My dad worked most of his adult life at Coal, Feed and Lumber Company —hardware— in downtown Marshall, NC. He delivered products. I remember for many years, Coal, Feed sold a lot of coal, which was pretty prominent. Dad drove a truck delivering coal, and I can remember him coming home in the fall and winter after having spent all day in the basement loading coal, taking it out and unloading it. They didn’t have dump trucks or any kind of equipment to load that coal other than shovels. So, he shoveled a lot of coal.
At that time there were several independent coal haulers in this county. A lot of fellows had trucks that they drove to Kentucky and Virginia, and brought coal to this county that they delivered to homeowners. Coal was a pretty predominant heating fuel for a great number of years.
There was some wood burned, but the transition was not from wood to oil, it was from wood to coal to oil. [I remember as a child my dad getting home from work and being covered with coal.] Absolutely covered. Looking more like a coal miner than a delivery person for hardware.
[My mom was a] homemaker primarily. She worked for a short period of time at a store in Marshall. At a variety store—the National Five and Ten. When we lived above Marshall she did domestic work for some of the store owners that lived not far away. She would go in and do housecleaning and things of that nature for them.
We farmed a bit. We never had much of a farming operation. When we lived above Marshall, my dad and my dad’s brother and their father had a farm operation that included—in addition to tobacco—corn and some wheat and oats, and things of that nature.
We did not have electricity until I was about eight or nine years old. That was when we moved to Walnut Creek. That was basically [just] the lights. A little later on we were able to buy a refrigerator, and that was a marvelous thing to come into the house. The first thing we got rid of were the oil lamps; that was an event and a nice step up, but it wasn’t like we had televisions and all the conveniences that we have now. The next thing, as I said earlier, was getting that refrigerator and having a place to keep the milk cold other than the spring house. Other things just kind of came on gradually as we could afford them.
November 10, 2000 interview