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What is American History? To many kids today it is boring information about subjects dealing

with war, government, and the suffering of our country, but as I attend my daily life I never stop

to think of the kind of role my family played in our countries history. As I interviewed my

grandfather, a part of our families history that was once hidden is now revealed. This interview

left me in amazement, helping me realize what an affect he had on our counties history and made

me appreciate it much more.

My mothers father, Shelby Walker Jr., was born at home in Depoy, Kentucky on

November 27, 1926. He was born the youngest son of Shelby and Pate Walker. He has three

brothers (Robert, Cloyd, and Clifford) and a sister (Ruthell). Pa grew up in a house with no

electricity, no water, and no phone. He had to share a room with three brothers as his sister

received a room to herself.

Unlike today, the kids did what they had to do to help their parents. By tending the

livestock, picking and plowing the gardens they did all the could to help out each other and put

food on the table. Back then, they received their water from a spring that was on the farm. This

spring had many uses. The milk they got from the cow was placed in a bucket and hung from a

board over the spring just low enough to put the bucket in the water to keep it cold so that it

wouldn t spoil. They also hung their homemade butter from the board in cheesecloth so the cool

air down in the spring would keep the butter fresh. In the summer they raised everything they

needed except, the only thing Pa said that they didn t have was sugar and coffee, which was cause

of the Great Depression. The wheat they raised would be taken to the local mill in Greenville to

be made into flour. The mill owner would weigh the wheat and estimate how much flour they

should get. Pa said the owner would take out a scoop of flour from each grinding for his pay.

Pa s father had the only grist mill around at the time, so many people would bring the corn over to

him to be grounded into cornmeal. They lived off the land with wild game and fishing,

occasionally they even killed hogs for pork meat. The food was cooked on a wood burning stove

and their light source was a kerosene lamps.

Each year, the children received only one pair of shoes. So in the fall his mother would

take him, his brothers, and sister to Gus Abrams Shoe Store, the only shoe store in Greenville,

where they bought their shoes. He also recalls Sundays as being special days. The young boys in

the community would get together to play horseshoes, washers, and especially marbles. They

even sometimes went exploring through the woods. He even today enjoys playing washers, going

fishing and camping.

Pa s education was very short. He attended Vernal Grove School, a one room school that

went from first to eight grade. Once Pa finished his eight grade year, which was around fourteen

years old, kids could then quit and go to work. As Pa reached the age of eighteen, he got his

drivers license. He said Him and his friend walked to Greenville one day and Pa told his friend,

lets go get our license. So they did. Back then, all you had to have was a license plate number,

so all the did was got a number off a car parked on the side of the street, took the written test,

passed, and received their license. They then walked back home because neither of them had a

car…mostly everybody back them drove road wagons pulled by teams of horsed on dirt roads.

He laughs about it today!

At age eighteen Pa went and served as Occupational troops in World War II. The war

was just over when he went to (European Threatre) Belgium, Germany, and France. He says that

he didn t see an fighting in the war, which was fine with him. He spent most of his time in

Belgium, where he got to see a lot of really neat places, especially from the ship he traveled on.

On December 22, 1946, Pa and Ma ( Lee Walker) got married in Greenville at Preacher

fox s home, he recalls this to be the happiest day of his life. Then within the following years,

farming then went bad, so Pa had to get a new job. he got a job with a road construction crew.

During twelve years at this job, they had five children. Then on January 2, 1958, Pa got a job

with Peabody coal Company, where he worked at River Queen on Highway 181. That s when he

bought the house with twenty-two acres at Cherry Hill, where he lives today.

Another happy memory that he recalls is his favorite vacation. It was when him and his

wife took a trip to Florida with his five children ages four through eleven. Since Ma was born in

Florida, that was the first time she had been back since she was eleven. He remembers the trip

back the most, they decide to go back through the Smoky Mountains. With there windows down

they decide to stop and see if they can see any bears. Just as Ma was passing out boxes of

Cracker Jacks to keep the kids still, a bear puts his paws up on the side of the car and tries to get

the Cracker Jacks. Pa said Ma squalled out and started hitting the bear with her purse, he thought

that was so funny!

My grandfather is an old timey type of person. He hasn t a lot of thought on technology.

He says that people are all the time asking him if he has a computer, he says no and they just

laugh at him. He say I m seventy four years old, what would I do with a computer. I m

perfectly content with my life as it is. As we spoke on the subject of technology, he said that he

felt strongly about credit cards.

Pa feels that people are not better off today. Even though there are a lot of positive

changes the future has brought us, it also brought us a time of hate, dishonesty, and pain. Back

then people were helping neighbors with their crops, looking out for one another and just being

trusting people, but today you hear about shootings in schools, robberies, and gang fights. This

is just the beginning, he explained just think what it will be like in the future if it continues? All

of my life I have made it on what I had, and if I didn t have it that day, week, or month I made

due with what I had. Today s world worries me with my grandchildren and great grandchildren

because so many of life s lessons are being lost. People over indulge their grandchildren. It is a

world of self-gratification.

As I asked Pa how he would like to be remembered as, he didn t know quite how to tell

me. I think he is a modest man. I want Pa to be remembered as a loving husband, a great father,

and a wonderful grandfather. A man who would do or give up everything he had to just to

support his family.

As I look back and compare the hard times and struggles that my grandfather went

through, I can only be thankful for what I have today; the discovery of medicine, education,

technology, clean water, heat in the winter, and air in the summer. Even though we have less

worries today, that doesn t make life any better. Money, fancy cars, jewelry, and nice clothes are

all just necessities of life. Things that tend to be over looked ,such as having a loving family, food

in your stomach, and a shelter over your head, are the things that matter the most. I agree with

my grandfather when he says Life is what you make of it!

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