(Photo of Roy Author Childers courtesy of Dwight Childers. Copyright belongs to www.childers-shepherd.org)
Yesterday I posted an interview with Frances David Childers, today we’ll hear from his younger brother Roy Arthur Childers.
Roy Arthur Childers was the sixth child of Thomas Clingman Childers, Jr. (1871-1957) and his wife, Bertha Elizabeth Lambert (1878-1942). In 1973, Roy was interviewed by his son Dwight about his childhood days spent in the Ocona Lufta Valley.
Couches Creek Memories (Interview with Roy Arthur Childers conducted by Dwight Childers 1973. www.Childers-Sheperd.org retains sole copyright)
The things I remember about the most was riding to the field and back in a sled drawn by oxen. I remember about the sled runners going up over the rocks you know, up to one side and the other over the rocks. They was pullin’ so slow ‘t they [wudn] no danger you know. And it would tickle me to death to ride that sled on the hillside to gather corn, see. They gathered all the corn with oxens then.
That was up on that mountain there, and then up in the cove. That was where I was born, in a one-room log house. The last time I was up there, the barn was there; the’ was the old log barn there. So I doubt that the’s anything there, because the park officials burnt up and tore up ever house that was in them mountains, done away with them I reckon to keep people from slippin’ in there and campin’ in ’em.
We done most of our farming . . . half of our farming in what we called the cove on in above where we [lived].
He had over a hundred acres.
I think he paid a dollar and a half a acre, or something like that. I don’t remember us ever havin’ a surveyor in there. They just bought it from one to the other. My daddy bought this from his brother-in-law, Aunt Sarie’s husband, John Smith. His sister owned it before we did. She was his half-sister. I think they bought it before they was married, before they had any children.
That [the name “Couches Creek”] dates back as far as I can remember. The’ was some Couches that lived on that creek before that I remember anything about it. That’s where it got its name. That’s what I’ve heard.
[Families on Couches Creek]
Dee Ashe was the first . . . Penn Hyde, now Penn Hyde lived down near the mouth of the creek, and he had great long hair down on his shoulders. And then the’ was some Rolands lived way back in another cove there. The’ was several families lived on Couches Creek at one time. Some Rolands lived back on the east side of Couches Creek, and then Dee Ashe lived there. And then we lived there, and then Carry Nations lived on above us. He raised a family up there. And then Will Brown lived on the right-hand prong.
When me and Gerald was up there the last time we went up to Carry Nations. All the remains we could find there was an old bedstead. I’ve helped Carry Nations hoe corn for twenty cents an hour on them hills up there. He worked at Mingus Creek in a loggin’ job. He walked from the head of Couches Creek to Mingus Creek ever’ day.
[An Ordinary Day on Couches Creek]
Well, my job was to carry water to ’em in the corn field, take their dinner you know. I remember one day, I was takin’ their dinner to the older ones that was workin’ in the fields. That was on up the creek. We had two or three places we farmed at. It was on up the creek at another field up there. Now it’s all growed up into woodland. And I was crossin’ this creek an’ I had a little old red hat on, and I was takin’ their dinner, an’ I was crossin’ that creek and fell in, an’ lost my hat. It washed away. It was a little old felt hat, with a brim. It worried me a lot, but I went on and took their dinner to ’em. Never did find that hat.
[The field dinner] was beans, an’ whatever we made there on the place, beans and vegetables, corn bread. In a lard bucket. That was our food then. We made our own molasses. You never did see an old cane mill, did you?
My job was, too, during that time . . . huntin’ the cows, in the mountains. I was evidently seven or eight then.
We didn’t get too much schoolin’, because bad days we couldn’t go and then if they needed us to work in the field we’d have to stay there and work.
I’d take the dinner to the others in the fields, and then in the evenin’ later on, my job was to hunt the cows up. An’ I’d have to go barefooted, see, and back then the’ was plenty of chestnuts. I remember a hittin’ my heel on them chestnut burrs, an’ I’d have to set down then an’ pick chestnut burrs out of my feet. Where I could find a tan bark log, I’d walk the log, see. The’ was a lot of vegetation then in the woods. The old cows had bells on ’em. Sometimes you couldn’t hear ’em. You’d have to go up on a high ridge somewhere to hear ’em. Then they’d be on in the holler. An’ I’d walk them logs as far as I could go, barefooted.
An’ get up a little kindlin’ of a evenin’ you know.
Roughage . . . We raised corn; we didn’t know what hay was. You fed your hogs, your cattle, your steers, we fed our cows nubbins, the little tender ends you’d break off the corn. An’ use the rest for bread.
I enjoyed this interview as much as the one Dwight did with his Uncle Frances. I guess my favorite part was where he described riding a sled around the mountains. I’ve heard Pap tell so many stories about sleds from when he was little-from the time the horse ran away and took them for a wild ride to hauling things like Papaw Wade’s new stove. I liked the part about Penn Hyde and his ‘great long hair’ too.
If you want to hear more from Roy Arthur Childers jump over to Dwights site for more of the interview!