Interview With James Hurst

Hannah: I guess just go ahead and start with schools and where you went to school, and what you did there.

Uncle Jay: First school I ever went to was Mountain View, up Fallen Ash up here. It ain't there no more. It's been gone for years. But, then I... I left uh...Cantrell schools.

Hannah: Which school?

Uncle Jay: Cantrell. That's out other side.. uh...south of Yellville. Southeast of Yellville. And I went to... Flippin. Uh... Number One. Down here, oh it's on this road that goes down on the other side of the railroad. Back down there, I went to that one.
Then, I went to Flippin School. [Long Pause] That's all the schools.

Hannah: Um... when did you graduate?

Uncle Jay: I didn't. I quituated! [Laughs]

Hannah: And, what grade were you in when you quit?

Uncle Jay: Seventh.

Hannah: Really? And, why'd ya quit? Just ta...

Uncle Jay: I had too much to do. [Laughs] I had to help... I had to start help making a living. That's back whenever it was hard times.

Hannah: Whad'ya, whad'ya do to help your family make a living?

Uncle Jay: I worked... cut cedar... and wood. [Long Pause] I stayed with a.. I stayed with a.. my cousin. Down here in Rea Valley. Uh... foreman. Fifteen dollars a month.

Hannah: So, do you remember the Rea Valley school then?

Uncle Jay: Oh yeah. I remember the Rea Valley school. But, I didn't go to it, but I remembered it. And... I done this, that, and the other.

Hannah: Um...well, whad'ya do for fun, like during the summer?

Uncle Jay: Play. [Laughs]

Hannah: You like to go swimmin' a lot?

Uncle Jay: Yeah, whenever we got a chance we would.

Hannah: Where did you go? Did you go to the river? Did you go to the lake?

Uncle Jay: No, we went to the creek.

Hannah: Oh, the creek?

Uncle Jay: Do you know where Crooked Creek is... over where you cross... weaving back there towards Yellville.

Hannah: Uh huh.

Uncle Jay: We'd, we'd steal watermelons. [Laughs]

Hannah: Did uh... [Uncle Jay starts talking] Oh, I'm sorry.

Uncle Jay: I ain't, I ain't lying to you. We did! [Laughs]

Hannah: Whad'ya do for fun during the winter?

Uncle Jay: Hunt rabbits.

Hannah: Do you remember it snowing very much?

Uncle Jay: Oh yeah. [Long Pause] Yeah... we'd... we'd get uh... when we was going to the Number One school down there, they was, they had a pump out there. In the winter time we'd take and run water off oh.., uh.., pump that water out down and let it run down over a bank off down through there and we had a skating rink made out there. We had a good time playing that way.

Hannah: So, did you date much?

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Uncle Jay: What we do for dates? Oh, we'd just come to town and go to the show ball and... we played a lot of ball. On Sundays... we'd get out... that's before we went to going to church... Ah, we'd just do this and that.

Hannah: Now, was it, was dating more formal then? Like did you... like really go and meet the family?

Uncle Jay: Oh yeah. I'd known her [pointing to wife] family ever since she was... me . and her just little bitty things. [Laughs]

Hannah: Let's see... Did you have a curfew?

Uncle Jay: No!

Hannah: No?

Uncle Jay: No.

Hannah: But...

Uncle Jay: Not unless they caught me! [Laughs]

Hannah: Um... so what about huntin'? You like to do a lot of huntin'?

Uncle Jay: Oh yeah, I like to hunt... I done a lot of that. But, I never did kill very much.
Only squirrels and rabbits.

Hannah: So, did you... did you use guns or did you like using a bow, or...?

Uncle Jay: No, I used a gun... a 22 and a shotgun, rifle.

Hannah: What was the, did, was there like a real big deer that you ever...?

Uncle Jay: Uh, I got... me and Walter... ur, her [pointing to Amanda] grandpa got a... I believe and 8 point.

Hannah: Pretty good size.

Uncle Jay: Yeah, and then another fella killed one. It was uh... it was a 2 point, two little, six inch points on...

Hannah: Spike?

Uncle Jay: Spike.

Hannah: Uh, let's see.... But you hunted mostly for food, that's why you didn't kill a lot?

Uncle Jay: Yeah. We had to have something to eat. Course, we raised a lot of hogs... , had cows... we killed our own meat. We killed a high of 4 hogs at one time. For meat... That's back when... say, uh raise... cure that meat and keep it. But, now it seems like... Oh yeah, my daddy butchered... uh...cows, hogs, go around and sell them to people, come out to town, drive out to town in the wagon... him and another man butchered ********* [indiscernible] That's it, it on the... somethin' to eat. We raised cotton and corn... peas, hay, feed stock on it. That's when the cotton, and the, depression and the cotton got down to... we had, uh, 20 bales of cotton. We would'uve got 11 cent a pound for it and uh... the man that we uh... was in with, workin' for... He wanted to hold. They kept tellin' him it was gonna go higher and go higher. He huh... he held it... but when it come time to selL.. uh, huh... uh he got $4.50 a bale out of it. He would of got 11 cent a pound when they first cut it... uh, picked it and baled it!

Hannah: Wow!... You were talkin' 'bout um keeping the meat. How did you keep it fresh?

Uncle Jay: Hang, hang it up in the smokehouse. Cured it with uh... salt.

Hannah: So, you didn't have like the refrigerators or anything?

Uncle Jay: Noooo! You didn't have nothing like that!

Hannah: Whad'ya do for your... your milk and eggs and stuff that had to be cold all the time?

Uncle Jay: We'd... sit uh... hang the milk down in the cellar, cistern. That cistern, we'd put that down in there and uh... the eggs we just... used em' as fast as we get em'.

Hannah: Did, was there much... like was the river as popular as it is now with all the fish in' , you know people comin' from all around to go fishin' in it?

Uncle Jay: Naw, it wasn't as popular, but it had more fish in it.

Hannah: Uh...

Uncle Jay: It had catfish, and that kinda fish in it.

Hannah: Oh really?

Uncle Jay: Now it ain't got any. Ain't got nothin' but trout... and, and them there uh...
well, brown trout, that's the same thing.

Hannah: Let's see... [sighs] Do you remember anything about World War II?

Uncle Jay: Naw, not really. I didn't keep up with it... All I know I didn't have to go, I got, I got as far as Little Rock.

Hannah: And what happened there?

Uncle Jay: They turned me down... Took the examination, then they turned me down...
Said uh... said I couldn't do anything 'cause that leg [pointing to right leg] was... shorter than the other.

Hannah: Um, let's see... About what age did people start workin' when... when you were a kid?

Uncle Jay: Oh, 'bout six, seven years old.

Hannah: And it was, it was tough work too?!

Uncle Jay: Yeah, pullin' corn, cotton... picking cotton, gatherin' corn,... when it got ready we had to go in there and gather that corn... Some of the corn'd be so high, that we, we couldn't, we'd have to break the stalks over to get the corn off of it.

Hannah: And... and... the... did you ever have like any money to... to just spend on...
you know just playin' around?

Uncle Jay: No.

Hannah: So... so you really didn't... you know do much of the goin' into town and...?

Uncle Jay: No, not very much.

Hannah: Can you remember like what Cokes cost?

Uncle Jay: Nickel.

Hannah: You have any good stories about anything?

Uncle Jay: Any, anything?

Hannah: Anything particular that you can just think about?

Uncle Jay: Naw, I don't believe. [Long Pause] Oh yeah, I have got a good story to tell ya! Me and my brother, well there was a whole bunch of us. We, we went up to an old mine up... on the mountain. Back there. Uh...we was all comin' home, we thought... me and my brother thought everybody was ahead of us. And we sat down there, we was gonna go swimmin'. We thought, or we knew everybody was ahead of us, or we thought they was. But... but we sit down there on that bank and fixin' to pull our shoes off, this ole' panther... squalled. And we thought it was my sister and another girl. Behind us... comin' down through there and we waited and waited... that thing'd squall every once in a while... By that time, things got to be sorta skeery... And whenever anytime uh... hair raised up on the back ah your neck... you know [Laughs] its time to move. So, my brother, he drug me for about a mile and a half. I was, I was a little bitty fellar. So, he drug me home... just... tore all the hide off my legs down through there... getting me home. The next day... it went on down to a... ah, a school house da uh,... Glacier Dane Concord School. And went down by there and uh... women that uh... teach school uh there rode horses to schooL.. and them horses broke loose and run off... went home. And uh... they got uh... they heard it squall, they looked [unintelligible] got in the winder to watch... lookin' out there 'neath, it passed by the school, went on... down past there.

Hannah: Um, were there TV's when you were growin' up?

Uncle Jay: No!

Hannah: What about radios?

Uncle Jay: [Long Pause] Um... naw, we didn't have no radios.

Hannah: Well, when, when the radio or TV first came out... what, what were, the mo-, what were the uh... the most memorable shows you can remember or... or broadcasts.

Uncle Jay: On the radio?

Hannah: Uh huh.

Uncle Jay: That'd be like 101 uh... Amos and Andy! [Laughs] on the radio... Lone Ranger... was on the uh radio too. Then... they was all of most of em' but, they get to settin' just in town at night and that made a difference. And uh... on the TV they had uh... westerns. I like to watch them westerns whenever... they come on but... most all them western people are all dead now they... you just get the re-runs. [Laughs]

Hannah: Um, do you remember any really big natural disasters like any floods or... real big storms?

Uncle Jay: Uh... Ie' me see... we had a, now I don't know whether it'd be a really bad or not. We had a flood when we was over there on that creek I was talkin' about. Warshed some houses away and some barns, cattle and hogs... that's about all the... warshed part. Uh, let's see, in uh, '63... had a big flood, warshed part of Harrison away.

Hannah: Oh wow.

Uncle Jay: Whenever we... started there and couldn't come. Yeah, that was after we was married. But,... way back yonder. There were too many of them there things. Lot of... snows in the wintertime.

Hannah: Do you remember when the dam was built? The Bull Shoals Dam?

Uncle Jay: Oh yeah... I worked on that.

Hannah: Did you really?

Uncle Jay: Worked up, up here on this mountain up here where they called it a quarry.
The mountain you see up on, where that TV tower is up there. I worked on that.

Hannah: So you hauled out rock then?

Uncle Jay: Naw, I, I was a powder monkey.

Hannah: What's that?

Uncle Jay: I shootin' dynamite.

Hannah: Oh really.

Uncle Jay: Drill a hole in that rock, and fill them up an... break them rocks off. They had that, they had a belt that run from ah... up there to the dam over there... and carried them rocks... after they broke up into balls... rocks to carry em' to the dam... then they crushed em' over there in... and poured em' in the dam.

Hannah: Wasn't that a long way for those rocks to be going?

Uncle Jay: Yeah, it was nine miles.

Hannah: Wow!

Uncle Jay: [Coughs] Then I worked on that belt some and I worked over there at the dam.

Hannah: So... so how mu- how, what did the dam do for... for this area? How, how much did it change it?

Uncle Jay: [Long Pause] Oh, I don't know... It give a lot of work while they were, that was going on... Then, the Norfolk Dam... it was built before Bull Shoals was.

Hannah: Oh, I didn't know that.

Uncle Jay: And, I worked on it... then the... come to this one... and then when I left this one I went to uh... Table Rock Dam... Branson. Worked up there.

Hannah: So, why did they decide to build the Bull Shoals Dam? What was the reason?

Uncle Jay: Electricity.

Hannah: [Long Pause] Well, I guess that's about it. Thanks, I appreciate it.

Interview and writings by Hanna Friend
Put on web by Wade McBee