Interviewer: Melissa Twaroski and several unnamed interviewers
Interview Date: no date
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
Listen: Read Transcript
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
U.S. FOREST SERVICE, REGION 8
Interview with: Henry Watson
Interviewed by: Melissa Twaroski and several unnamed interviewers
Date: no date
Transcribed by: Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft; June 2013
[Transcriber’s note: There are voices in the background.]
MELISSA TWAROSKI: If you could just state your name in the tape and talk about when you first came to Piave and how old you were.
HENRY WATSON: That mean to state my name?
WATSON: I’m Henry Watson. I been living in Piave ever since 19-—off and on. I was [unintelligible; 0:16] 1930. And I went to school here. Heard them [blow the last? unintelligible; 0:23].
TWAROSKI: When was that?
WATSON: I can’t remember days, now. [Laughs.]
TWAROSKI: What year was that? Do you know?
WATSON: About 1932 or first of ’33 or something like that. It was one of the last mills to come out. The big Depression hit—it was in 1932. It started before that, but it got pretty bad. Soup kitchens started going and everything, where people get on line to get a meal. And it started feeding kids at their school houses. People that wanted, you know, [unintelligible; 1:06]. Then never did feed me because my daddy made a little bit more than some of the people did around here. But most of the kids eat at a soup kitchen and go down and get a bowl of soup [over there, down there? 1:20].
TWAROSKI: Okay. About how old were you when you moved to Piave?
WATSON: The exact date, I don’t know. But I started the ninth grade at about sixteen years old. I [drove a funeral bus? 1:37] when I was sixteen. I drove it two years. Before it shut down. I [unintelligible; 1:42] a year and a half. It shut down at Christmas. The [unintelligible; 1:46] teacher found out he wasn’t going to get paid, and he quit. Shut the school down, and we just lost that year.
TWAROSKI: What was the name of the school? Was it Piave—
WATSON: Piave High School.
TWAROSKI: Piave High School. Mm-hm. Okay. Let’s see. Well, when we were here earlier, you were telling us—
TWAROSKI: When we were here last week, a couple of weeks ago, you were telling us how the mill operated with the mill pond and the—
WATSON: You have to talk a little louder. My ear is [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2:26].
TWAROSKI: Okay. When we were here a couple of weeks ago—
WATSON: [I know about it. ? 2:30].
TWAROSKI: You were telling us about how the mill operated, with the train coming in around the mill pond.
WATSON: That was a big operation, [unintelligible; 2:45]. Then they quit [unintelligible; 2:48] machinery. If you got that map, we can look on it and tell exactly what it does.
TWAROSKI: [Apparently unrolls a map.]
WATSON: [unintelligible; 3:01] that railroad that’s coming out of the woods. That’s back on the [unintelligible; 3:07] side of town. This was a main line going through here. It had a passenger train and a freight train on it. But that main line that’s coming out of these woods and goes around and goes up, and there’s a [wire? 3:22] up there, and there’s a circle around where they turn around. The trains come back. They come on the other side of that mill pond from here. And when they got right here, that railroad was elevated. It was turned [unintelligible; 3:37] on the side. And those flatcars loaded with them big logs had shocks on them to keep the logs from rolling off. When they started around this mill pond, they took the chocks out. The cars leaned over. All the logs poured in this pond. They unloaded a trainload at a time. It’s still like they do today when they did it, unloaded what they could get to with a [forklift? 4:06]. But they unloaded. There was four trainloads, about twenty cars to each train, that they [cut? 4:12] each day. And I don’t know exactly what they [unintelligible; 4:17], but they said they cut over a million feet in a day.
The operation of that mill, the reason they could cut so much—and this big room right here with a hole in the upper end of it, a big chute where they just guided them logs, and that big chain guided them logs right off that chute. They were going fast. When they went through there, they went through a bunch of gang saws. It was probably twenty feet tall. They could cut any thickness of log. It could be six, seven feet, anything.
When they went through a bunch of gang saws. They may have a set to cut slabs twelve inches thick. When it went through that bunch of saws, they just fell apart out there, and they had five or six pieces, like, twelve inches thick and six inches wide. And they had to go through another set of gang saws. When they’d come out, just one slab of that probably made forty or fifty boards, that one [layer? 5:23]. I mean, it just kept going throw gang saws. They didn’t use one saw that tore them down like this. They cut the whole tree at the time. They cut all the boards up at one time. And they had little carriages and [roller beds? 5:35] and things that just kept pushing them right on through.
And they’d take it out on the yard and down to the [unintelligible; 5:42] and all like that right from there. But that’s the way we unloaded all the trains. And it was something to see, a whole trainload unload at one time. But it would beat anything they got today in time.
And the way they haul lumber—out on the yard, they used big [unintelligible; 6:03]. Their [unintelligible; 6:05] was that big around. [Demonstrates.] And they had [unintelligible; 6:11] twelve, fourteen foot tall. And a driver [unintelligible; 6:12]. And that [wagon was hard? 6:14] was hard. They’d have to back that wagon over a load of lumber, and [unintelligible; 6:21] eight foot tall out there. They’d back that wagon—they had triggers in the trucks, and they’d back that wagon up on there. It tripped the trigger, and that wagon [unintelligible; 6:30] that load of lumber. And they’d take it right on out on the yard. That was their [unintelligible; 6:38] if they had that in that day and time. That’s the way they moved a truckload of lumber at one time. [unintelligible; 6:45].
Right at the north of Long Avenue is that big horse barn. That’s where they get all them big horses.
TWAROSKI: What’s the name of that street again?
WATSON: Long Avenue.
WATSON: I tore that old mill down. I’m the one that took all the steel off of it. I was the only one that wasn’t scared to go up on top of that thing.
MAN: [unintelligible; 7:27].
WATSON: Me and a colored boy.
TWAROSKI: You were also telling us how they would—when they were out in the woods and loading the logs up onto the trains, they ran these big lines out into the woods and dragged the logs up to the trains, and someone—
WATSON: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 7:49].
TWAROSKI: —had to [cross-talk; unintelligible; 7:51] take them back out?
WATSON: They had mule skidders and had a [unintelligible; 7:58] a steel frame behind him, a big hook, and he [dug a cable? 8:01] off of a big skidder. The cable was a quarter of a mile long about it. They’d build a railroad about every half a mile, and they had the crews a’building railroads all the time and crews a’taking them up all the time and just moving them over. That skidder—that mule would take that—they were several. It wasn’t just one. They were several of these pulleys on that big skidder, and those cables were about a quarter of a mile long.
That mule would put this cable out to a log and hook to it, and the skidder would drive it back, and they’d pile them in great big piles, about thirty feet tall, right beside the main line, all the way up and down. And then when they come by with the train [unintelligible; 8:55]—I mean, they’d stop and load that bunch of logs up like that. But they had several of those—I don’t know how many. I know there’s several of those, probably six, a lot of pulleys a’hauling logs at one time on each side of that track. They had a mule and a driver—driving a mule and pulling it out to a log. Had men out there hooking it up. They had them ready to drag back as soon as they got to that log with that pulley, and drag them back and stack them up. You could go down a railroad track, and it would be pile after pile, about every fifty yards, about twenty-foot tall, a great big [unintelligible; 9:42], just stacks and stacks, waiting for the—they called them [unintelligible; 9:48] dummies to go come by and pick them up.
They had four [unintelligible; 9:55] dummies that pulled about twenty loads of logs each a day. They had a skidder crew that worked on a skidder. They had a train that pulled it. And then they had a crew doing nothing but tearing up railroad tracks and moving them, and they had a crew a’building railroad tracks. It was continuous operations, and they covered the whole country. And no truck whatsoever was used to haul any logs anywhere. They didn’t have a truck. It was all done by skidder and [a big long? unintelligible; 10:27]. And they can move a lot of logs. But when they move one of them logs, it was like a truckload of these poles that come by my house [unintelligible; 10:41]. Some of those logs had 6,000 feet of lumber in it.
TWAROSKI: Ooh! About how big in diameter was those logs?
WATSON: Some of them six, seven feet. It was estimated they were a little over 500 years old when they cut that timber. We studied that in school. When they cut a long now, that stump—you can go and count the rings from the center of that thing out and get the years. And they estimated most of them around 500 years old. And those rings were close together. They didn’t grow very fast. They was long-straw pine [sic; probably longleaf pine]. It’s not like this short stuff that [unintelligible; 11:26]. And those rings are real small, and it was pretty lumber. They were close together. We’d cut [pretty flooring? 11:36]. When they cut the flooring, they called it rip grain. They cut it to where the grains would be edge-ways, sticking up, and not flat-ways like a veneer board would have a big, wide [spots in there? 11:50]. It was cut where all the grains would be, where your rip grains, up and down. [unintelligible; 12:05].[unintelligible; 12:06] old Bunker Hill School, the biggest school in Marion County. Integration killed it back a few years, when they started this integration. I bought that school and tore it down, and I sold that lumber and built fifteen, twenty houses out of that schoolhouse. I got some of the boards. [unintelligible; 12:25] up here got some of those timbers in it. All the floor joists in the building was timber tens, twenty-two feet long. [The old men? 12:36] that didn’t have nothing but hand saws and it was like when they went over a stage, if they didn’t need but twelve feet, they didn’t cut it all. They [unintelligible; 12:46] twenty-two foot. They let it stick out. They had plenty of lumber. They wouldn’t fool cutting a piece of timber ten into—now what they didn’t need would cost ten or fifteen dollars just for the piece they would have cut off.
TWAROSKI: Well, now can you tell us about some of the people that you knew who lived in the town? You were telling us about the store owner. Was that Mr. Rubinstein [pronouncing it ROO-bin-stine], Rubinstein [pronouncing it ROO-bin-steen]?
TWAROSKI: No? He may have been gone by then.
WATSON: No, I don’t know the name of the—well, we had different—the company store—and they had company men that worked for them. John [Minniver? 13:36] was one of the clerks up there, run a store, and his wife was the postmaster at this time that this picture was taken. But over here was—this road circled around. There was a block. And it was two streets, one on this side of the railroad and one on this side of the railroad, about 400 yards apart. Well, as you went around the first corner right up there on the hill and come across to the next street over there, on that [A.B.? 14:15] Miles had a great big mercantile store. He sold everything: [unintelligible; 14:18], clothes, shoes, boots, everything you can name.
And right [above him? 14:25] was [Samuel Swinnel? 14:26]. He had a store up there. And there was a café in between them, and the little curve where—you go straight on across there, right side of my other store, and go behind it was his house was up on the hill. And on the left side if you went by his store was a hotel, a two-story hotel. And that street, on the right side—I don’t know if—have you ever heard of Jimmie Rodgers?
WATSON: You heard of Jessie Otto Rodgers? He was [unintelligible; 15:10]. He’s still [unintelligible; 15:11], I think. He [unintelligible; 15:14] Del Rio, Texas, for years. But he was well along. He was Jimmie Rodgers’ first cousin. And right in front of my other store was a little old shotgun house up there [unintelligible; 15:27]. That’s where he learned how to pick a guitar, sitting out there every evening, picking a guitar and singing.
TWAROSKI: Jimmie Rodgers’ cousin.
WATSON: Jessie Rodgers. He’s got records, lots of records. We used to walk down to [Simms’? 15:44] store. He had a big battery-operated radio. [unintelligible; 15:49] we had no electricity. Everybody around there, all the boys, go to Simms’ store, sit around a listen to Jessie Otto Rodgers sing over there in Del Rio, Texas, every Friday or Saturday night, whatever night it was. I don’t know when it was. But we had no radios and no TVs, no nothing. If you had a radio, it had to be battery operated, and the batteries they had then only lasted about a week, and you had to go have them recharged. You had to run your car battery to them.
Simms [unintelligible; 16:24] later on moved his store over on this side, over on the highway and built another store over here and put a post office in it. [Luradel? 16:39] run the post office. Now, when Simms closed his store, my daddy built one on the right side of the road up there. Well, I built a post office in our store. I got [unintelligible; 16:52] I made by hand where the mail chutes, where people could drop letters in there overnight or on Sunday when Mama and Daddy was asleep or something. You could drop mail in there from the outside of the building.
But when you went down from my other store, there was a two-story building down there. [Oliver? 17:14] Hollingsworth had a grocery store, and he lived upstairs and raised his young ’uns up there. Many years later, he went on up over there where the road curves and built a little old house right on the bluff up there and moved his store over on Highway 2. They finally sold to other people. I mean, they was a’following the highway because so many people left, they didn’t have enough customers. All of them moved over on the highway to try to [take their target? 17:53].
On this side of the road, you go down just one block and you’re at downtown Piave. That was all of it. All the business. The only other businesses were the company store up that hill. But when you went straight on around before that road turned, there was Bud Walker’s [unintelligible; 18:13] on the corner. The next place, there was an ice house that made ice for all the towns around here. Had that old concrete well back there, a big dug well—oh, it’s—[unintelligible; 18:28] [getting frogs out of it? 18:31]. It was a pretty big outfit, [unintelligible; 18:33] eight or ten feet by fifteen feet. I don’t know just how big it was. But that was a dug well they used to make water with, ice with.
TWAROSKI: Were you here when it opened, or was the plant already open when you moved here?
WATSON: That was here when I moved here. There was nothing built after I moved here. They tore it down after I moved here.
TWAROSKI: Last time, you told us kind of how that ice plant worked. Could you tell us that again?
WATSON: Basically [unintelligible; 19:00] ice back there. See, it worked just like that. I [unintelligible; 19:04] worked.
WATSON: They done [unintelligible; 19:10]. It ain’t been [long ago? 19:15]. They had a big vat full of brine. That’s salt, salt water. And they had these buckets. They were three feet tall and about eighteen inches wide by about two feet. And when they poured—when that bucket of ice is full, it weighed about 300 pounds. And they had pulleys. They’d reach down, and there were winches on it. They’d pull that. When it froze, they had to take a pulley and crank that ice up. Now, they [didn’t turn it over? 19:58] because it was slick. They had a chute. They would slide it [right on in the ice out? 20:01]. They’d fill the bucket back up and start [bringing? 20:05] it again. But that’s the way they—I don’t know how many buckets they had. Seemed to me like there was about four rows of them, probably have ten buckets in each row. Each one of them have 300 pound of ice when they took it out.
People come out of church and just get a truckload of ice and cover it up with sawdust and blankets, sheets, whatever they get to cover it up and haul it. All the little towns had a little ice house of their own. We lived way out in the country. Turpentine still. Way back there. We had a little building built beside a company store. The walls were about that thick [demonstrates], and then filled it full of sawdust [unintelligible; 20:56]. That was the insulation they used. They used sawdust back in them days for insulation, to keep it. Everybody wanted any ice, you go down and get a [nice? 21:07] block of ice. You get about twenty pounds for a dime.
And we needed sawdust so the ice [unintelligible; 21:12]. [unintelligible; 21:18] all the way around. Sometimes we’d get twenty-five pounds; sometimes, ten for a dime. [Chuckles.] Just depending on how it broke. [Both chuckle.]
TWAROSKI: Well, do y’all have any questions you want to ask him?
WOMAN: Do you remember if any of your teachers’ names in school?
WATSON: Any what?
WOMAN: Any of your teachers’ names from school?
WATSON: Some of them.
TWAROSKI: I know I can’t forget mine. [Laughs.]
WATSON: Juanita Lane was my English teacher. She hit me over the head with a paper rack one time. [Laughter.] You know what a paper hanger is, don’t you?
WATSON: Well, it’s built like a broomstick that’s split in the middle.
TWAROSKI: Oh, to hold the—
WATSON: And to hang it up, and all the paper they hung in there. She hit me over the head with it one time.
TWAROSKI: Heavy things. Heavy things.
WOMAN: What did you do to deserve that?
WATSON: I don’t know. [Laughter.] I got so many things, I don’t know what I done.
TWAROSKI: [Laughs.] Can’t remember that part.
TWAROSKI: Can’t remember that part.
WATSON: It might have been chewing tobacco and spitting out the window. I don’t know. [Laughter.] A lot of us boys did that back then.
I tell you, the last English teacher we had up here—she moved to McLain or Sand Hill [unintelligible; 22:54] and was a librarian down there.
And J.P. Mosley is the one that killed the school. But A.O. Nixon and D.C. Leach were two of the principals that run that school, and D.C. Leach is still a’living. Him and his wife gave a big grant of money to USM [University of Southern Mississippi].
TWAROSKI: Oh, yeah?
WATSON: Not too many years ago. He’s well off. He owned [unintelligible; 23:33] back the other side of Richton there. And A.O. Nixon went to—he left before D.C. Leach took over. He left here and went to Monticello to teach school. We went up there. Because he used to be our football coach, we went up there and played him in football, all the way to Monticello. I hauled [unintelligible; 24:03] 1928 A-Model truck.
TWAROSKI: Did you play baseball?
WATSON: Only football.
TWAROSKI: Only football.
WATSON: I played baseball and basketball, too, but not much for the school. I [unintelligible; 24:23] the Mormon church out there.
TWAROSKI: We heard about the Cotton States Baseball League?
TWAROSKI: Cotton States Baseball League?
WATSON: I don’t know.
TWAROSKI: Piave and Leakesville would play against each other?
WATSON: We used to have—those baseball teams they had back then, I played on a [unintelligible; 24:42] team when they had those.
TWAROSKI: [unintelligible; 24:45].
WATSON: We can come out here and play. They had a baseball team. Like, they’d play Bogalusa, Louisiana, and all them. But they weren’t school teams.
TWAROSKI: Right, right.
WATSON: They were outlaws, what we called outlaw teams.
WATSON: A bunch of married men [unintelligible; 25:00]. Back when the [unintelligible; 25:04] had a big ball team. They played basketball all over the country. I was a football player. That’s all I ever did. I quarterbacked the first football team that the school down here ever had.
MAN: [unintelligible; 25:25].
WATSON: Back then, you played every minute of the game. Didn’t take me out for nothing. [Laughter.] I quarterbacked the full hour.
TWAROSKI: And the Woodmen of the World [Life Insurance Society ?; 25:41] had basketball, all kinds of things back [cross-talk; unintelligible; 25:44].
WATSON: Never had—what’d you do with it?
MAN: It’s in the house, in the car.
WATSON: You ought to show it to her.
MAN: I got some more [unintelligible; 25:53] [on film? 25:54].
WATSON: He found [unintelligible; 25:56] up there around the old store [cross-talk; unintelligible; 26:00], Woodmen of the World. I had a first cousin that lived right here about a mile [around the river? 26:09]. Oh, he wasn’t one of these tall—like these boys are now, but he was so fast, he was a awful good ballplayer. Woodman of the World—I mean, what they did, all the old men that were good ballplayers, they kept them, you know, kept them. McLain had a good ball team. They had [Tom White? 26:30] and [Son White? 26:31] and all that back there, a great big tall boy that played ball all their life. They probably played twenty years.
TWAROSKI: Was there a cemetery? Was it at the church?
MAN: I don’t remember.
TWAROSKI: You don’t remember? Okay.
WATSON: The only cemetery we had here is up there at the [unintelligible; 26:54]. [unintelligible; 26:55] about the cemetery. There’s an old one over here in the woods, where the Mormons had a little church. If you live right here and go straight that-a-way, it’s about a mile and a half through the woods to where that church was.
TWAROSKI: And that was a Mormon church during the time of—
WATSON: The name of it was the [Church of] the Latter Day Saints.
MAN: Moved to Sand Hill.
TWAROSKI: Moved to Sand Hill. We’ve seen one in Sand Hill
MAN: That’s it.
WATSON: They stayed there for—way after the mill cut out. [unintelligible; 27:24] to go and build a new church at Sand Hill.
TWAROSKI: And they had a cemetery?
MAN: Yeah. [unintelligible; 27:36] had a CSA [Confederate States of America] monument [unintelligible; 27:36]. Most of [unintelligible; 27:43] 1926 to 1928.
WATSON: I [unintelligible; 27:47] figure out [unintelligible; 27:51] turpentine still. There’s about 1,200 colored people live there and three white families. Just the [unintelligible; 28:03] around the store were white. And there wasn’t but three white families. At one time, there was about five families, but I was raised with colored boys to play with. Daddy would whip me if he’d catch me playing with them. But I told him, “People I have to play with.” And I fished with them and everything else. But they was only three white families.
There was a big turpentine [camp? 28:30] below [Fremont Road Progress School? 28:31] down there. That’s where I was raised. So we moved from there to Piave. But they had this train. They called it a mud line. Passenger train, freight train coming to Piave. And I had a lot of kinfolks out here. I’d catch that train and come up here anytime I got ready. When I was only twelve years old, I rode a freight train to Piave up and back down here. I’d come to see my cousins out here. I’d kind of spend a week or two with them and catch that freight train back to McLain.
TWAROSKI: The last time, you said at the depot they had three names for Piave that they’d announce when the train stopped?
WATSON: When one of them conductors come through the train, he said pah-AYE, pee-AHV, pee-JOE. But that’s not what the colored people called it. They called it pee-AR-ee.
WATSON: Yeah, they couldn’t save pee-AHV. They called it pee-AR-ee.
TWAROSKI: Last time, you said that there were two hotels?
WATSON: Actually, it was three hotels and one colored hotel. I ain’t count it.
WATSON: But I don’t remember it much, but I never was around it much. I just remember—I just never went up there. They had their own colored school and white schools, too. And they were separated. All I never knew growing up is where all the white people lived on Short Street and Long Avenue. And on the other side of the [unintelligible; 30:04] it was mixed breed. It was colored and white. But there wasn’t no [big fine home? 30:10]. [unintelligible; 30:12] [big fine home? 30:12] was [unintelligible; 30:14] mill built. All these little houses around here, except those two that were homesteads—right on top [unintelligible; 30:24] and old Taylor Homestead used to [unintelligible; 30:29]. It was [unintelligible; 30:33] a few years ago. It ain’t been—I don’t know how long it’s been gone, but it ain’t been gone long. And [unintelligible; 30:38] lived down there about a half a mile, [unintelligible; 30:42]. They were there.
MAN: Then you had the [Doc Henderson? 30:44] estate up here. That’s his barn or house up here.
MAN: He’s a doctor?
MAN: They call him Doc. I don’t know his name.
MAN: They raised twenty-two kids in that house.
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 31:01]. [Laughs.]
MAN: He owned a lot of land. He owned more land than any of them, [unintelligible; 31:04].
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 31:10].
TWAROSKI: We found out that all this land around here was bought by a Delos Blodgett?
WATSON: Say what?
TWAROSKI: All the land, about 60[,000], 70,000 acres of land was bought by a man named Delos Blodgett from Grand Rapids, Michigan, right at the turn of the century and that he operated all these mills down here. You know, Piave got to be one of the biggest after it was sold several times.
WATSON: Piave was [cross-talk; unintelligible; 31:37].
TWAROSKI: There were dozens of [cross-talk; unintelligible; 31:40].
WATSON: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 31:40]. According to our history book, we studied it, about Piave, and it was the second-largest sawmill in the world.
MAN: But [you got to save them? 31:48]. That’s [unintelligible; 31:49].
TWAROSKI: That’s what I heard.
WATSON: There’s only one bigger than this, and that was the Great Southern in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
TWAROSKI: That’s what we can’t find, [cross-talk; unintelligible; 32:01`].
MAN: And the original [unintelligible; 31:59] Paoggi, P-a-o-g-g-i, but [cross-talk; unintelligible; 32:02].
WATSON: That letter you wrote, that Luradel wrote—
TWAROSKI: Yeah, I got that.
WATSON: —will tell you more than anything else.
TWAROSKI: I got that.
WATSON: Now, when they come in contact and own Piave, but L.O. Crosby’s family owned it when it shut down.
MAN: And you had a fine timber company on a lot of [cross-talk; unintelligible; 32:23].
WATSON: And they moved a whole town across the Mississippi [River] and built the town and named it Crosby. They just went out in the woods and built a town. They owned everything in it: the service station and everything, and built the town and moved this mill over there. And they said they will operate forever. Now, whether it’s still operating, I don’t know. It’s [unintelligible; 32:45]. [unintelligible; 32:44] cut the logs, you know, and cut them as they grew. But I don’t know—I never did go—I’ve been through Crosby, but I have never been down over there since [unintelligible; 32:59]. Years ago, I went through Crosby. That’s how Crosby got its name. But L.O. Crosby from Picayune owned it. And he lived here. I knew him. But according to Luradel, it was some foreign country owned [unintelligible; 33:12].
TWAROSKI: Yeah, that’s what it said. That’s why we couldn’t understand if this guy, this Blodgett, if he was Italian or if the operator was Italian. We went through all the deeds, but—
WATSON: But Blodgett. There’s another mill that was named Blodgett, but it wasn’t as big as this.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, there were a lot of Blodgetts.
WATSON: There was a Blodgett mill.
TWAROSKI: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 33:38] called Blodgett. Mm-hm.
WATSON: I can’t remember just where it’s at, but I’ve heard of it for years all my life, old Blodgett.
WATSON: But they was another mill altogether.
MAN: [unintelligible; 33:50] there was only two [unintelligible; 33:54].
WATSON: But L.O. Crosby was the owner of Piave when it moved from here. The Crosby family—they’re a big outfit. They owned mills. I don’t know what they owned, the whole town of Picayune, just about down there.
WATSON: And they are [proud of it? 34:10]. They got turpentine stills all back in and [unintelligible; 34:14]. Crosby operated.
MAN: [unintelligible; 34:19]?
TWAROSKI: Nn-nn. We haven’t done that. But we were reading the papers, and it did mention—when was that? What year was that?
WOMAN: Nineteen twenty.
TWAROSKI: Nineteen twenty? That the Virgin Pine Lumber Company had bought the mill from Italians and that they were happy that it was now in American hands, and that’s the only reference we could find other than this.
MAN: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 34:40] burnt and rebuilt.
TWAROSKI: Burnt and rebuilt.
WATSON: There was another town just two and a half miles down here. I know right over here, across the Mason Creek. But another town, Carson City. But it was gone and disappeared when I [unintelligible; 35:00] back down when I was a kid. You could see the sign where it was. But [he’s left here? 35:05] years before. I don’t know what [unintelligible; 35:11] operation to start with, and I don’t know what killed [it? him? 35:13].
What’s the name of that little old town down here? I know [unintelligible; 35:19].
MAN: The [unintelligible; 35:22] sawmill?
TWAROSKI: Yeah, down that road [unintelligible; 35:25] lived.[cross-talk; unintelligible; 35:35]
WATSON: My mind is getting—
MAN: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 35:33] [further down? 35:34]. [unintelligible; 35:49]. Look out in that field, you see the big [unintelligible; 35:49]. The only thing that’s left of it [unintelligible; 35:51].
WATSON: I don’t remember what Blodgett was, but I’ve heard about Blodgett all my life. Back then, I knew people that had been reared in Blodgett one time.
TWAROSKI: The way everything [sic] talks is that there were just dozens of little mill towns all over here. Within, what, twenty-four miles there were twenty-seven mill towns on the same stretch of railroad.
WATSON: Well, we had [Baird? Bird? 26:17], and we had Avery and [Boffle? 36:18] and all them places down there had mills in them. Yeah, they were scattered everywhere. Avery was a pretty good-sized mill. They had a pretty good-sized town, either.
MAN: Yeah, Avery had [cross-talk; unintelligible; 36:30].
WATSON: It wasn’t as big as—they had a bottling plant in Avery one time. You could still find bottles bottled in Avery, Mississippi. It sure don’t look like a bottling plant there now. [Laughter.]
MAN: Was there a sheriff in the town?
WATSON: A what?
MAN: A sheriff?
WATSON: We had a deputy sheriff. You see, where they’re [pulling this slab? 37:00] down here, they’re building a [unintelligible; 37:05]. I’m in charge over there. That was his home right there. It faced the street out there. It wasn’t quite as far back as that building is, but they were facing the church. There was a row of houses right there. And [Riley Bird? 37:24] was the sheriff for years and years around here. But he was a deputy. You remember [William Kenneth] “Kenny” [or “Kinnie”] Wagner?
MAN: I’ve heard [cross-talk; unintelligible; 37:38].
WATSON: You ever read the book of Kenny Wagner?
MAN: I’ve read a little bit of articles about him in the newspapers.
WATSON: Well, he was Mississippi’s most famous killer and killed a lot of people. And every time he’d get out, why, Charlie Wade down here was a deputy, and he—well, there’s a long story about Kenny Wagner, but anyway, when he killed his first man, they were after him to put him in jail for stealing a watch, but he said a friend gave [it to] him and he wouldn’t tell on a friend, but he didn’t steal his watch. But anyway, during that shootout, [McIntosh? 38:27] got killed. He was one of the sheriffs. [Transcriber’s note: was he a sheriff or another deputy sheriff?] Kenny Wagner [unintelligible; 38:37] to do it, and he often said, when he got out of [unintelligible; 38:42], he was going to kill Charlie Wade. When he had escaped—he escaped several times, and got out of [unintelligible; 38:51]. He walked away [unintelligible; 38:50] when he got good and ready. And he killed two FBI men in Memphis, Tennessee.
MAN: I read that.
WATSON: Tried arresting him. He killed several people. I got his book, but I can’t find it. I believe [unintelligible; 39:06] bought it and then [unintelligible; 39:07]. I got the book, the life story of Kenny Wagner. [unintelligible; 39:15]. He was Mississippi’s most—I don’t know, most popular gangster [unintelligible; 39:24], but it’s a nice story, a good story to read. But anyway, Kenny Wagner used to come up here, and my uncle [unintelligible; 39:38] often visited them down here about a mile and a half.
Now, you heard of—there’s railroad tracks over here where the mud line—you heard Jimmie Rodgers sing about the mud line, the mule skinner on the new mud line? That was it. And they were building to Piave from McLain. That railroad was built all the way from McLain just to Piave to haul lumber. It was twenty-eight mile long. And they called it the mud line. And Jimmie Rodgers made songs about it. You can still hear those records. [Transcriber’s note: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ0ppOZ967k]
MAN: Did the town have a mayor?
WATSON: Now, it wasn’t big enough for a mayor. They didn’t know what that was back then.
TWAROSKI: Did they have their own money, their own coins, or did people use [cross-talk; unintelligible; 40:38] money?
WATSON: All company stores had their own money. They wasn’t [unintelligible; 40:44] like these tokens. They came out of—Hugh White started the token. He was a the governor of Mississippi. Everybody said when Hugh White got elected you didn’t have [unintelligible; 40:55] to contend with because he was a sawmill man. [Chuckles.] And they use a lot of counterfeit money. But the stores used a coupon book, just like these food stamps is now. They had dollar books, five-dollar books, ten-dollar books and twenty-five-cent pages in there, and nickel pages. Had a lot of nickel and dimes because stuff was cheap back then. You could buy something with that nickel. Ain’t no more nickel stuff. I used to get ten Hershey drops for a nickel. Now they’re ten cents each. It’s kind of different [unintelligible; 41:35].
I was looking at [unintelligible; 41:39] checkout counter over there, [unintelligible; 41:42]. They were always two for a penny for me. You give a penny, you get him [unintelligible; 41:47]. I bought seven cents’ worth of bananas one time in [unintelligible; 41:52] and I couldn’t tote them. [Laughter.]
TWAROSKI: Not any more.
MAN: Do you remember when the ice company closed?
MAN: Do you remember when the ice company closed?
WATSON: I don’t remember exactly when it closed, but it ran for two or three years after the mill shut down. People come from McLain up there and everywhere to get ice for two or three years after it shut down. I’m not good at remembering dates. It just didn’t interest me back then.
MAN: Did you have a place where you’d dump all your trash, a trash dump anywhere, a community trash dump? Or did they just dump it behind their own homes?
WATSON: Most of them was behind the house. You haul it around and throw it [unintelligible; 42:47]. About the worst thing they ever done, throw trash in a stream.
WATSON: But they’d find a place out in the wood, everybody would start dumping. Used to be right here about two miles, between this road that goes out, turns to the right out there just outside that store, and you go out there about two and a half miles, the road that cuts across to 42, Highway 42. It’s about a mile and a half long. It’s on government land. Everybody used to go out there and [unintelligible; 43:25] whole acres out there. That’s what most people—and there was one over here close to Sand Hill Creek just off this [unintelligible; 43:29]. There’s one little dump. We got rid of it the best way we could. Wasn’t no garbage truck or nothing like that. And people couldn’t afford—back then, when a mill shut down, people couldn’t afford to pay you five cents to pick up garbage. There was no money, period.
When [Herbert C.] Hoover was president—you know, they made a lot of rhymes up about Hoover, about “[unintelligible; 43:59] Washington / Hoover is his name. / He took away [unintelligible; 44:04] and give us [golden grain? 44:05].” That was little sacks of tobacco, you know.
And then when [Franklin D.] Roosevelt went in office, it was about a “[unintelligible; 44:17] Washington / Roosevelt is his name / He [unintelligible; 44:18].” They had a big rhyme about he made monkeys out of everybody and planted trees [unintelligible; 44:22]. [Laughs.] He started all the CC camps, you know.
TWAROSKI: That’s right.
So after the sawmill closed, people just kind of slowly wandered away?
WATSON: Well, when it shut down, it died overnight because all these people that lived up here, except a few houses, disappeared. They went straight to [unintelligible; 44:50].
TWAROSKI: [unintelligible; 44:52].
WATSON: But some of the people that the mill didn’t want to take, left them here, and these people down around in this neighborhood—they was [stationary? 45:04] people, and like Old Man Miles over there, he run the store a long time, but he couldn’t make no money here. Business got so bad, he moved his store to Shubuta. And [Sam Swinnell? 45:19]—he retired. He closed his store and went home. And that’s when my daddy opened up one up there, right after they died. And then [unintelligible; 45:31] up there. But he left here. He got rid of it.
TWAROSKI: What happened to all the mill houses? We were reading how modern they were, with electricity and running water and everything.
WATSON: They [unintelligible; 45:51]. A man come here they told me worked for the government. I don’t know who he worked for or nothing about it. But I helped tear down a lot of those houses. All the boys in this country lived around here tore these houses down. They paid us a dollar and a half a thousand to tear the house down, pull the nails out of it and stack it out on the road. And I don’t know. A lot of those houses were sold whole. You could buy a house for ten, fifteen dollars, a big, nice home.
MAN: One of the houses on First Avenue—
[End File 1. Begin File 2.]
WATSON: —for fifteen dollars and tore it down and moved it to Pritchett, Alabama. That’s the way—[unintelligible; 2-0:08] house, they sold it ten or fifteen dollars. But who that fellow was, they come here and paid us to tear them houses down. I don’t even know who hauled the lumber off. But you could buy it for a dollar and a half a thousand. My daddy bought a big barn down here. He paid a dollar and a half a thousand. He got his lumber out of the planer mill [unintelligible; 2-0:28] when they tore it down. I don’t know who had the place tore down or not. I don’t think the company would have anything to do with it.
Jack Calhoun built [unintelligible; 2-0:43] company store on the left. He said he was in charge of it. He was the one that hired me to tear these buildings down. I worked for him a lot. I drove a truck for him. And he was the one that hired me to take that steel down. Why, he took it off and sold it. I don’t know whether the company got any money or whether they just [unintelligible; 2-1:03]. They left a freight train up there. I used to sit on that freight train shooting ducks. And he had it cut up and hauled it off. He was going to haul it off on a track, but there wasn’t no track. But he had it cut—cutting torches and tore it down and moved it. It sit there for several years. I used to sit up [unintelligible; 2-1:27] shooting ducks out the window.
TWAROSKI: Well, last time you said that there were twenty-seven bootleggers in—
WATSON: That’s what this is.
WATSON: And there was a lot of them. It might not have been twenty-seven, but there was a lot of them.
TWAROSKI: We were reading a lot about people getting caught making the shine, the shinny.
WATSON: Well, the biggest still [unintelligible; 2-1:55] ever seen was right over there, but that was way years later. When we first come to Piave, nobody had a job, and a lot of brewers lived around here, like, [unintelligible and unintelligible]; 3-2:08] up there. A [unintelligible; 2-2:10] brewer was there. Everybody—all them fellows would sell home brew, homemade home brew and moonshine whiskey. And I don’t know where they could get customers. [unintelligible; 2-:2:19] down here and [Al Gordon? 2-2:30] were two more bootleggers. I could name you about ten, but they [unintelligible; 2-2:34] about twenty-seven. But they’d give a juke. That’s better known as a dance to a lot of people, but back then there wasn’t nothing but jukes. And they had one old nigger up there that played the guitar, and [“Jukin’ Cleve”? 2-2:49]—that was all I ever heard him called. But every night, two or three nights a week, somebody’d give a juke, just so they could sell moonshine and beer. But as far as twenty-seven, I don’t know how many there was, but I tell you what: the town was full of them.
WATSON: You could buy home brew at about any house that you knock on the door.
TWAROSKI: [Chuckles.] Do you remember any other old stories about some of these jukes and things?
WATSON: Not a lot.
TWAROSKI: You were telling us some stories about some of the jukes, someone having a home brew in a stove and it exploded.
WATSON: That was right over here where you see [Dudley Roland’s? 2-3:30] house. It’s the little house right on that curve there. It was one of the railroad houses. There’s three houses up there, [down the railroad gets to pass the highway? 2-3:38]. They made home brew, homemade home brew. Well, it was cold, and they added home brew [unintelligible; 2-3:52] in the stove. And, aw, there’s a lot of people there juking and dancing and talking and messing around. Some of them girls got cold, and they decided to build a fire. The old stove was heated with wood. Everybody’s house was heated with wood. They built a big fire in that stove to warm up that little old kitchen because the girls were freezing to death. And when that stove got hot, that home brew exploded. And about twenty-five bottles of home brew in there. You had three inches deep in the dance floor right pretty quick. [Laughter.] It come out [unintelligible; 2-4:38]. It just exploded, like a stick of dynamite went off when that home brew exploded in that stove. Shep—I don’t know what he was doing. He ought to have been watching his stove full of home brew. But anyway, it blowed up.
I didn’t dance. I never could dance. But I’d go to them. I’d go to them and watch them cut up out there, watch them [unintelligible; 2-5:05]. They had a fight—they had nearly a fight nearly every time—you got to see a lot of excitement around there. Nearly every one you went to, they had a fight. I went to a big party up there on this road that goes up by the church. They had a juke up there one night. Al Gordon down here made whiskey and sold it, and the [Hendersons? 2-5:25] sold whiskey and home brew. Al come up there with a big old overcoat on, loaded down with pints of moonshine. They wanted to run him off. Well, Al, he was a tough of codger [which he pronounced COO-juhr] and about [unintelligible; 2-5:40]. He didn’t run. So they got in a fight. Now, Otis, the boy—he’s about a year older than me—he run out in the woodpile and got a [unintelligible; 2-5:55] bat, [unintelligible; 5:57] looked like a ball bat.
And Jim Brewer—he was going to help run Al off. He was taking up for the people at the [house? 2-6:06]. [Chuckles.] Well, they got tangled up out there, and Otis run up to hit old Al, and he come down with it. He missed Al—[unintelligible; 2-6:14] or something. He caught old Jim [unintelligible; 2-6:17]. [Laughs.] That [unintelligible; 2-6:20]. [Laughs.] Yeah, he got in a lot of trouble [unintelligible; 2-6:25] but it never did get him hurt much.
WATSON: And that was a bootlegger’s party. But they had the bootleggers here, now. Every [unintelligible; 2-6:36], there’s a bootlegger.
TWAROSKI: What kind of music did Jukin’ Cleve play? [Transcriber’s note: Was it Cleve or Cleasy?]
WATSON: Just a guitar.
TWAROSKI: Just a guitar? Kind of a blues?
TWAROSKI: Kind of blues kind of stuff or—
WATSON: All he did about it was hit it and stomp his foot. [Laughter.] And there wasn’t no jitterbugging or nothing like that. That was before jitterbug time. They done a lot of square dancing, like [all the time? unintelligible; 2-7:03] would call them. They had a lot of square dances back them. A lot of people had square dancing. I liked to watch them.
TWAROSKI: We were reading a lot of stuff in the paper about a lot of the—about the rich folks having ice cream socials and little parties like that, and they’d write it up in the paper, and [chuckles] it was pretty funny. And barbeques, lots of barbeques.
WATSON: They had a lot of killing and stuff going on around Piave. Nobody ever got caught. People knew who done it [unintelligible; 2-7:48], but there never was anybody arrested.
But my best friend, Billy Gibson—he lived right behind the schoolhouse. There’s one house right directly behind the [golf course? 28:05] that school out there. He and his wife—he went off , hunting jobs around, you know, and he couldn’t find no work. He was traveling all around. He went off and left her a pretty good while, and he come back home and decided to leave again somehow or another, and [unintelligible; 2-8:30] Mr. Jones’ wife’s brother—his name is Fondelou? 2-8:33]—they said he disappeared—they was going to take him down to [unintelligible; 2-8:39] or somewhere to catch a ride. That was a [unintelligible; 2-8:45]. I mean, that was [unintelligible; 2-8:46]. They found him. They found Mr. Jones about a month later right down here where 42 turns off and goes to state line. Well, right down that hill a’piece, where the old [unintelligible; 2-8:59]—I mean, the old train road from McLain. Saw that railroad track with Jones’s body with about ten buckshot in the head. Ain’t nobody ever questioned Fondelou, but he was the last one that [got him? 2-9:15]. That was his brother-in-law.
TWAROSKI: What about some of the pranks all the boys used to pull on Halloween?
WATSON: Oh, we were so mean, I don’t know. I hate to tell all those things. [Laughter.] The biggest prank we ever done was Halloween night we turned over ever toilet in the town. If we could find a little toilet, we turned them bottom side up. There was a big café down on that corner down there. [Step? 2-9:57] Turner was the man [ran the? 2-9:59] the café. Across the road out there was the road boss lived in the house out there, the road boss, and he had several cords of wood cut up, and we toted wood half the night and stacked it all up and back across that front porch. They couldn’t even get to the café till t hey hired a crew of niggers to come by and put that wood back [and put it up? 2-10:24]. [[Chuckles.]
Over on the ice house, we put a eight-wheel log wagon on that little old porch. One of them Bird boys, [unintelligible; 2-10:40]. We’d been over to [unintelligible; 2-10;40]. I don’t know what they were doing, but they had a pine pole out there about thirty foot long. We decided we’d prop that line up there where maybe [unintelligible; 2-10:50], where they couldn’t move it. And just as he got up about ten foot of the drugstore porch, Old Man Pinchpenny—that’s what we called the druggist. He was tight. We called him Pinchpenny. Come out in a little old [unintelligible; 2-11:05], shot right over [unintelligible; 2-11:03] head. Well, I had to back into the log up [unintelligible; 2-11:08]. [unintelligible; 2-11:090] down and took off. It split my arm from my [elbow to my hand? 2-11:12]. [unintelligible; 2-11:18]. If he’d have shot at him, he’d have killed him because [unintelligible; 2-11:22], I told him. [Chuckles.] And he’d shot him.
We had a [unintelligible; 2-11:27]. [unintelligible; 2-11:28] the same thing now, but we had more to do. We had a lot more boys in Piave. Before all them boys left here, we had a lot of boys that rode these streets, trying to figure out something to do.
TWAROSKI: What about the skeleton?
TWAROSKI: The time you took the bones to school.
WATSON: [Laughs.] Well, I don’t know. They said that they [unintelligible; 2-11:49]. He’s buried right over there, just this side of where you go to [unintelligible; 2-11:55]. That’s the right side of the road. They said he died in a carnival. There’s all kinds of carnivals coming all the time, and [him dying? 2-12:05]. They picked him up and buried him beside the road. Years later. We knew where the grave was. We dug him up because there wasn’t no meat on his bones or nothing. It wasn’t nothing but a pile of bones. We dug him up and wired him together and took him to school. And it like run all those women off one time, they seen that skeleton. [Laughter.]
TWAROSKI: What did they do with it afterwards? Did they carry it back?
WATSON: We carried it back down there and put him back in the hole we dug him out of. [Laughter.] He’s [unintelligible; 2-12:37]. It ain’t marked or nothing. We just knew where it was.
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-12:42] came out [unintelligible; 2-12:45].
TWAROSKI: Can you tell us more about some of these carnivals and what kind of shows they had and things that come through?
WATSON: I couldn’t tell you much about them, but they had a lot of them. I know they called them—they mostly sold soap, stuff like that, you know. They would come to town in a little carnival, and they’d peddle soap, tell you what all it would do, you know, and sell it. They’d sell you anything. They’d sell you [unintelligible; 2-13:22]. It wasn’t [unintelligible; 2-13:20], but they had elixirs made up that would cure anything, you know, and sell it and then put on a show.
A lot of times, they had boxing matches on a night the carnival come. Every town had rings like McLain. I fought more in McLain [than] I did [unintelligible; 2-13:50]. They had more of them back then. A carnival come to town, they’d have boxing matches in [unintelligible and unintelligible; 2-13:55] and Mobile, Memphis, Tennessee, and all around. They’d put on boxing matches, maybe eight or ten. They’d have a [man? Main? 2-14:07] bout, and then they’d put kids in there.
They way they paid us—I fought every week when they come out there, so they’d pay you good. They’d throw money in the ring if they liked the way you fought. And we’d pick it up. The harder you fought, the more money you got. I tried to whip everybody that got in the ring fast when I got out there. But that’s the way they pay us. Because I know carnivals was [unintelligible; 2-14:43]. I bought some of the soap through it. I was just a kid, but the way they talked, they sold me on the idea I needed some.
WATSON: I killed a rattlesnake about six feet long. It had about fifteen rattles. I run over it with my school bus. I drove a school bus when I was eight years old.
WATSON: I run over this rattlesnake and killed him, but it [unintelligible; 2-15:09] and a stick. I carried that rattlesnake to town on the back of that truck. That old fellow said, “If you hadn’t have killed him, if you caught him alive, I’d have gave you a hundred dollars for it.” That would have been a million dollars then, now. I said if I ever seen another rattlesnake that big, I’d get me a rope or something and catch him alive. I’d get a hundred dollars for him alive. That was some kind of a big rattlesnake. “If he came alive, I’d have gave you a hundred dollars for him.”
They wouldn’t let kids drive a school bus now. [Laughter.] But my daddy was different from any other daddy and mama. Daddy ain’t care what I done. I rode freight trains before I was twelve years old and drove a school bus when I was eight, and I drove a school bus all the time I was in school, till I come to Piave. I drove the bus up there, too, but I wasn’t old enough to drive a bus when I come in, but I drove it. I mean, this day and time, I wouldn’t have been old enough. But I was big enough to play football and drive a bus when we come here.
The first bus I drove was a 1921 model Buick. It had four seats in it, and a motor was about seven foot long. It was a big [unintelligible; 2-16:41] engine, eight cylinders all in a row. It took about a block to turn it around, it was so big. We hauled all the football players on it, and I drove a school bus that held eighteen young ’uns in that truck—car. It was, I reckon, about the biggest car built back then.
MAN: Did you stand on the running boards?
WATSON: It was a touring car. The top [unintelligible; 2-17:12] down, and it had four seats in it. Well, the kids were hanging—they weren’t worrying. They were sitting on the side. [Laughter.] And my brother tore a car up. He hauled about eighteen girls down the river [unintelligible; 2-17:25], [unintelligible; 2-17:26] girls, and stuck it in the mud over down there and stripped the gears. That was the end of our big old Buick. [Laughter.] The next school bus I got was an old T model.
I wish I could [call back to y’all like it was really out there now? 2-17:48]. There was a lot of fun, a lot of goof people here.
MAN: Do you remember anybody else that’s still alive that lived there?
WATSON: One boy was two years old [unintelligible; 2-18:10].
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-18:14] his name.
TWAROSKI: [unintelligible; 2-18:19].
WATSON: And it’s bad to know you’re the last one a’living. [Laughs.] [unintelligible; 2-18:27], but you could find out [unintelligible; 2-18:28] would be in Crosby. But that’s where everybody moved to that left over here. And 90 percent of the people that worked at that mill moved to Crosby, Mississippi. And that’s the only place I can tell you about where you might find something that still remember that place.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, we talked to Shep Brewer’s daughter.
TWAROSKI: Shep Brewer? His daughter. She lives in Laurel.
WATSON: Shep Brewer.
TWAROSKI: Uh-huh. She said that he was a bookkeeper and the mill and then he owned two stores later on.
WATSON: Say what, now?
TWAROSKI: She said that her father was the bookkeeper over at the mill when she was a really young girl, about four years old, and then later on he opened two stores.
WATSON: Oh, oh, oh, oh.
TWAROSKI: Shep Brewer?
WATSON: Shep Brewer took over Old Man Oliver Hollingsworth’s store when that was down here on the corner. He bought it from Oliver Hollingsworth when Oliver Hollingsworth [unintelligible; 2-19:36], and he opened up—he had his store that he had in the country still over there, and somebody’s living in it now, [unintelligible; 2-19:44], but that’s [unintelligible; 2-19:45] Shep Brewer’s little old store. He started them stores after the mills and all were gone. He didn’t have nothing but—the store he had—if it was a’running while the mill was here, it was about four miles out here on this other, [unintelligible; 2-20:03] Road, they call it, that blacktop road that cuts off, kind of back over yonder. But he had this store down here [unintelligible; 2-20:10] [before it was built? 2-20:12] for a few years. Old Man [Rich Gordon? 2-20:14] run it a little while. They’d run a grist mill side of it. Had a grist mill side of it.
Shep had the only one I personally ever saw. He had a rolling grocery store. Now, out of his store over here—I mean, it wasn’t much [unintelligible; 2-20:33], and he didn’t sell as many groceries. He bought a great big old school bus, and he delivered groceries all over this country around here. Stopped [unintelligible; 2-20:44] and sell groceries out of the truck. And he sold more groceries out of that truck than he did out of his store. He had [unintelligible; 2-20:49] grocery stores.
His daughter was—the daughter he had when he was here was a big fat girl.
WATSON: She weighed 150 pounds when she was about ten years old. [Laughter.]
TWAROSKI: She wasn’t that big now. [Laughter.]
WATSON: He might have had other—
MAN: What was her name?
WATSON: He might have had another girl.
TWAROSKI: [cross-talk; Cravy? 2-21:11] was her last name.
WATSON: Is that the only girl he had?
TWAROSKI: I don’t know.
MAN: What was her first name?
WATSON: Well, the girl that I knew, the oldest girl here was—I mean, the only one I remember was the big fat girl. She’s gone. She wasn’t but ten or twelve years old, but she was heavy.
TWAROSKI: Yeah, we talked to her. She lives in Laurel, if that’s her. I can’t remember her first name. Her last name now is Cravy.
WATSON: I don’t know. [unintelligible; 2-23:49].[cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-21:51].
WATSON: [unintelligible; 2-21:53]. And they said they can get you in touch with the Crosby family that owns the [unintelligible; 2-21:56].
WATSON: [unintelligible; 2-21:57].
TWAROSKI: You can have that one if you want. I’ll make another one. It’s on the computer.
MAN: That one’s clear, is it?
TWAROSKI: It’s not as clear, though, because we could not fit it on one screen, so it’s, like, those shrunk down and taped together and then put it on.
WATSON: You said you was going to get some bigger and better paper.
TWAROSKI: Yeah. That’s the biggest—that’s about all we could do. But it’s not as clear as that one, but it’s all on one piece.
WATSON: I haven’t got but one left. It’s coming apart in the middle. I had to give all them others away.
MAN: You’d be surprised.
MAN: We can [make them? 2-22:34].
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm, we can make more.
MAN: Everybody—you know, I got some [unintelligible; 2-22:40] at the house. Everyone gives me stuff. I [won’t copy nothing? 2-22:42].
TWAROSKI: [Chuckles.] Okay.
How many doctors were in Piave? What kind of doctors were they?
WATSON: Well, we only had one doctor that I knew of in this drugstore down here. Now, if the company had a doctor—there wasn’t no office up there, though. The only doctor that we had here was in the drugstore down here.
WATSON: Hickman was the last doctor I knew of. [unintelligible; 2-23:27] named [unintelligible; 2-23:28] Hickman.
MAN: We found the name of a doctor in one of the Green County Heralds, a doctor listed by the name of E.A. Copeland. Have you ever heard of him?
WATSON: I don’t heard of that name.
MAN: That was in 1925. That was before you came here?
WATSON: That was before my time.
MAN: [Grassman? 2-23:57] was the name of that sawmill town about an mile and a half, two miles [unintelligible; 2-24:00].
WATSON: But I remember them talking about Dr. Copeland.
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-24:07].
TWAROSKI: Okay. All right.
WATSON: But Richton had two or three dirt stores and two or three doctors over there when Piave had one here. People didn’t run to the doctor for their colds back then. Every time they had a pain [unintelligible; 2-24:27], they didn’t run to a doctor back then. A doctor [unintelligible; 2-24:29].
When I lived down in [unintelligible; 2-24:38], [unintelligible; 2-24:39] and we had our company doctor. I suppose they had a company doctor here. Now, I don’t know. But they didn’t have offices. They went to your house, the company doctor did.
TWAROSKI: Do you have any other stories or anything—
WATSON: No, I don’t.
TWAROSKI: —you can think of you want to tell us?
WATSON: [Chuckles.] Not unless you ask me what it was.
TWAROSKI: [Chuckles.] That’s about all I know, except the time when Jukin’ Cleve made a necktie out of his guitar. [Laughs.]
WATSON: That was kind of funny. They hadn’t heard it. [unintelligible; 2-25:26] lived right down there. He’s dead now. But he was dragging moonshine and kind of [unintelligible; 2-25:32]. He wanted to hear Jukin’ Cleve play. This [unintelligible; 2-26:36] down here the other side of the [unintelligible; 2-25:40] up there, an old house where [unintelligible; 2-25:44]. And everybody went home. Jukin’ Cleve and Earl come down there. There was a little steel bridge down there. It’s still down there in them woods, but the highway misses it about 200 yards. But anyway, they was on that steel bridge. [unintelligible; 2-26:03] wanted to keep hearing music. They wanted Jukin’ Cleve to play him some music, and he’d get [unintelligible; 2-26:13]. After a while, Jukin’ Cleve took his guitar and hit him right over the head, made a necktie out of the thing. [Laughs.] He [unintelligible; 2:26-18] a guitar. They said Earl took off howling like a [unintelligible; 2:26:23] dog. He [unintelligible; 2-26:28].
TWAROSKI: This map is kind of small, but I was wondering if you could kind of show me where your turpentine still was where you grew up, and you said there was another mill down on Mason Creek?
WATSON: I [unintelligible; 2-26:44] show you. It wasn’t Mason Creek. Carson City.
TWAROSKI: Carson City. This is Mason Creek, this thin blue line right here.
WATSON: Well, Carson City—
TWAROSKI: This is Highway 42.
WATSON: —would be about seven miles from Piave.
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. There’s Piave right here.
WATSON: I don’t [unintelligible; 2-27:07] Mason Creek, maybe a mile from the creek out there in them woods.
TWAROSKI: It’s all Forest Service land now?
WATSON: It’s all Forest Service land. I used to squirrel hunt down at Mason Creek a lot, and I’ve been through there all around Carson City down there. I don’t believe I could go back to it.
TWAROSKI: What about where the turpentine was?
WATSON: The turpentine still that we had here—someone [unintelligible; 2:27:42] from Piave, where this railroad goes towards Hell Hole Creek out there. It goes straight out on the main line, where the main line starts. Is Piave [unintelligible; 2-27:53]?
WATSON: Well, there’s two lines. One went to [Kitcher? 2-28:03] Creek, going through [unintelligible; 2-28:04], and one went through Hell Hole, across [Pete Wire? Pete Water? 2-28:08] Road, through Hell Hole and across Pete Water Road if they wanted the turpentine still.
MAN: All right, here’s Peak Water Road.
WATSON: Now, where it crosses—now, here’s Pete Water Road here, and here is—
TWAROSKI: No, this is the road we said all the garbage dumps were on, right here.
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-28:33].
TWAROSKI: Was it bigger?
MAN: It has dirt roads on it. [unintelligible; 2-28:38].
WATSON: All right, this is Pete Water Road here. All right, here is Hell Hole Creek, Eddie, right here. And that’s Pete Water Road, the little black line is Pete Water Road, and that’s Hell Hole Creek, and about [unintelligible; 2-28:48] would be the turpentine.
MAN: Yeah, the [unintelligible; 2-28:53]—
WATSON: The dead-end road [cross-talk; unintelligible; 2-28:55] the government—
MAN: That [unintelligible; 2-28:56] line is—Peter Water Road is about three-quarters of a mile from Hell Hole Creek.
WATSON: What’s—is that 230-C, the number of that road right there?
WATSON: That [unintelligible; 2-29:12] road?
WATSON: Right there is the dead-end road, [unintelligible name; 29:12]. That’s where the [dummy line? 2-29:13] falls, comes out of Piave, and it’s line with the dummy line coming on up. The dummy line comes out right here at the intersection of [unintelligible; 2-29:20].
MAN: When you see that railroad leaving Piave, it ought be on that right corner.
MAN: Well, [unintelligible; 2-29:40].
MAN: Well, you see that dummy line up there?
MAN: Leaving Piave going [unintelligible; 2-29:46] toward Hell Hole Creek.
MAN: There’s another road out there called [A.P. Raleigh? 2-29:50] Road, but it forks right in there. [unintelligible; 2:29:56] back down [unintelligible; 2-29:57] Road. There was [unintelligible; 2-29:59] in there.
WATSON: That turpentine still was in that corner on the left side of the railroad, just this side of the A.P. Raleigh Road. I [got some of the? 2-30:12] turpentine company [unintelligible; 2-30:14] them away. [cross-talk; unintelligible; 30:22]. They were made out of clay. I got two of them.
MAN: Right about there. The corner of the 230, the inside corner?
WATSON: You know where them cups are?
MAN: Right there.
WATSON: You know where them turpentine cups are?
MAN: The clay turpentine cups?
WOMAN: I think that man from [unintelligible; 2-30:39] might have got them. I think they were up there in that building.
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-30:50]
WOMAN: I think they were up there in that building.
WOMAN: I think they were in that building up there.
WATSON: I remember. [unintelligible; 2-30:55]. I sold everything in the building up there for a hundred dollars, just to get it out of my way.
MAN: I’ve got one or two?
MAN: I’ve got one or two, myself.
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 2-31:03]?
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-31:04].
WATSON: I had two I found in them woods over there. The first turpentine trees had clay pots, but they were easy broken. You had to run up that tree and grab it and rake all the tar out of it and put it a—they had a [sled that drove it? 2-31:29] [unintelligible; 2-31:31] back on that tree. The next pot that come out with was a aluminum—I mean, was galvanized. It was regular sheet metal, but it wasn’t galvanized. It was made out of tin. They rusted. The next one that come out was aluminum. The last ones they used were aluminum pots. I forget now. I said the first one was the clay. That wasn’t the first one. That first one, they dug a notch in the tree, chopped—took an axe and chopped a little trough on the tree, and they’d get the tar out of that when it [fill up? 2-32:13]. Then the next one, they started making them out of clay, and then the next one was tin, and the next one was aluminum.
We had a pile, an apron, tin aprons that they nailed on the trees to guide that log. They were little long pieces of tin about that long [demonstrates] and about three inches around at one end and about two inches around at the other. They took and crimped those things a little bit and turned up the bottom corner, and you could that thing a quarter of a mile.
WATSON: It just go and turn and come back, [unintelligible; 2-32:57]. There was a big pile out close to our turpentine still. I reckon there was a million of them [tins? 2-33:06], more than they used. I mean, that was after they used them all and [left them? 2-33:11]. And the boys would go out there and throw them all, two or three [hours? 2-33;17] at a time, just throwing [apron? 2-33:18]. I done that for years. Go out there and get a hold of a bunch of tin and sail them, see who could throw them the further. But I think if you crimped it, according to which way you’d crimp it—you’d crimp it just a little bit [unintelligible; 2-33:35] the length of it and then turn up that other corner, opposite corner from where you have your hand, just a little bit, and you just–[unintelligible; 2-33:41] throw that thing, and it almost hit the ground down there, and you throw it down real hard, and it almost hit the ground and start rising, come up. [Having a lot of fun? 2-33:53] [unintelligible; 2-33:55]. We [unintelligible; 2-33:56] apron, but they didn’t need them because they didn’t have no more trees to put them on.
TWAROSKI: So how did the still operate, the turpentine still?
WATSON: The turpentine still was two stories high. I had the truck run up a ramp, and they unloaded on the second floor, where they had a great big copper kettle sitting on the ground on the bottom floor. And that’s where they emptied all the tar. That was pure tar from in there.
TWAROSKI: They’d just take it from the trees and put it in barrels or something?
WATSON: They brought it to the still in big barrels that weighed around 550 to 580 pounds. And I had a colored fellow up there was an awful strong nigger. He could take those barrels and roll them over and dump them. It had a lid that screwed on. He’d open it up and pour it in this great big copper kettle. That copper kettle was big enough to hold about twenty barrels.
WATSON: That was just one still. We had twin stills down there. We had a double turpentine still. Well, down below they had a door open on that, a steel door frame, and the thing was five foot [big? thick? 2-35:20] all around in there, and they trucked wood out of the woods, [unintelligible; 2-35:25] that white pine. They didn’t burn no oak or nothing like that that day and time. It was all pine. They kept a hot fire going in that furnace. The turpentine, liquid turpentine—they [unintelligible; 2-35:40] the steam, and it come down, and it went through a [unintelligible; 2-35:46], like a whiskey still. It went on out to—it went downhill to the railroad track, downhill down there, and when it was low enough that they had five-gallon tanks sitting up there above the railroad, where the stuff would run in there till they’d get a carload of turpentine.
Well, where it come out of the still, it had long chutes, troughs. They had regular troughs. They had [string? 2-36:32] wire in there, and they’d put cotton in it, [unintelligible; 2-36:37 cotton in there on top of the first layer—the first thing it went through was about a half-inch mesh wire, like hardware cloth. The next one would be a string wire with cotton. And that hot [unintelligible; 2-36:55] was [thin as gas? 2-36:59] when it’s hot, as hot as it was when it come out of that still. And that would catch all the [drops? 2-37:06], all the chips, all the [trash? 2-37:11]. They had a big hole dug in the ground, maybe as far from here to that highway out there. It was dug out. Another [story? 2-37:20] under the ground for all that stuff to keep running downhill.
All right, they had chutes up there that would go down maybe twenty-four barrels in a row, and they had pegs in the bottom of these chutes, a peg with a hole in it. When that barrel get full, they’d [unintelligible; 2-37:42] a peg in that hole and stop the tar [unintelligible; 2-37:46]. They knew exactly how many barrels that still would fill up, and they’d fill up all them barrels. Now, that’s down under the ground where it all could run out. It started from two stories high till it got under the ground.
They had a great big chute, elevated, I mean, tapered up. They put two poles down there. They had to roll that [unintelligible; 2-28:15] out of there by hand. They rolled it out on a big yard down there that covered seven or eight acres. They’d roll it down there on a hill, then turn it up. That was when it cooled down. They let it stay—it stayed out in this chute, they called it. They called it the chute. They stayed till it got hard. We had a [unintelligible; 2-38:43] shop down there that made wooden barrels, and when it got cold, they’d stop it up. They made [unintelligible; 2-38:54]. They’d [chop it up? 2-38:55] and take it out on the yard.
Then they had an inspector from Mobile come up and check it, [unintelligible; 2-39:06] full of water. And the inspector couldn’t [unintelligible; 2-39:11]. They’d pay me fifty cents a day when I was a kid to go out there and dip all the water out of the top of them barrels when that inspector come by with a [unintelligible; 2-39:19]. He’d chip him out a little [spur? 2-39:20] about that big [demonstrates], where he could see through it and grade it. He worked for the government and graded every barrel of [unintelligible; 2-39:28] that would come out of that. He was from Mobile. I used to ride with him a lot.
My family had a café [unintelligible; 2-39:39], and my daddy was one of the last men to leave that place down there when the place shut down.
TWAROSKI: And then they would take the resin and load it up on trains and take it to Mobile?
WATSON: They hauled it out on trains because there was a lot of it.
TWAROSKI: For shipbuilding?
TWAROSKI: To build ships.
WATSON: I don’t know what they done. You know, there’s thousands of things they use resin for other than go on a fiddle bow. But that’s one thing. Ballplayers use a sack of it powdered up to go on their hands.
WATSON: But they make a lot of stuff out of resin. What all they make out of resin, I don’t know. But anyway, they must have used a lot of it for something because that turpentine still had twin stills, and it times it was running twenty-four hours a day. It never did cool down seven days a week. That was about the time Piave was fixing—getting ready to shut down. The turpentine still was running—would run as long as they had a pine tree standing to run it all. It would take about twelve years. They could [chip? 2-40:49] a tree about twelve years. They started off chipping about that high [demonstrates] off the ground, and [unintelligible; 2-41:00] every week, freshen up that bark on there, that sap [where? 2-41:05] it get soft again and start running again.
Every week they had to renew it and keep chipping them till they got up so high they couldn’t reach it with the hand, and then they started chipping them with pullers. They put the [hacker? 2-41:24] they cut them with all along about a ten-foot pole with a heavy weight on the back of it and reach up there and [unintelligible; 2-41:31] strip it. That’s what they call—the first tree is virgin timber, all right? And then they go on up, and then they call it [buck count? 2-41:42]. That’s when the timber was about six years old. And then when they had a good way of pulling, that’s when they called it—it was pulling timber. You pulled it with a puller.
If you want to work hard, you get you a job chipping turpentine.
TWAROSKI: Awww, no! [Laughs.]
WATSON: [unintelligible; 2-42:04].
WATSON: I had 3,000 [unintelligible; 2-42:09]. I’d chip as long as I could see, and I run from tree to tree. I’d be so tired that I could lay down and everybody beat me, I couldn’t even get up [unintelligible; 2-42:24]. I’d be practically dead when I [unintelligible; 2-42:25] about sixteen hours at a time.
TWAROSKI: But you said the turpentine part from the still—they just fed that directly in the big train cars?
WATSON: Did what?
TWAROSKI: They just fed the turpentine from the still part, the liquid, directly in the train cars?
TWAROSKI: And sent it on somewhere?
WATSON: Did what?
TWAROSKI: That they fed the turpentine—
WATSON: The liquid turpentine went down a pipe, went down a steep hill. The still was up on a hill.
WATSON: It had to be, because everything had to run down. They didn’t haul it. It runs. Well, right down at the bottom of that hill, they had two big tanks up on poles, high enough that they could open a [unintelligible; 2-43:13] up and run into a regular tank car, freight train. They’d open a valve up there. When it filled up, they’d cut it off and pull another one out.
WATSON: Everything that was done back in them days was done without [a’laboring? 2-43:31] and forklifts and things like that. But they did use [truck and turpentine woods? 2-43:44] to haul that turpentine out of the woods. They used a lot of [trucks and oxen? 2-43:43] for that. But Piave didn’t use no trucks to haul [unintelligible; 2-43:54]. It was all done by skidder.
MAN: Did you tell them that turpentine still was at the corner of [unintelligible; 2-43:58] Road and Pete Water Road? Is that right?
MAN: Right beside the railroad track?
WATSON: Right beside the railroad track was a still before it could load this stuff up.
MAN: All right, I told you wrong. Here’s [unintelligible; 2-44:14]. It’s on the wrong side of the [unintelligible; 2-44:21]. There’s another road back here called the [unintelligible; 2-44:25] Road. It turns out to your left there, and your railroad tracks come to Piave straight up [unintelligible; 2-44:31] and across Turkey Fork.
TWAROSKI: Turkey Fork.
MAN: Turkey Fork. Right beside Turkey Fork, you can see where the tracks crossed, right there, right before that little bridge. We [unintelligible; 2-44:44].
WATSON: There was a cotton gin in Piave, too.
TWAROSKI: How much cotton did they gin out of there?
WATSON: I don’t know.
TWAROSKI: You said that everybody grew enough for one or two bales?
WATSON: Well, they had to [unintelligible; 2-45:02]. The kids didn’t have enough clothes to go [to school? 2-45:04].
WATSON: Yeah. They either had it or they didn’t. But [unintelligible; 2-45:15]. A farmer would have two to four bales of cotton. I hauled near about everybody’s cotton after I come here. [I had to own a truck? 2-45:23] in this country. I hauled two bales at the time, and most of the time they had two to four bales of cotton. Sometimes I [unintelligible; 2:45-36] two loads, and sometimes there was one.
MAN: Where’s the gin at?
WATSON: They just tore it down and built that doctor’s office in Richton.
WATSON: They just tore it down but last year and built that new medical center.
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-45:54].
WATSON: They got one in Quitman up there where I go get [unintelligible; 2-45:56] right across the railroad track. They got it just about tore down. Got all the machinery piled outside the railroad track. In one town, [reserved? 2:46:08] a cotton gin for an antique, just to show. I don’t know how [unintelligible; 2-46:10] ain’t nothing to [pay for it? 2-46:11].
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-46:12].
WATSON: We had a broom factory down there, too, [unintelligible; 2-46:22] cotton gin. And I can’t place it to save my neck, the exact spot where it was at, but it was between—
MAN: [unintelligible; 2-46:27].
WATSON: Well, it was between where this—
[End of File 2. Begin File 3.] [Note: The first 15:30 minutes of this recording is of a possibly different interview with Henry Watson, according to Aaron Shapiro, although it does pick up on the broom factory reference.]
TWAROSKI: —got a broom and mop factory?
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-0:01].
WATSON: You still get that [unintelligible; 3-0:02].
TWAROSKI: They moved to—
MAN: Jack Jackson.
WATSON: Jay Jackson had it. That was another one of the big [unintelligible; 3-0:12] of Piave. Jay Jackson’s wife was found murdered on a bank of the river down here in McLain, in her car, and [unintelligible; 3-0:25] married my brother-in-law’s sister.
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-0:27].
WATSON: That young woman that lived over here. They had him and [unintelligible; 3—0:32] in jail for a long time, and they never could [unintelligible; 3-0:35], but he had that [unintelligible; 3-0:37] like that. But they never did do nothing with him. He run a broom factory till he died.
MAN: Jack Jackson is still alive. [unintelligible; 3-0:51].
MAN: Jack Jackson is still alive.
WOMAN: Jay Jackson is dead.
MAN: Well, it may be his son, Jack Jackson. He [unintelligible; 3-0:58].
TWAROSKI: [unintelligible; 3-0:58] is dead too, ain’t he?
WOMAN: I don’t think so.
WOMAN: I don’t think so.
WATSON: No? Maybe he’s still living. See, she was a lot younger woman. I mean, [unintelligible; 3-1:09]. But she was found in a little Chevrolet coupe right on the bank of the river down here where you cross the river at McLain. Murdered. They accused a kid who drove a cab. I used to ride a cab [unintelligible; 3-1:26] all the time. [McClellan Harvey? 3-1:31]. There was a lot of people got killed and murdered around Piave. Never nothing ever done about any of them.
MAN: [Take that? 3-1:344] to the sheriff?
WATSON: [unintelligible; 3-1:40] is down here. One of these James is down here. Son-in-law shot him. Ed James. [Wilson Dunn? 3-1:50] lived [unintelligible; 3-1:51] next door, [unintelligible; 3-1:53] home. The family still own it. But he was in the car [unintelligible; 3-2:05] when Ed James’s son-in-law shot him with buckshot. He was on this road right down here at 42. The Jameses live out there about two miles out in that neighborhood. There’s an old 7-Eleven.
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-2:22].
WATSON: I don’t know how many people got killed around here. I never heard of anybody getting arrested. I mean, didn’t convict them. They might have arrested them.
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-2:32].
TWAROSKI: Mm-hm. Oh, yeah. [Chuckles.] What is it—
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-2:39].
TWAROSKI: [Laughs.] I don’t doubt it. [Laughs.]
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-2:45]. You don’t need [unintelligible; 3-2:47].
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 3-2:50] better not be [unintelligible; 3-2:55].
MAN: I got [unintelligible; 3-3:04].
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-3:05] [vat was? 3-3:03] through there. We got 2,500-gallon vats, two of them.
TWAROSKI: Is it on Forest Service land, or is it on private?
MAN: It’s part of it on Forest Service and part of it’s on private.
WOMAN: [unintelligible; 3-3:18] Forest Service land?
MAN: Yeah. I could, but I don’t want to.
TWAROSKI: You don’t want to [get soft? 3-3:24]. [Laughter.]
MAN: They told us—he said if he’s down and he would not [unintelligible; 3-3:30].
MAN: But right now his mama [is fixing to die? 3-3:32]. She’s in the hospital. [unintelligible; 3-3:45].
TWAROSKI: If it’s on Forest Service, you want to make sure we aren’t going to do anything to mess it up, like fires and stuff—
MAN: They tried to preserve it—
TWAROSKI: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 3-3:53] stuff out of it.
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-3:55], and that [unintelligible; 3-4:00] burning?
MAN: They had quite a few [unintelligible; 3-4:05].
TWAROSKI: [Laughs.] Oh, no! [Laughs.]
MAN: [cross-talk; unintelligible; 3-4:05] here in Piave. [unintelligible; 3-4:08]. [unintelligible; 3-4:12].
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-4:13] school there?
TWAROSKI: My goodness!
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-4:19]. They seemed about this tall [demonstrates], [unintelligible; 3-4:24]. [unintelligible; 3-4:24] thousands of gallons, jugs over there, and they’d turn them all [unintelligible; 3-4:31]. But [we? 3:4:33] [just split up the land? 3-4:34], and I’m real big buddies with one of them, and [unintelligible; 3-4:32]. He got caught [stealing them? 33-4:44]. But the boys never even knew about the [steel? steal? 4:46]. He’s now eighteen years old, and he said [the steel was operating under the former land? :3-4:52]. He said, “I didn’t know nothin’ about it.”
MAN: But he said, “It sure smelt sweet.” [Laughter.]
TWAROSKI: [unintelligible; 3-5:01].
Well, does anyone have any other questions for Mr. Watson?
WOMAN: I don’t think so. I about [unintelligible; 3-5:07].
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-5:13].
WOMAN: I told Ronnie [unintelligible; 5:18]—[Abrupt end of that conversation.]
WATSON: And it’s fixed in there that when they build a big fire out of this thing they cook [unintelligible; 3-5:23]. They had to build it right, and the chimney had to be built right, and the flue had to be right, and the damper to make this thing cook twenty-four barrels of tar like it should be cooked. And he was the only one they knew of that could do that.
TWAROSKI: And this was called what?
WATSON: And this is the kettle.
TWAROSKI: It’s the kettle?
WATSON: It’s the kettle [that they made it in? 3-5:48]. Holds about twenty barrels of tar. And, see, this is the suck-up—this is a ramp.
WATSON: That’s coming up on the second floor. I got it [growing over here? 3-6:08], but I changed that. That would be the ramp coming up, and this would be the second floor, but that way, you couldn’t see. You couldn’t see how it operated. Now, this is a side view of it. That’s the ramp, and this is the second floor up here. This is where they unloaded the trucks. They pour [unintelligible; 3-6:27] in this chute, this door. They got a trap door out there that they—they open it up and pour all the regular tar in that. After it was cooked, they opened a valve, and this is where they got the chutes that catches all the chips, the trash. We called it dross, the name of those pine chips that come out of there. There wasn’t enough [stuff? 3-07:05] to build a fire with.
After [unintelligible; 3-7:11], run down the chute, and it run down—that just would be turned around here. This is where they’d have chutes that filled up—
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-7:23].
WATSON: That would have to be right on that this-a-way. This is where they kept all the hot [unintelligible; 3-7:26] coming out. This is under the ground. Come [unintelligible; 3-7:31], this is on the—this part here is under the ground. Like, if you tied on right here, coming out, this would be right here, see?
WATSON: On the ground.
WATSON: And after this got cold, they got them a new barrel, wooden barrel that they made, and they rolled all that [unintelligible; 3-7:55] up a ramp. They put two long poles up there, skid poles, where it rolled easy. They rolled those barrels of [unintelligible; 3-8:02] up those ramps and go out on the big yard. They never did haul them or nothing [touched by? 3-8:13]. All the handling of the [unintelligible; 3-8:16] and the barrels from the time that got cold, coming out of that still, rolling out, and roll out on this yard. Never touched by no more machinery. It was all done by hand. It was all downhill. This turp still was up on a hill, and the turpentine come out on this bottom [unintelligible; 3-8:36] right at the bottom of this—the [unintelligible; 3-8:41] come out of the [unintelligible; 3-8:40], but you know how—you ain’t never seen them make whiskey.
But that’s the way it was made, [no matter what’s your theory? 3-8:46]. They’d take this steam. It would come out the side and run through a 500-gallon tank full of water. All right, when it come out of that—it had a [unintelligible; 3-9:08] in this water. The trash [that we throwed away? 3-9:12] we called [low wine? 3-9:14]. That turpentine separated, and one of them [unintelligible; 3-9:20] and the other one [unintelligible; 3-9:21]. Well, they had it fixed where this 500-gallon tank separated that [unintelligible; 3-9:29] from the turpentine.
TWAROSKI: What was the bad stuff called?
WATSON: The turpentine kept on this pipe and went all the way down to the railroad track, where they loaded in the car.
MAN: What was the bad stuff called?
MAN: What was the bad stuff called?
WATSON: The liquid?
WATSON: Low wine.
MAN: Low wine.
TWAROSKI: Low wine? L-o-w w-i-n-e?
WATSON: Now, this [unintelligible; 3-9:55] come out of here is dross.
TWAROSKI: Wow. Mm-hm. Okay.
WATSON: If you lived [unintelligible; 3-10:01] turpentine still, you never had to cut a splinter.
WATSON: You could get all the dross you want. It was resin on a lot of chips. It stuck together. And you could stick a piece of that in a fire and in thirty seconds you had a roaring fire. And they didn’t burn down. You could stick a stick and stir it up, and it would be just as hot again, and then it would just keep getting hotter and hotter every time you’d stir it up.
TWAROSKI: What did they do with the low wine?
WATSON: Poured it out on the ground. There wasn’t no Environmental Protection Agency back then.
TWAROSKI: [Laughs.] [unintelligible; 3-10:42] there now. [Laughter.]
WATSON: It was not [unintelligible; 3-10:51]. They [wasn’t active? 3-10:51]. I thought it would all be wine, they called it low wine. [Laughter.] They’d taste of it.
TWAROSKI: What is this right here? Is this for the fire?
WATSON: They had a big door going into this. That’s a brick wall built all around that thing, see? That’s a [unintelligible; 3-11:09], you open that door. They cut [five-dollar? 3-11:17] logs to throw in there.
WATSON: Now, that’s the way it operated. I could build one like that. Then I could draw it, but I could build one. It was all done by hand. They had no machinery to pick up anything. The resin would run downhill till it got cold. They took it and [unintelligible; 3-11:49] ramp and unload it, and took it and they keep [running out and changing out? 3-11:52] and filled up all the barrels. They’d roll them out on—
TWAROSKI: Where did the trucks come from? Did they go out in the woods and collect the barrels?
WATSON: They’d come out [cross-talk; unintelligible; 3-12:01] woods, yes.
TWAROSKI: Okay. I thought maybe they loaded the barrels on the trains or something.
WATSON: My daddy built a lot of those trucks. They were just regular little old Ford trucks, but they wouldn’t haul the big eighteen and twenty barrels of resin, of tar, turpentine. They’d take—my daddy would show them how to pull them in. They put a jumbo shift on a [retro axle? 3-12:32]. They’d change the axle out and put in [slow-speed gears? 3-12:38] in the back end and made a T model like a Caterpillar, slow but powerful. You’d only have a little bitty four-cylinder engine, but it could pull twenty-four barrels of tar [unintelligible; 3-12:50] through the woods. And they built them things up. But when they’d put a jumbo shift in it, you’d have about eight powered gears. Now you get it down to [where they’d crawl when? 3-13:06] you get in a bad place.
All that dross that come out of here—what we didn’t burn up in a fire, they hauled it out on the roads and dump it out and then use it for gravel. All the turpentine and stuff—I mean, you [couldn’t wet? 3-13:23] it. And it would rain on that stuff, the water run off. It didn’t make a mud hole. You [couldn’t wet that stuff? 3-13:30].
TWAROSKI: Okay. Well, thank you. I’ve always wanted to know [unintelligible; 3-13:38]. [Laughs.]
WATSON: [unintelligible; 3-13:46]. I’ll have to go out there [unintelligible; 3-13:50].
MAN: [unintelligible; 3-13:51].
WATSON: Take me a [unintelligible; 3-13:52] or two and go out there and [rake me some? 3-13:54] [unintelligible; 3-13:55] out and [unintelligible; 3-13:59].
TWAROSKI: Was this a copper kettle?
WATSON: That’s a copper kettle. I had one. When we was a’moving up there, and somebody stoled it while we was a’moving. It wasn’t [unintelligible; 3-14:09].
TWAROSKI: Ooh! Man!
WATSON: [unintelligible; 3-14:11]. Oh, I had [500 pounds? 3-14:11] of copper and aluminum. They stoled it from me. They wouldn’t let me move my stuff, just moving [his? 3-14:11], but somebody stoled it.
WATSON: Yeah, that copper kettle was about three-eighths of an inch thick.
WATSON: Just the kettle would be worth a lot of money now.
TWAROSKI: Oh, yeah.
WATSON: I had [unintelligible; 3-14:37]. I had lots of copper and lots of aluminum engines. We had a Buick. That old big Buick I used to drive is still in a garage down there. The back end is tore up, but it’s still a good car. Somebody tore it down and got the motor out of it for aluminum. They tore it down for junk. Then they went back and took the wheels off of it and made a wagon out of it. They use it around there for [unintelligible; 3-15:13]. But that was some kind of a fine car. Well, we got service out of it. I brought one of the headlights.
[End of interview at 15:20.] [Transcriber’s note: The remainder of the recording is of a walking tour of Piave. Because of budgetary and audibility reasons, I was instructed not to transcribe this.