B: I am here interviewing Jewell Tilley. Jewell, what year were you born?
B: What year did you graduate high school?
J: I didn't, back in my day there, there wasn't no high schools.
B: Wasn't no schools?
J: To speak of just lil' ol' few days, maybe a month.
J: I never did get past the 5th or 6th grade.
B: So, you never did play any sports or...
J: Huh uh.
B: What were your hobbies when you were younger?
B: What all did you farm?
B: What all did you farm?
J: Farmed corn, beans, and peas, and made gardens, milked a cow, had a cow, we lived on milk and bread. We'd milk the ol' cow and make us a pound of cornbread. We had something to eat then.
B: O.K. What did you do for fun?
J: Mostly in the woods hunting deer.
B: O.K. Did you have a T.V.?
B: Did you have a T.V. when you were younger, teenage years?
J: No, there wasn't no such thing as T.V. Very few telephones.
B: No telephones? When did you see the first T.V.?
J: I cain't remember.
B: It was a long time ago?
J: It's been a long time.
B: O.K. What about dating when you were young?
J: Oh, yeah, I did quite a bit of that.
B: Did ya?
J: Oh Yeah! (He laughs)
B: Who was your high school sweetheart? Did you have any of those?
J: I'm gonna think, I must have been 20. < p>B: Did you have any kids?
B: How many wives have you had?
B: You just have two kids from those two wives?
J: I had two from this last wife, I had four kids.
J: Joe McCracken, we'd rent that thing for $2 a night have it back there the next morning at daylight. Now can you imagine that? I cain't remember. Tell ya, I cain't remember what gas sold for a gallon.
B: Did you have a lot of places to go when you rented this car?
J: Oh yeah, I'd make a lot of places. I'd go see them girls. I'd go see them girls. I'd get on my mule and ride 10 miles to see one of em' and come back of a night and let em' get back the next mornin' about daylight. (He laughs) (I laugh). I had a lot of girlfriends.
B: O.K., What about hunting, what did you hunt and fish for when you...
J: I guided for 25 year on the white river over there for Elmo Hurst and different dock operators. Oh, we caught some good trout. I'll have to tell ya one we caught. Clyde Hanglin, he lived there at Cotter, that was a long time ago, he lived there. We was guidin' for Cotter and they took us to the dam and put us in 2 boats. We had a party apiece. And when we came back in the dock that night we had a limit, each one of us had a limit, it was, ah, 24 trout. Them 24 trout weighed 76 pounds. We weighed em'.
J: Yup, now that's back when there was lots of big trout. You cain't do that no more.
B: So there wasn't.
J: Seems to me like it was two, we didn't have as many deer then as we do now. Up there is my turkey huntin' beards, I'm a turkey hunter.
B: Was there a special place you went hunting?
B: Where did you go hunting at?
J: Oh I got ta, later on I got ta huntin' at Bull Shoals lake. I got ta killin' a lot more deer, there is a lot more deer up by the lake. We killed a lot of deer in there. I was coming back one day with an', had an illegal deer in the back of my pickup. Coming from a, Promise Land, and my brother and two more guys was with us and I told em', I said, "Well, we had two pickups," and I said, " You'n go on and if we get caught with this illegal deer then one fine will be a lot easier to pay than two or three." And I said," I'll bring the deer in." So we got over on this side of Gassville and run into a road block. Well, hell, all I could do was drive up there and stop, and I did. I walked up to the front of my pickup and laid my hand up on the hood and here come the highway state patrol and I talked to him a little bit and he motioned me on. He never did look in the back of that pickup. Ordinarily they do. I got in and went on. (He laughs)
B: What is your favorite hunting story?
J: Deer story? Oh, you mean a deer story, I got a lot of em'..... We used ta, I went out to Hood River, Oregon. Ya, it was Hood River, Hood River, Oregon where I worked at a big orchard and there were big camps there, lots of cabins and stuff. People lived there working and my brother was the foreman over at Oregon, Jersey, so boy, you never seen the likes of deer. And that deer, that deer, that big orchard was fenced off. It was the biggest orchard in the United States. Big apples and Maryland and that was fenced off to keep the deer out of it. So, you had to, they told my brother said," Now whenever you have kind of have a wind storm you take somebody and walk that fence." Said,"Them limbs broke off you have to get them off to keep them deer out." Well, my brother had a darn hound, a deer dog, and he'd go around walking that fence while we'd go around that way to the far side and it was bluffed in over there. I forget what they call that river. Any how they didn't have space over 200 yards to run into to get back into deep woods. You'd get up there with your gun and kill three or four of em'. We'd feed off all that meat for months and months, never was a one of em' told on us. They was all illegal deer.
J: That was right across from Hood River, Oregon. Well, I might of got that a little wrong. Why we were working at Benjin, Washington and just across the river was Hood River, Oregon. We were working in Washington.
B: O.K., do you have a favorite fishing story?
: A favorite fishing story?
Yeah, Oh yeah, I got many of em'. I can't tell ya all of em'. When I was guiding for ol' Elmo Hurst, he sent us out on a camp trip (he sniffles) I got my board in the boat, there were several boats of us on that trip and this one of my guys said,"Now, Jewell," he said, "we want a, I want to catch a trout that I can put on the board, put in my house where you can see it. If we catch a big trout." I said, "All right." Well, we left out from Elmo Hurst's dock and it wasn't 20 minutes until we caught an 11 pound brown trout. I said to em', I said, "Now that's the trout. Let's take this back to the dock over there, then we'll put em' on ice. Then you can have him fixed up later." "No," he said, "I don't think you will." "Oh yeah," he said," go ahead and gut that trout." I went ahead and took the guts out and throwed it in the live, the damned ice box and the rest of the trout we caught was about like that. (he puts his hands up showing us the size of a very small fish).
On a three or four day camping trip. He fixed himself up and I knew he did when he wouldn't let me take that back to the dock. Well, it wouldn't of took five, 10 minutes to take it back over there and put it on ice. Boy, he was wantin' one bad to put on the wall. That there we need to catch some more of them. I never will forget that. (He chuckles).
Huh, O.K. what about prices when you were a kid?.
A pack of gum, how much did that cost you as a kid?
Uh, gum, you mean a pack of gum? Oh, it cost ya a nickel, and a big bar of candy, a big bar of candy, a peanut bar, a peppermint candy, be that big around. (He shows a big circle with his hands.) They was that long. ( He shows the length with his hands.) You buy them for a nickel. A big ol' peanut bar. Sticks of candy. My mother would buy us as kids a stick of that candy and that was enough for all of us. That's for a nickel.
J: I was going to the state of Washington out there and I traded a nickel for a bottle of pop. Pepsi or Co.. Coke or somethin'. It was just a nickel back then. Well, we'd get way off out there and I'd get me a pop. And I ordered one out there somewhere and I throwed down a nickel and for that bottle of pop and they said,"no, it's a dime." And I said, "Well I don't want it." I just took my nickel and went on. Now what we payin' for it? (He laughs).
B: Was there a minimum wage? Did you work as a kid? How much did you make?
J: Oh, I started out with 50 cents a day, was about the best you could get, 50 cents a day.
B: What did you do as far as your first job, and what have you done?
J: Oh, I remember. I'd be helpin' somebody on the farm or somethin', I gathered corn, or dig potatoes, or pickin' beans, or pickin' cotton, I done a lot of cotton pickin'.
B: Are you retired from a job?
B: Are you retired from a job?
J: No, I went out to the state of Washington and worked out there on a big ranch for several years, and they had a big seed farm they had 900 acres of potatoes and I worked on that ranch and lots of alfalfa and lots of clover seed and they used that for seed. Well, they had bees there and they put me in as a bee man and put a state bee inspector with me to show me and tell me how to take care of them bees. So it wasn't very long the state bee inspector could leave me and I could take of myself. I worked at that for several years. I made pretty good money then. Imagine I made 7 or 8 dollars a day. That was big money then.
What did a gallon of milk cost you then?
J: I believe that a gallon of milk was 20 cents.
B: What about a movie?
B: A movie.
J: Go to the movies? Going to a movie, oh, you could go to the movies for a quarter. Picnic, have big picnics and big things to do out there. You could get in for a quarter.
B: What was the price of a house?
B: What was the price of a house?
J: Well, most houses just log houses that they built theirselves. Just ol' log houses. Say if you want a house built just go over here and cut logs and build it. And of course you didn't have money to buy lumber and stuff. I'll have to tell you another one while I'm talkin'. I built a house up on the mountain up there. (He sniffles) And, uh, when me and my first wife was married. There was this guy who had a sawmill over there. Andrew Jones, Hester Jones's, Jerry Jones's father. So I's bought good lumber, good as you want to buy for 10 dollars. A thousand delivered to where I built my house.
J: Now by golly that's somethin' to what it is now.
B: What about a car or truck, do you remember what you paid for your first vehicle?
J: I don't know I cain't remember what I did pay for it. Probably 4 or 5 hundred dollars. You could buy a new trucks then for 17, 1800. Good pickups, good car. Some of em' was $1200.
B: You don't remember the price of gas a gallon?
J: Nope, by golly I don't. I don't, it must have been, I'm gonna think it was 15, 20 cents. But we'd rent that car for the night for $2 and they would fill it up with gas. Course, we didn't burn all the gas out of it. But, we went quite several places. Now buy gosh we're talkin' bout' way back there.
B: Were you ever in any of the wars?
B: Were you ever in the war?
J: No, I never did go, didn't pass for some reason, health or somethin'.
B: What was it like living through those wars?
J: Well it wasn't too bad. After, uh, Roosevelt, when he was elected he brought us out of it. When he was elected president. Before that, 50 cents a day, if you could find a job. Most people didn't have that 50 cents, and they'd trade you hog meat, or a chicken, or some eggs, to pay. They didn't have the money to pay ya. 50 cents a day for 10 hours.
B: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
J: Yeah, I've got two brothers, I've got one half brother, and I've got my sister. And, uh, that brother of mine in Bull Shoals, Winruth, when he was a little boy he passed away when he was little. Didn't have no doctors.
B: How do you, how do you think that, do you think that people live longer now than they used to?
J: Oh, by far.
B: How do you think that you've managed to live so long?
J: I don't know, there's somethin' else. I remember used to when I was way back there when 40 years was old, was about the limit for most people.
B: Do you have any superstitions?
B: Do you have any superstitions? (He shakes his head no) Do you ever, have you ever known anybody that has had some strange superstitions.
B: What were some of those?
J: (He laughs) You mean superstitions, yeah hell, I don't know, don't know, just ta listen of it, kind of act funny.
B: Do you believe in any home remedies?
J: Yeah, but I don't know what it would be. Use to I had an aunt ah, that went to the woods and gathered herbs and stuff way back there, and she had em' hung all up on the walls of the house in little sacs. And if you had a fever she'd run that fever down. She had medicine for everything. She went to the woods and got herbs ya know, and a big ol' bunch of em' would work. She'd run a baby's fever down if it had a high fever. She made tea out of that. I mean had little ol' sacs all over the house.
B: Huh. Do you remember the depression?
J: You betcha', I was right in the middle of it.
B: How hard was it on your family?
J: It was dang hard. Hell, we'd eat groundhogs, opossum, coons, squirrels, what ever you could get. Somethin' else way back then, you couldn't buy lard, regular grease like we cook with now. You couldn't buy pure lard, ya know. They run about some, you couldn't get it, you had to use this ol' beef talard to cook your stuff in. You kill a big ol' beef and get that talard. Well I believe they called it talard. Well I know it was. And you cook stuff in that, boy, you couldn't hardly go without that. I don' like beef anyhow and I sure didn't like that talard. That's all I had. Say, you was gonna fry you an egg or some meat, fry it in that beef tabard. You couldn't buy grease.
B: Huh, did prices fall or rise during the depression?
J: Well, it was about the same. Roosevelt when he got in as president, why he, uh, he started WPA work. You'd get out here with a pick and shovel and work on these roads. Oh, I don't know, sounded like we got a dollar a day or somethin' like that. But he started all that work and stuff and just kept buildin' and buildin'. He got us up in pretty good shape. Now Roosevelt done all that. Now before all that, there was a bunch of Republicans that had it. By God, they starved us out. Boy, if Roosevelt hadn't got in when he did, there would be a lot of us I guess that died of starvation. But Roosevelt got things to goin'. But he put out stuff. You could go up there and get you a sac of meal or somethin' free, ya know around town. He had places fit for poor people to come in and get somethin' ya know. And that was Roosevelt. Now them Republicans had us starved out. A lot of people forgot that, but by gosh we didn't. Like you are you may be you're a, maybe you're a Republican. I don't know and it don't make no difference. I'm talkin' about way back there, buy god, they starved us out. Roosevelt, he got things movin' and done good ever since.
B: Do you remember any natural disasters, tornadoes, big snows?
J: Yeah, you bet. B: What is the biggest, what is the biggest you remember?
J: I believe it was 22 inches.
B: 22 inches of snow?
B: What about a tornado? Do you remember any big ones?
J: Yeah, we had em' come through here. Come through here one time and blowed a house away over there and killed a lady and blowed the top off of Harvey Parnell's house and went on through and done a lot of damage. Yeah, we, I was sittin' under that power line one night, Denny Puncdale and I we run, we had foxes with the hounds to run them foxes. We was sittin' under them power lines one night and it come up a big cloud. And it wouldn't of been any plainer than if a train would of went over our heads. It sounded like a freight train went over our head and it hit down over there and killed that woman and some more people. Just killed one I believe throwed a lot of em' away. They was some, ah, lets see, I believe Randy White's wife, blowed her way down in the field and she walked back. Out of the dang bed. You know Randy White up here. And I'll tell you Harvey Parnell, blowed him away, he lived down here and it blowed him, you know where they are buildin' that new house over there. Blowed him way down in that damn field, well he walked back. (I laugh) Now that's the truth.
J: Yeah, they'll tell you their selves.
B: Um, ah, how many houses have you ever lived in?
J: Have I ever lived in?
B: Yeah, like while you've been on your own?
J: While I've been on my own? Oh, I'm gonna say 8 or 10
B: How long have you been in this house?
J: Oh, about 15 year, about 20 year.
B: And you're 80 now, 80 years old. Do you remember any floods, any fires? Do you remember when the school gym burned down?
J: Yeah, we've had fires I believe. Flippin burned down out there one time, I remember.
B: How has Flippin changed over the years? What do you remember the most?
J: Oh gosh, you take Flippin out there, used to little ol' grocery store or two, and a gas station, and all the land out there all them lots out there you all gone back for taxes, you could buy all you wanted for nothin' all most. Pay taxes on em' and you could get you a lot. It might of costed you 10 or 15 dollars on taxes. Buy all the lots you want out there, and Mtn. Home was the same way. I've seen hogs there in Mtn. Home under them drips water out there. I've seen cattle in Mtn. Home. I've seen cattle in Flippin, had the outside range, free range. Hell, town, cattle in town.
J: Hogs too. Right there in Mtn. Home.
B: Do you remember when they built the dam?
B: On the, how did it change people's lives?
J: Well, it helped, it gave a lot of people work. It helped out a whole lot.
B: Were there a lot of, do you think that brought a lot of people into Flippin?
J: Yeah, I think it did. Yeah it brought a lot of people in here. There wasn't many people in this country til' that dam built. Very few, they was all ol' timers and natives here. But now, boy they have gained in on us. That don't mind bringin' 2 or 3 thousand dollars an acre, now I bought 5 40's of, 500, 5 40's of land right over there through that mountain for $80. That's how cheap land was. No tellin' what it would bring now, probably 100,000.
B: How much do you own now?
J: I've got 40.
B: 40 acres?
J: Yeah, I used to own a bunch of land and my wife and separated and this and that. I come out with nothin'. I came out with what I got here. We used to be pretty well hooked up, but not no more.
B: Have you ever seen, what's the highest you've ever seen the White River?
J: Boy, I've seen that over all the bottoms of the river. Gosh, I've seen it over all the bottoms. Raincoat's bottoms and all that covered in water. Now Buffalo one time, backed White River all the way up to Raincoats. Now Buffalo did that. You know where Buffalo's at? All right it backed White River up all the way to Raincoats. I was guidin' that day and I come into Raincoats, just a lake, just like you drove into a big lake. No water movin' just like that. And that's what happened, Buffalo got up so big that it backed that White River up to Raincoats, there's a lot of boys that will tell you that three different ones. I was lost when I came into Raincoats. Hell, I wondered where I was at. Ya know, it was like lake water ya know. Shoot, I was lost.
B: Do you think that the dam has caused the river to stay down? Have you seen it flood since the dam has been there?
J: No, I've not seen the river get up very big. 8 generators probably open flood gates too. They've got flood gates up there. I've seen them on 8 generators and flood gates, that's a lot of water. But they, they never have flooded them river bottoms and stuff. Never did do that since the dam was built.
B: How long did you guide on the river?
J: 25 years.
B: Did you work for yourself?
J: No, I worked for Elmo Hurst and different dock operators on the White River. Different operators.
B: Well, Jewell, I want to thank you for, ah, letting me come by and interview you.
J: Well, I'm glad to help you with whatever I could.
B: And, ah, I guess that this closes it up.
J: I'm glad to help
B: Thank You!
Interview and writings by Brad Goeke
Web page created by Ken Cowan