Interview With Ott Wood


Lacie Ott: What would you rather talk about?

Ott Wood: Whatever you want to talk about.

Lacie Ott: Okay, we will start talking about school.

Ott Wood: Well I went to the old school house over there... you know where it is?

Lacie Ott: No.

Ott Wood: Right this side of Forrest's now, there in that flat, you know, down there by that creek. That's where the old school house was, that is where I went to school. Then they tore it down and then I went to school at the new school house. I got to the 8th grade and I had to quit... my dad got down with the arthritis and I had to help make a living.

Lacie Ott: What all kind of work did you have to do?

Ott Wood: Anything I could find.

Lacie Ott: Anything you could find?

Ott Wood: Hauled gravel, cut cedar, cut wood, hauled hay, 10 cents an hour.

Lacie Ott: How old were you when you had to quit?

Ott Wood: Probably 15 or 16.

Lacie Ott: 15 or 16?

Ott Wood: Yea.

Lacie Ott: What all did you do for recreation when you weren't working?

Ott Wood: Wasn't much to do.

Lacie Ott: Wasn't much to do?

Ott Wood: We'd play ball or shoot marbles or shoot craps or something, there just wasn't much to do (laughing). Me, Rob, and Aggie we would walk from here to Cotter to the show.

Lacie Ott: To the show?

Ott Wood: If you had 50 cents you could go to the show.

Lacie Ott: 50 cents? How far was it to Cotter?

Ott Wood: 4 miles.

Lacie Ott: 4 miles! Well how long did it take you?

Ott Wood: Oh, about an hour.

Lacie Ott: An hour, so you could walk for an hour, pay your 50 cents and watch the show then turn around and walk back?

Ott Wood: See you could go to the show for 15 cents.

Lacie Ott: Uh huh.

Ott Wood: Then you could buy a nickel box of popcorn and a nickel coke. So if you had 50 cents, you could take your girlfriend to the show.

Lacie Ott: Okay, so there was a show in Cotter. Was there any place to dance or?

Ott Wood: Oh yeah, gosh yeah. Cotter used to be rough. They had honky tonks and beer joints and everything else.

Lacie Ott: Okay (long pause) -- okay back to shcool, how many were in your class when you had to quit?

Ott Wood: Oh, I'd say 20 or 25.

Lacie Ott: 20 or 25?

Ott Wood: Yeah, Juanita Richie was the teacher, and boy could she whoop ya too (laugh).

Lacie Ott: Did you get very many of those whippins?

Ott Wood: No, but I got a few (pause) Mrs. Dawn was my teacher also. Dawn Phillips. Ned's mother (pause).

Lacie Ott: Did you have very many girlfriends in school?

Ott Wood: No, one.

Lacie Ott: That's all you had. (pause) Did you take her out a lot, to the movies?

Ott Wood: Wasn't no where to take here.

Lacie Ott: Have a picnic every year, that was about it.

Ott Wood: Okay.

Lacie Ott: Did ya?

Ott Wood: Lots.

Lacie Ott: What was one of your favorite fishing stories?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Lacie Ott: Do you have a favorite fishing story?

Ott Wood: No not really, but we used to catch a lot of fish. We... uhh, we lived down there by where Arnold Ray Johnson lives right now and we farmed that bottom and Pope and Jesse lived down there and Edgar and Uncle Will and Aunt Madden and we started plowing. We'd put out a throw line and we was plowing. We'd pick up the worms and put em in a can you know then we'd bait it that night. The next mornin' we'd go run em and catch the fish.

Lacie Ott: Okay (pause) Did you hunt a lot too?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Lacie Ott: Hunt, did you hunt a lot?

Ott Wood: Yeah, quite a bit. We'd opossum hunt, rabbit hunt, and squirrel hunt. Me and Mugs, my brother, we'd go up the creek, we lived over there where Smokey Macvay lives. We'd go up the creek, we lived over there where Smokey Macvay lives. We'd go up the creek when the snow would com on, kill rabbits and take em' home, and clean em', and throw them up on the roof of the house, let them freeze that night, and the next mornin' momma would have hot biscuits, rabbit, and gravy. Good eatin' too (laugh). But nobody had any money, nobody, see the banks went closed and anybody who had any money in the bank, they lost it all, so if you didn't raise it you didn't have it. (pause) We had our own chickens, and our cows, and we butchered hogs every year. We put out a big garden, and that is what you lived on. We growed our own corn to make meal, ground our own wheat and faset and take it to Harrison in a wagon to get flour made.

Lacie Ott: How long did it take you to get to Harrison in a wagon?

Ott Wood: Took about 4 days.

Lacie Ott: Took a long time.

Ott Wood: Yeah, but that is what you had to do. Otherwise you would not have none. (pause)

Lacie Ott: How much milk cost back then?

Ott Wood: Uh, we didn't sell any milk

Lacie Ott: You didn't?

Ott Wood: We just had our on milk and in the summertime we would put it in cistern to keep it cool (pause) but I...I... I don't know of anybody selling any milk because we didn't have any (long pause).

Lacie Ott: Were there any natural disasters?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Lacie Ott: Were there any natural disasters back then, like any floods?

Ott Wood: Yeah in 1927 we lived down there and had a flood an it covered up the Cotter depot. The put a whole bunch of engines, probably 10 or 12 engines on the Cotter bridge to keep it from floating away. There was houses coming down through there. Chickens and stuff come down that river. It had that whole bottom down there covered. We had it all broke up. We were gonna plant and it came that flood and just cleaned it off, cleaned it off as clean as that wall up there. We tarred and plowed that up and sewed it in whippoorwill peas. That's about what we lived on that winter. (pause)

Lacie Ott: So the flood was probably the worst.

Ott Wood: Yeah.

Lacie Ott: Did you have any bad snow storms?

Ott Wood: Gosh, we used to have bad snow storms all of the time (laugh) but I didn't mind it. When I got there on the account of this hand. They put me dispatchin' in the motor pool. I was dispatcher in the motor pool. We had an 800 bed hospital and uh we had ambulances, jeeps, and trucks. We hauled uh the food to the hospital to the nurses quarters. There was nurses quarters there and we hauled food to them and uh they'd uh, we'd have to go down to Panama Canal and meet the boats that would come in there with the people, sick people on them. We'd take em' to the hospital, we brought, we went down, me and the captain went down there and picked up one, he got burnt. Flame blowed up and the only thing sticking out was the tip of his nose. And uh we took him up to the hospital and he didn't live long. We went and picked him up and took him over to the morgue and we had to stand on the outside to drive, the scent was so bad. We couldn't stand it.

Sandie Melton: What did you do to your hand?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Sandie Melton: What did you do to your hand?

Ott Wood: Cut my fingers off.

Sandie Melton: But I mean how?

Ott Wood: A choppin axe. Me and a guy was cuttin wood. We went over in the woods to cut wood decided we would rest and I sat down on a log like that he stuck up the axe and didn't see my hand. My dad put me on a mule. We rode out here to Flippin to Doc Purdom and he sewed it back up (pause).

Sandie Melton: How old were ya?

Ott Wood: Oh, I was probably 12, 14, 15 years old, and I got my leg broke. We was raking hay right there behind uh, the restaurant, and uh, I crossed a ditch and the horse stumbled and stung by a wasp and kicked me and broke my leg. I laid flat on my back for 30 days.

Lacie Ott: Cuz you couldn't get up and move?

Ott Wood: Uh huh.

Lacie Ott: I can't imagine.

Ott Wood: You know what they put on my leg? Banana crates. They didn't have none of the plastic paris or whatever you call it. They put one on each side and one on the bottom wrapped tape around it but I uh laid there for 30 days.

Lacie Ott: How old were you when you got your first vehicle?

Ott Wood: You'll never believe it, but the first on I ever had was a Model T. We lived down there on the river. My dad bought it, didn't have no top on it. He drove it up and I said "Can I drive it in the garage?" "Yeah." Well, I got in there and everything I touched it kept going. It just went on in the garage and out the back and hit a tree and stopped (laugh). I couldn't stop it. Everything I touched kept it goin. But I guess the first car I ever owned was a Chevrolet. I was workin in Mountain Home and had to have transportation, and bought one, but it wasn't no good so I traded it off for a 1940 Model Ford. Best car I ever owned.

Lacie Ott: 1940 (long pause) Do you have any superstitions? (shakes head) No?

Ott Wood: No none. No superstitions.

Sandie Melton: Well didn't Aunt Linny have a bunch of superstitions about warts?

Ott Wood: Yeah, well she would just go out and rub your hand. It would get rid of em' if you didn't touch em'. I don't know how she done it but she done it. Don't ask me how she done it because I don't know. But uh, course we had a lot of hard times and ups and downs. Back then if you didn't work, you didn't live. And when we got married I had $4.00.

Lacie Ott: $4.00?

Ott Wood: We moved up there where Gayla Woods lives in an old house and we had nail kegs for chairs and uh, we had pace board boxes and paper to stop up the cracks. Bach then houses they didn't not have no insulation or nothin' like that. You know just and old box house. Had a little bitty cook stove. Wasn't no ice boxes or nothing like that.

Lacie Ott: Did you have a lot of family gatherings?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Lacie Ott: Did you have a lot of family gatherings?

Ott Wood: Oh yeah! Yeah quite a few. We would all get together and scrape up enough food to feed em' (laugh). Well we had a lot of fun back then. You didn't go no where. There was nothing' to do or go. So you didn't worry about it.

Lacie Ott: You had to make your own fun.

Ott Wood: Yeah!

Lacie Ott: When you weren't working.

Ott Wood: Yeah, well I had a croquet ground. We'd have a croquet tournament or a pitch tournament. You know and play all night. Eat breakfast and go home and go to bed, sleep all day. Yea we used to play pitch. Me, Sap, Linny and Ivone, Frank Karico, Rany, Burn, Burness, Glenness, Glen, Dennis Lee and his wife.

Lacie Ott: There was a bunch of you.

Ott Wood: Yeah! Well we'd go to our house one night, go to their house the next night and go to on Saturday night. We'd go somewhere else and play all night.

Lacie Ott: Eat breakfast then go home and sleep all day.

Ott Wood: Yeah!

Lacie Ott: When did you get your first television?

Ott Wood: Oh, when I lived out there at Cedar Crest. I don't know just what year it was. But I got it out there and Cedar Crest. It was the first one we owned.

Lacie Ott: Black and white and not very many channels?

Ott Wood: No, I could get channel 3, 10, l 4, and 17. But I'd have to go rurn the antenna to get it. (long pause)

Lacie Ott: Was the T.V. a big change? Was everyone excited to get one?

Ott Wood: Gosh yeah. Poor ol' Dan Kanel, he likes wrestlin and uh, he'd they did not have no T.V. and he'd come over to my house and he thought that was the true facts boy, he'd holler at em' and uh, and um, mostly me and Linny would go to the sale on Saturdays and I told him "Now if you wanna watch T.V. you go in there and watch it". I'd come home and he'd be in there watchin' wrestlin. He was a good ol' Dan.

Lacie Ott: How long were you married to Aunt Linny?

Ott Wood: 47 years.

Lacie Ott: 47 years? (long pause)

Ott Wood: That's a long time to put up with one woman you know it? (laugh)

Lacie Ott: That's a long time to put up with anybody.

Ott Wood: But we enjoyed it. We went a lot of places. Me and Sap and Linny and Ivonne were friends for a long time. 40 years or more. We hunted together and fished together. We went to Fort Smith and Little Rock to the State Fair. We'd go to the movie. You could go for 15 or 20 cents.

Lacie Ott: That has raised since then. So Cotter was the happenin' place?

Ott Wood: Boy, yeah. Cotter was rough. They had pool halls, liquor stores, and drug stores. Boy, Cotter was a busy place.

Lacie Ott: You couldn't tell it now.

Ott Wood: Has a big hotel, grocery stores. Doc Robbins was the doctor and I messed my finger up workin' at the factory, put a nail in it and I went down there and he dressed it and he said, "Don't get it wet." So I didn't get it wet. I used a washrag to wipe my hand and I went back the next day and he said, "You got your finger wet," and I said, "No, I didn't." He said, "You're a damn liar." (pause) But he was a rough customer boy. (pause)

Lacie Ott: That picture over there, was that your store?

Ott Wood: Yeah.

Lacie Ott: How long did you have that?

Ott Wood: Oh about a year and a half. I went and traded it to Bill Hogsley for the place out at Cedar Crest. I was glad to get rid of it. Them boys would rather come in there about 4:00 in the morning going fishin and stop to buy a pack of cigaretts. (laugh)

Lacie Ott: Did you sell gas?

Ott Wood: No. We went up in Missouri and worked in a cleanin' plant. When I left, I bought them khaki suits off Mack. Paid him the cleanin bill which was 75 cents and brought them back to the store and sold em' for $2.50 a suit.

Lacie Ott: You made a little on them.

Ott Wood: Yeah! (long pause)

Lacie Ott: What is one of your favorite stories you have told a lot of people?

Ott Wood: Huh?

Lacie Ott: Do you have a favorite story to tell people?

Ott Wood: I better not tell em' (laugh)

Sandy Melton: You could tell them one or two.

Ott Wood: Well, I was sittin' here one night listenin' to Minny Pearl. I'll tell you one of hers. She come in there and said I got robbed out there when I come in the door. Guy said he was gonna rob me. I told him I didn't have any money, he said. "Well I'll search ya." So she said he searched me. Said you ain't got no money. She said no but if you do that again, I will give you a check. (laugh) (long pause)

Lacie Ott: Did you go swimming a lot?

Ott Wood: Oh yea. All the time. (phone rings) (long pause) Was that Terry?

Sandie Melton: Yeah. Uncle Ott, tell Lacie about your brother dying. Your little, wasn't it your little brother?

Ott Wood: Yeah. Jim.

Sandie Melton: Yeah.

Ott Wood: He drowned. We was playin ball and me and R. A. Milums was umpires. Well it was hot and we were playing ball up at the school, and uh, when they got through they all went to the river and went swimmin' and of course it was hot and everything and they jumped in there and three other, the others drowned (tape stops). He floated down around the corner and we found him lodged up on a log.

Lacie Ott: How old were you?

Ott Wood: Oh, I was married. I was probably 25 or 30.

Sandy Melton: There was a lot of people who drowned in that river.

Ott Wood: Yeah.



Interview and writings by Lacie Ott
Put on web by Wade McBee