(05/09/2018)
Re-published from March 4, 2001.

Jack Ferguson and his wife Ernestine have both passed since this story was published.

By Bob Weaver 2001

Calhoun's oldest living football player gleams with spirit, recalling his early days on White Pine and his adventures across America. Jack Ferguson at 93 says "It has been a great trip," the business of life.

He and his wife Ernestine, 88, who sprung from Long Island, New York, have been married 69 years, living on the Mt. Zion ridge since 1955. "We traveled and worked in 38 states on high voltage lines, but always came back to Calhoun," he said.

Ferguson house on Mt. Zion Ridge

Ernestine and Jack have been married 69 years

Jack recalled early White Pine, with numerous stores, a hotel, a grist mill and lots of houses. "White Pine had more people than Grantsville at one time," he said.

Jack's dad, John Kay Ferguson, came to White Pine in 1880 from Marshall County, dying in Calhoun in 1968 at the age of 99. There were three other children, Eula Ferguson, Edna Swanson and Rome Ferguson. Jack attended Slab Fork School near Paris Vancamp's place, where David Barr now lives. Slab Fork joined Road Fork and Cherry Fork to create the "new" two-room White Pine School.

Jack went off to Chicago in 1928 to receive electrical engineer training where he encountered the gangster wars. One of his classmates was gunned down by mistake.

Looking from a hotel window "Another man was walking down the street on crutches and a car came from a side street and started shooting at him with a machine gun. He dropped the crutches and ran for his life. I think he got away." Jack said there was so much corruption "You couldn't tell the cops from the crooks."

He went to the original Calhoun High School before it was completed. The streets in Grantsville, all mud. "You'd sink in, if you didn't stay on the board walk." He recalled the riverboat days and Grantsville without a bridge. "You walked across the river or rode a horse near the football field."

"I asked dad Ferguson (John Kay) about how old he felt when he was 98," commented Ernestine.

The old man said "I feel like I'm almost 28." She said he ran around with younger people most of his life, and kept a great attitude, much like Jack.

The Ferguson's have three children, Betty Elizabeth Salisbury of St. Albans (who has since passed away since this article was written) Virginia Ice of Pittsburgh and John of Glasgow, a retired West Virginia State Policeman (who has also passed on since the article was written.)

"Life never got monotonous," concluded Jack. "Attitude has helped a lot. If you start feeling sorry for yourself, you go downhill fast."

"It's been a great trip"


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