"DIDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HARD TIMES, IT WAS JUST LIFE" - Ramblings Myrtle McCoy Weaver (1916-1985), Village Of Hur

(11/07/2017)

Compiled by Bob Weaver 2017

My mother Myrtle McCoy Weaver of Hur made a brief attempt at writing an autobiography on March 25, 1984, a day after her beloved sister Thelma McCoy Roach had died of cancer after a two year battle.

She would pass on herself a year later at the age of 69.

The death of her sister was a great loss.

She and "Ted" had maintained an intimate relationship throughout their lives, then working together for about 25 years at Kellwood, the sweater plant in Spencer. After a long day at work and coming home they would phone the other to discuss unfinished business, in earlier days on the old crank telephone.

Her few scribblings about her life would have likely been made at the kitchen table, looking out a large window that framed the hills and woods of Hur where she spent her entire life.

In my lifetime, I have lived at least a dozen different places, she never lived but a short distance from her homeplace.

The US Census Bureau says that folks in the 21st Century move about every five years, or as I have written, home is always a place we're moving toward.

While scribbling, she was facing her sister's funeral and her own mortality.

LIFE AT HUR - Myrtle McCoy Weaver

I was born at Hur, West Virginia in 1916, the daughter of John Ira and Mary Virginia Riggs McCoy, who were married in 1895 and shortly moved to their Hur homeplace, then a log cabin built by Alonzo Buck, to later be replaced by a two-story jenny lind structure. (see rendering below)

Born to my parents, six brothers Ernest, Eddie, Hollie, Howard, Glen and George and sisters Thelma (Roach) and Bessie (Anderson) and myself.

Before the new house was built, most of the boys slept in the cellar house. The new house had four bedrooms, still crowded for a family of eleven.

The farm was about 150 acres.

I remember when our youngest sister Bessie was born, a chubby little girl. I was disappointed because I was no longer the baby of the family. The first time I stayed away from home, Thelma and I went across the hill to the Village of Hur and stayed all night at Aunt Ida McCoys and I cried most of the night. I wanted to go to the outhouse, but it was very dark and I was afraid, and I didn't want to leave the bed.

It seems that Thelma and I grew up too soon.

We had chores to do each day before playing, cause with a big family there was a lot to do. Just after breakfast we'd wash the dishes, beds had to be done and lots of sweeping and then it would be suppertime chores.

After supper in the wintertime, we'd do our homework on the dining room table by oil lamp, after going to the Ward School, where part of the time my brother Ernest was the teacher and taught at many one room schools. Ernest was crippled all his life, suffering from polio as a child.

Students had to take a diploma test to graduate the 8th grade, and I made a total 89%. There was no way us kids at the time could attend the brand new Calhoun County High School.

We'd gather around the fireplace and tell stories, talked about our family and neighbors.

On most nights it seems like we had a house guest, a family member, neighbor or traveler.

We played checkers and "Button Button, Whose Got The Button," or a game of "X's and O's" on a blackboard we had on the wall beside the fireplace.

On Friday night my father would bring in corn to be shelled to make popcorn. Sometime we made popcorn balls covered with molasses. We made houses out of the cobs.

After all the work was done, hardly ever, we'd play outside until dark with a homemade ball made by my mother from old sock tops. We'd play hide and seek until after dark, allowing the house to cool down. The gnats were so bad, we'd build a fire, in a bucket with some wood chips to keep then away. People would sit around and talk in the darkness.

Saturday was mill day. We would take turns loading up the grain on a horse to take to Hur to be ground into flour. In the early days, Hess Reynolds was the millwright, and later the Sturms and McCoys, both had stores and a mill.

Summertime was the busiest season, plowing, planting, growing, harvesting and canning. My parents raised about everything we ate except sugar, but they bought coffee, salt, pepper and baking soda. We traded eggs at the store for goods.

I barely remember Andrew Umstead having a store at Hur, then owned by Hess Reynolds and his brother-in-law Ira Norris, who married Hess's sister Ida.

I have fond memories of hoot owls screeching down in the hollow and the sound of Whippoorwills and in the summertime Bobwhites would be heard all over the place.

During World War II, my brother George went off to serve, while our family huddled around the battery radio every night to hear the news from the front. I was married, but we couldn't afford a radio at our house, we went to my homeplace to listen with the family. It was a happy day when he returned safely, but a number of the neighbor boys weren't as lucky.

Dad was a quiet man, but that could not be said for my brothers, who got into fights, sometimes with each other. My mom had a streak in her younger days, usually about not getting things done.

In the morning, while getting breakfast, my mother had a habit of singing, while my dad churned butter. The young girls did side washing with a washtub and a washboard for little clothes, then when older, we helped take the washing to the creek down the steep hill.

See   WASHING CLOTHES THREE DAY EVENT IN OLD DAYS - Boilin', Stirrin', Lyein', Starchin' And Ironin', Coming Of Engine Driven Washer

We didn't know much about hard times, that was life.

LIFE WAS WORK

It was a big event when we got natural gas, doing away with the wood burners. We ran a gas line over to Ida McCoy's to a well drilled by Matt Crowley, and then the oil lamps were replaced by gas mantles. They would knock your eyes out.

Our first gas cooking stove was an old converted Home Comfort wood burner, which had a tank to heat 15-20 gallon of hot water for the kitchen or bathing.

We had no indoor plumbing, just the outhouse and used old catalogs for butt wiping. We would look at the old catalogs while sitting on the hole. We had three holes, two adults and one child.

Both of my parents wore flannel night gowns. I remember one night my dad (John Ira McCoy) was awakened with severe tummy cramps and rushed over the hill to quickly be seated and do his business.

He then discovered he had pooped in his long night gown, a poop pocket. Contemplating what to do, the gown required over-the-head removal, he just trashed the gown in the toilet hole and came back to the house naked as a jaybird.

Bathing was in a wash tub, with some heated water. The three girls would bathe in the same water, and the boys also shared the same tub.

After my brothers went away to work, they came back and put in running water from a hilltop cistern, including a hot water heater, a flushing commode and a bath tub. I think it was just before World War II started, a convenience coming early for our family.

CHURCH LIFE

Much of life was about going to the Mt. Olive Methodist Church at Hur three times a week, Wednesday prayer meeting, Sunday School and worship service Sunday night.

The first church at Hur was log, and it was torn down likely in the early 1900s to be replaced by a wooden building which was so out of plumb it would make your head swim. My mom said the men who put it up drank a lot.

The crooked church was torn down and in 1924 the current church was built. We always went to the revivals, which sometimes ended in a "protracted revival" of a couple weeks, because a lot of people were being saved.

I remember Slathiel Slider, the father of Paul, Tom, Andrew and (India) Vanhorn getting "happy" while singing and then start shouting, throwing his songbook in the air while walking on the backs of seats while looking up at the ceiling.

He never missed a seat. He really scared me, hollering so loudly.

The Riggs family were big in building the new church in 1924. They got the platform built, and Joseph Riggs got sick and it was two or three years before the church was completed. They had some funerals on the sub-floor.

I remember Grant Stout's wife Sarah died and very soon her baby girl died. We went to their funerals.

My dad, who seldom had a temper, hit Grant Stout over the head with a rock when he had my brother Ernest on the ground about to stab him. Grant died a few days later. It was on election day at Hur in 1928.

Alex Starcher was shot by his stepson Johnny Starcher. Johnny was Marie Starcher Sliders father. I went to that funeral.

There was a board walk to keep out of the mud at Hur. Hess Reynolds and Charley Starcher had early blacksmith shops, and the McCoy's, Reynolds and Sturms had general stores, some with grist mills.

GOOD NEIGHBORS

Perhaps some of my fondest memories were with Leona Sturm, the Hur switchboard operator, who somehow managed to raise her children after her husband Hollie died at 33 - her kids were, James Hollie, William and Caroyln Sue. She was a real lady.

My dad helped his brother start the first store at Hur in 1895, McCoy and McCoy, but soon pulled out. Everett died early in 1910 and the McCoy's, brother and sister, Harley and Scottia continued to run the store.

In my early years, the Ida McCoy family would come over and we'd make ice cream in a hand churn, using ice we bought at Grantsville.

We had some good neighbors, all poor like us. I remember Monroe Ward had a bad accident with a horse. The horse threw him and his foot stayed in the stirrup, dragging him for a long way. He had to walk with crutches for the rest of his life.

My brothers would help the Ward's plant crops and cut their winter wood. His wife Sarah would kill a sheep and fix a big dinner as a reward.

Some other neighbors I remember Sherman Barr, John Slider, Amos Smith, Will Sturm, Charley Starcher and George and Allie Hardman. They were always willing to help.

My dad, John Ira McCoy, who was orphaned in 1880 with his siblings, was raised by the Hardman family.

In 1933 I married Gifford Weaver, and we lived through the depression together, a time I will always remember. Our son Robert was born in a tiny house Gifford built on the Buck Ridge, near my dad's homeplace, for $500.

CONCLUSION OF WRITING

"Today we raked leaves and tried to comfort Ray, who stayed with us since Thelma died yesterday." (Ray never again stayed in the house where he and Thelma spend most of their lives, deciding to stay in a small mobile home near the Weaver's house at Hur).

Her final words, "There is so much that has happened in my lifetime, I'll never get it all written. I'm quitting for now."

She died a little more than a year later at age 69.

See   SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - My Mother's Hands


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