My dad was a big fisherman and never missed a time to go fishing. It was Paw love for fishing that took him and our family to Long Island, NC. It was on the banks of the Catawba River where he stayed most of the time when he was not working. I guess I would have had more brothers and sisters if he had not died when I was fifteen month's old. I do not remember ever having a dad. After his death, Mom had a hard time since there was no income to feed our large family of ten children.
I was born or I maybe I was just found in an old holler stump or something like that. You did not hear much about storks bringing babies back then. Since you would not believe the stump story for one moment, I will just have to tell it like it really was the day I was born.
It was early one spring day, May 21st 1928, to be exact. Mom woke up and told Paw that he was going to have another mouth to feed before the day was over and sure enough that is the way it happened and my life got started. Paw sent one of his older sons over the ridge to a neighbor's house to call the doctor. Doc came out to the country and got there just in time to see me and make sure I was in good working order. He got a chicken and a country ham for his trouble.
I was the last of nine boys and two girls to be born into this family. After I grew up a little, it was clear to me that Paw was not looking for another mouth to feed but another field hand to help feed him and the rest of the family.
Mom could always take care of herself! She did all the cooking and washed the clothes in three tin tubs after she boiled them in an old black wash pot over a fire in the yard. She did all the cleaning of the house as well as all of the gardening.
Mom rented the Propst Farm, a small one horse farm nine miles east of Statesville, NC. She paid the rent for it on the share cropper’s deal which meant that we had to give the first one third of what the farm was expected to yield to the landlord and we were able to keep the rest. My two older sister and some of the older brothers left the farm to work at public businesses as far back as I can remember. Two of my brothers joined the marines, others went to work in the cotton mill, and some stayed home to attend school. One sister and two brothers finished high school. Four joined the navy at the beginning of World War II, so I just had to join the navy which ended up being at the end of the big war.
I was the littlest one but you can bet your bottom dollar that I was not spoiled! All of the older ones had "been there and done that" and they knew just how to work little ol' me so I got it from everyone. Mom did try to protect me but it was one against ten. Of course, when she meant business, it only took one of her for my protection!