Ellis "Huckleberry" Meyers talks about a variety of topics . Huckleberry has spent most of his 92 years in the Wilderness section of Bland County near the community of Hollybrook. He is interviewed by Stephanie Compton.
Stephanie: What's your full name?
Mr. Myers: Millard Ellis Myers
Stephanie: Where were you born?
Mr. Myers: Right here in 1904.
Stephanie:What did you use to do, what was your occupation?
Mr. Myers:I've done everything. I don't think there's anything in the book I haven't done. I've run power shovels, farmed all my life too. I've rode horses 42 years down here at Glyn Lyn and 62 down here at Bland.
Stephanie: Do you remember when there was a store up on 608?
Mr. Myers: Yea, there used to be a big store up there, a lumber camp store, a commissary we called it.
Stephanie: Do you remember the name?
Mr. Myers: Yea, Dehart, C.M. Dehart.
Stephanie:Up on our property theres three graves and one of them belongs to Johnny Myers, do you know who that is?
Mr. Myers: Yea, that was my grandfather, it's on that hill up there.
Stephanie: He married Julia right?
Mr. Myers:Yea, he was a farmer. He was in the old Civil War.
Stephanie:Do you know how many children he had?
Mr. Myers: It seems to me like it was five.
Stephanie: How did he die?
Mr. Myers: Just old age. He's the stoutest man, he's a full blooded German. He's the stoutest man ever been in this country, ever in the history of it. He could take two bushel sacks of corn and take his teeth and put it back on his back. And they'd run a race, of course money was money then I think about two dollars for who could kill the most deer out there on the Farely field, I don't know if you know where that is or not. You go up to Bastian, go up the mountain and then come back along the mountain. and he brought six out of there that week. Two every day, he'd tie their legs together and put one on each shoulder. It was just a prize, not nothin' much.
Stephanie: Is your wife still living?
Mr. Myers: Yea, but she's not in too good of shape, she's got a catch of that Altheimers Disease but she can get up and move around but she's in bed now.
Stephanie: What's her name?
Mr. Myers: Jessie May
Stephanie: How many kids did you all have?
Mr. Myers: Eleven
Stephanie:That's a big family.
Mr. Myers: A old lady down here we called her aunt Rosie Miller but she wasn't our aunt but we called her that, and a feller lived right down here and he couldn't talk to plain and he said "that Ellis Myers is a raisin too many childern " he said " I'll own what he's got" and she said " well Fred I don't know so well, seems to me like everytime a kids born he buys another farm." And it wind up we own everything around. I owned six farms here at one time. I divided it up among my kids.
Stephanie: Where did you go to school or did you go to school?
Mr. Myers: Went to school five months, you went either down here at Hollybrook and you had to wade the snow because it used to get deep here or up here we called it the Radford school house. I got to the fifth grade. Three months out of the year is all you went and a third of the time you couldn't get there, couldn't wade the snow.
Stephanie: I guess in the summer time you were needed at home.
Mr. Myers: Yea, I never will forget when my daddy gave me a calf. We had plenty of corn and I'd get down and shell corn on my hand and feed that calf, shelled corn you know he couldn't eat the cob. I got started and you know when I was sixteen years old I had about five hundred dollars in the bank on them calfs. And I just kept on fooling with cattle and done good. I've been real lucky seems like everything I touch turns green. That farm down there at Rufus Havens with the yellow gate, I owned that, I sold it and made 52,000. All of them would say "why don't you fix up the land you own, why you want to buy another farm" I said maybe it will be worth something one day and I just took that chance and it was. What I give for that farm in 1928 was eight hundred dollars and now I get two hundred and seventy six dollars a month until 2006 and eight percent interest. I've never been short of money, not bragging or anything. It never stopped me a bit. We sent ten kid through high school and it never did bother me a bit.
Stephanie: Do you know how Pumpkin Center got it's name?
Mr. Myers: Yea, they just called it that, Pumpkin Center. Old Mason Burton, he's dead, was over in Pinch Creek at a bean hullin' over there and they pinched him so he said I know what I'll call that creek, Pinch Creek. There's a place down by Swords Creek called Pumpkin Center too. It's about ten miles from Honaker, I used to haul coal down there.
Stephanie: Who were some other family's who used to live around here, do you remember?
Mr. Myers: Oh yea, Jim Burton, Charlie Burton, John Burton, they about owned this down in here except this farm that my daddy owned and I got the home place. We had a stiff legged man for a school teacher.
Stephanie: What did you do at Christmas time, you didn't get a lot of presents and stuff did you?
Mr. Myers: Well, women back in them days made dolls and things about as many presents as you get today. They just made them. You could get candy a big bag of it for a nickel. We paid our store account once a year, every fall you would go down and pay your store account and go until the next fall. Any time you wanted a hog if you didn't have am' you know, you could go out in the woods and just kill ya one, wild hog turkey or anything like that.
Stephanie: Do you think it was better back then or do you think it's better now?
Mr. Myers: Well I believe it's a whole lot more peaceful back in them days. In fact I told some of them if you had to live like when I growed up it took you three days to go to Bluefield you would appreciate a car. Now you can run over there and get something for breakfast. We'd most of the time put four horses in a wagon to pull it up what we called artificial turn on the mountain, that's up there where them houses are now, and we'd camp there, we'd go down in town and sell out the next day our load of produce and then come back up there and camp and then the next day come on in. That's three days.
Stephanie: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Mr. Myers: Five sisters and one brother.
Stephanie: Is there anything else you remember about your grandmother and grandfather?
Mr. Myers: No, they just lived a good peaceful life, they kept a mare and raised colts and sold them and sold pigs. They made it good.
Stephanie: Up there with your grandfather is two little children, do you know who they are?
Mr. Myers: Yea, their father used to live right over from where the preacher used to live. I remember them but I didn't know where they were buried, They were awful good people. There used to be panthers up in here. Poor old Dr. Bogle came out one night and you'd go after them at night on horse back you know and they'd come out on a horse and have to go back and a panther jumped out at him a tore a big chunk out of his horses hip and he had a very cheap gun and he stuck it back there and shot and about fifteen or twenty days later they found that panther dead. That cheap gun had killed it. But it ruined the horse it never did recover.
Stephanie: What kind of games did you play when you were little?
Mr. Myers: Fox and goose and checkers and stuff like that and ever few nights we'd go to a bean hullin' or an apple peelin" or a taffy pullin" to make molasses, we had a good time. We'd get pretty sticky sometimes because we would get it all over each other. Yea, we had a good time.
Stephanie: How long have you been married?
Mr. Myers: Sixty seven years! In 1926 is when I married.
Stephanie: Did you all have electricity?
Mr. Myers: No, never had electricity till around 1950.
Stephanie: What did you use?
Mr. Myers: Lamps, we'd hang lamps up, it would give pretty good light and then in the house I grew up in had a big fireplace and we'd throw pine on the fire and it would light up the whole house. We'd hang a pot over it and cook beans and stuff. Many times I almost caught my feet on fire. I'd get up many mornings and have to shake the snow off my bed, it would blow in through the cracks. It was a log house and they filled the cracks up but they didn't get it done just right, it wasn't nothing like cement they used mud. The coyotes made us dread hog killing time, they'd come and you would hear them go a boowoowoowoo nothin' over here and the next thing ya know there'd be fifteen out here eaten' them innards, we dreaded that time, us kids. The only way we could keep sheep was to build a pen around that chimney and put them in there and then they'd come and get in there and kill them that's how bad them wolves was then.
Stephanie: Did you ever see a bear when you were little?
Mr. Myers: Oh yes, I dreaded to see old man Doc Nunn comin' cause I didn't like bear meat. He'd kill six and seven a year and right here he'd come to sell because my daddy liked bear meat, but I didn't, I just hated that. ( Mrs. Myers enters the room) Come on in honey.
Mrs. Myers: Well thank you sir.
Mr. Myers: That farm up there on the mountain, I've seen all kinds of bears up there. They killed thirteen sheep of mine up there one year. Of course they stalk bears now ya know. One time a bear got into my cherry trees and ate all the cherries he must have been a bign' cause it was all I could do to reach the first limb and he got plum to the top. All the road back in them days were made with a pick and a shovel, no machinery. I helped make that road across Bastian mountain up there, we done it with a pick and a shovel and an oxen. Have you ever seen an oxen shoe? Their little fat shoes about as long as my finger and there in two and they put one on each side of the foot ya know and everytime they jerk their foot up them shoes would click together. You can hear an oxen comin' from here to the road. Here are some of the trophies I get for ridin' my horse.
Mrs. Myers: He gets excited over his trophies. He still rides some but not like he use to.
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