Nate: Sack Daddy that’s what everybody called him.

John: Now why would he be called Sack Daddy?

Nate: Cause he didn’t want the law to know who he was.


Nate: Yeah.

John: I see. Oh, yeah.

Nate: He left ‘em up in here, he had two, he left one from up yonder where Fred lived, back up there on that mountain, and he told, told my daddy and brother-in-law that there was a twenty gallon keg of liquor up there, hid in, in a, a bir, birch pile. They went back up there and found it.

John: They did?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Well, I guess things were really hopping around there…

Nate: Yeah.

John: …when that…

Nate: Yeah.

John: …when that happened. Well, did any, anybody up in here end up having to go to, did you ever, you didn’t have to go, did you get in trouble for doing that?

Doing Time

Nate: I got in trouble first time, I went to prison for it too.

John: Oh, you did?

Nate: And it wadn’t none of mine neither.

John: Really?

Nate: Yeah, I just went down to, and got a drink. I seen the sheriff. I seen him, when I was there and I got away. And Alec told me to come on back down there with him. I went back down there and no, I didn’t go back down there. When I, when the damn law come up the road, we, I got away from there, when I seen ‘em, and I was up here at my sisters’, Alec was up there too. We walking down, up the road there, and I, I jumped in, the law drawed a gun on us, yeah, and they didn’t need to go back down there, where it was at and they set up there and they run, it wadn’t, we didn’t start the running, but they run, two gallons of liquor off, and everyone of them laws drink liquor, and got drunk up there, (laughs) except Shup. You know, Shup, use to be the law, the State Police?

John: That was before my time, I think.

Nate: Yeah.

John: Everyone except for him?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Then you got in trouble?

Nate: Yeah, you know a guy called E.T. Burton?

John: Yeah, yeah.

Nate: E.T. Burton was the law and he was up there drinking it, E.T. Burton take a drink of pint liquor, drink make him go cranky.

John: Then they went and sent ya’ll off to prison.

Nate: Yeah, but, but he didn’t give me but eight months. He knowed it wadn’t none of mine.

John: Yeah.

Nate: He give me time cause I wouldn’t tell. He give that other guy, that other guy went to the penitentiary. I didn’t go nowhere but down here at the ????? That’s where I went at…

John: Toward…

Nate: …down here, down here, down here where the prison, women’s prison is.

John: Uuhhh, I don’t know where that is.

Nate: Yeah, you know down here where they got these women’s prisons, we, I didn’t go up there, but some of them went up there to do the heavy work, for them women, and um, he told me he said, "If you wanna slip off, wadn’t no, I wadn’t over no gun."

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: Told me if I wanted to slip off, now, he said, " here’s the way to go, then don’t go that-a-way," said, "cause it’s dug it’s maganese…"

John: Yeah.

Nate: said, "it big deep holes out there, and fill up full of water, and there’s a lid over top of ‘em," said, "you’ll get killed." Yeah, told us, "If you wanna leave," said, "you, that’s the way to", told us which way to go, and then they moved, they go tear that place out, they moved me from down there at the Greenville, South Carolina, I went right through Bluefield on the bus, seen my, nephew working over there on the railroad.

John: Did you?

Nate: Didn’t have but about two or three months and I went down there and I told ‘em I said, "I’m tired of laying around. Give me something to do." He said, "Do you wanna work?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Well, sir, I’ll find you something to do in a day or two." Then he come up there and seen me, he said, "Can you control yourself around women?" I said, "Yeah, all I wanna do is get away from here, pull my time and get away from here." He said, "I’m gonna put you on the golf course," and he said, now, "It’s a woman, is what a, is there for us, that, where we was at, and he said, it was a Major there and he had, he had a wife, she said, "Don’t you speak to her unless she speak to you," said, "I’m not saying it cause you colored, but she got a white guy in trouble right now cause he spoke to her," and I said, "All I wanna do is to get away from here," and I went down there and went to work and I was working, they was, a lot of hours finding me, I had 50 acres. There was a regular sand trap, had a rake, a dead log, that was as light as a feather, and um, when my daddy died, they went, they come and got me in, the corporal asked me said, "Charles, what have you done?" I said, "I ain’t did nothing," I said, "My daddy’s dead and I know it," and when I got up there and he asked me, he said, "Sit down, I’ll be with you in a minute." I said, "I know what’s wrong," I said, "My daddy’s dead." He said, "How do you know?" I said, "I know he was gonna die." He said, "Do you want the day off?" I said, "No, I’ll go on back out on the job," and they asked me did I wanna come in. I at first said "Yeah," and then come to figuring it up 90 dollars for the guard, and I said, "Huh- I don’t wanna go." My sister and them was gonna send me the money, to come and I told ‘em I didn’t wanna go.

John: This is in, in Greenville, South Carolina?

Nate: Yeah.

Nate: …Wadn’t no law, wadn’t no gun or nothing with me down there, going down there, with two white guys that, a guy got out of his car at a service station, we stopped for something, and that’s when them two white guys said, "Looky yonder, that guy left them keys in that car," said, "Boy," said, "if we was out of here, what would we do?" When they got up there where we stopped at, the man was there with the gun, handcuffed ‘em and carried ‘em right to Georgia."

John: Hum.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah.

John: How about that.

Nate: Yes, sir. Now, you didn’t nickname nobody down there. You did, they, they turn you, you gone from down there. Send you right up to Georgia.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

John: So that was, so that was a pretty good place you were at, I guess?

Nate: Huh?

John: I guess there were a lot worse places that you’d have to go, huh.

Nate: Yeah, that’s, they had guns on them, they didn’t have a gun on me down here. The only time you seen a gun when they would take you to a prison up in Georgia.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah, we would have our clothes clean, they got ready to call, to call my name, and they asked me did I have any clothes? I said, "Yeah, I got a suit," and they went and got me suit, and it wadn’t pressed, they made a guy take that suit to up there and have it pressed. Yeah, that’s the only guy that give me any trouble. His name was Shulor, and I asked him when was these other guys gonna come down there. He wouldn’t say nothing.

John: Yeah.

Nate: And …

John: Well, were you, were you glad to get back home?

Nate: No, I, I, I asked him when was these other guys gonna move from down there, down there and we, I, I, I called him. I don’t know what I called him, um, Ms., Laurie or something, he said, "My name is Mr. Shulor," I said, " Well, I don’t know what your name," I said, "I just telling you what the Captain told me to call you," and he left me on the job and he told me, said, "I’ll be back," said, um, "I gotta take these men in," and when they got ready to, to check, I wadn’t there. He had those men come back to shoot me, I know what he was aiming to do, but when he come back I was gone, and I come in, I went up right by this, this here guard there at the gate and I told him what happened. I went up there to the Captain, and, and told the Captain, and they called him in, wanting to know why he leading me out there. Yeah,…

John: Yeah

Nate: …he left me out there, he was, he was a mean dude.

John: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

John: So, you got to come home from there then?

Nate: After my daddy, after my time was up, they give me give me some money, and I got that money come on up there and, and Laurie, that, that man told me said, "I’m supposed to stay with you," said, "but I ain’t. I’m going back." When he turned his back I went and got me a pint of liquor, liquor was right down there, come on in to Bluefield. (laughs)

John: (laughs) So, I guess you were, you were glad to get back?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Alright, so after all that did, did, did people quit making liquor up here? After all that trouble?

Nate: No, they, they kept on making it.

John: Oh, they did?

Nate: Yeah, they kept on making it, but now they don’t make it on account of these helicopters.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: Yeah. Last one was made up here with, in, Whiteville, well this one was a white man too, it was some white folks right up the road, I mean they had the still up there, up, the end of the road,…

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: …and I was in the army then. I come home on the furlough, took 56 sticks of dynamite to blow that thing up. Yeah, and they, they had concrete cinder blocks and everything, women. Women back there and men, they tell me it was a girl that the law went and got by her, and this here girl had a 33, I believe, Ford, they had her blocked in, they went on up there, she was out in the woods, she come back there and knocked them, them cars out of gear, run ‘em over the bank, said she went out from in here, buddy they didn’t get her neither.

John: She got away?

Nate: Yeah, yeah she got away.

John: These were some white folks that went back in there?

Nate: Yeah.

John: Well, did anybody up in here work with ‘em?

Nate: Yeah, well, end of the house, end of the road up there…

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: …was a guy I think, um, they had a stash, they’d bring some liquor down there, Wagon’s son, they would bring liquor down there, they’d, they’d give you liquor. My brother-in-law knowed ‘em and one of ‘em, they went and got after, he had a 33 Ford, and the sheriff would go on up, up Laurel, by the nursing home and when they, they, they got after him, they found him, he wrecked that, that car and setting up in there with a cigar in his mouth, killed him. Happy, Happy was his name.

John: Happy.

Nate: Happy was them people name up there, one of ‘em, he was the head man,…

John: Hum

Nate: …Happy, yeah.

John: I’ll tell ya, that’s pretty wild.

Nate: Yeah.

Dance Hall

John: Do, do you remember when they had the um, when they had the dance hall down here on the Ferguson place and all that?

Nate: Yeah.

John: What was that like?

Nate: That was good, that was good. That there where I lost my wife at, and, and I, and I had laughed, she left me too.

John: Well, how did, how did, how did you lose your wife down there?

Nate: She wadn’t nothing to start with. I just thought she was. And she run off with three of four men and I had the household there,…

John: Uh-huh.

John: Yeah, so there was dancing and everything down there and I guess uh…

Nate: Yeah.

John: …how many people would be down there at one time?

Nate: Man, that place would be full.

John: Really?

Nate: Yeah. Yeah, it would be full.

John: And where would they all…

Nate: There were two people, Fred Brunalow had it once, the first one, the guy left and he sold it. Was, two, three people had it.

John: Uh-huh.

Nate: And then it just went out of business. he got, he was, that guy up there was making liquor right up there on the side of the road and I got, I got caught. I didn’t wanna go down there, I was working back yonder on that mountain. He come up to me to help him to run that liquor. He done got some sugar and carried it down there, you couldn’t tell him nothing. Had it one time right at Fred’s spring up there. Fred told him to move it. (laughs) Yeah.

John: And this was …

Nate: Alley McClenerham, that was Fred’s brot, son-in-law.

John: Ooohhh, ok.

Nate: And he just died here, ain’t been very long ago up in Washington. His wife just left him yest, yesterday.

John: Daughter, ok, alright. Well, can you think of anything else you’d like to?

Nate: No, I don’t know…

John: Are you sure?

Nate: …nothing else.

John: Oh, you know all kinds of stuff. I might come back up…

Nate: Nnnoooo!!!

John: …here and talk to you again. Um, well, I ha, certainly have enjoyed talking to you and it’s I have to ask you a few more things here. It says usually anthropologists in their reports don’t use the names of the people that they talk to. Would it matter if your name was used?

Nate: No, it doen’t matter.

John: Ok.

Nate: I ain’t said nothing I couldn’t tell.

John: I know.

Nate: Everybody up here knowed it, I, I, it was just like a job on the railroad you didn’t take out no social security.

John: (laughs)

Nate: Yeah.

John: Unemployment insurance.

Nate: Yeah, heck, yeah.

transcript by Shanda Ball(rghs 2000)

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