Saturday, May 25, 2013


Recently, my first cousin, Jimmy Kilgore, did a video interview with his oldest brother and our oldest living first cousin, Herbert Kilgore.  Herbert is the oldest of four children of Grady and Nettie Kilgore.  Grady is the oldest child of Virge and Sarah Kilgore, the patriarch and matriarch of our Kilgore clan. I listened to the interview and thought  I would  present the interview by posting  the text on   The content is transcribed in the style and folksy manner in whiich Herbert expressed his thoughts. This transcription of that interview is printed in the same way it was stated--in a casual and southern style of expression.  I hope you enjoy the stories through the memories of Herbert Kilgore and facilitated by Jimmy Kilgore on May 6 of this year.

QUESTION ONE: “ The first time  that you can remember your grandparents-- can you speak anything about that?”

RESPONSE: No, I druther tell this one....1939, Grandpa Kilgore bought a new Ford pickup, 1930 model.  And-uh...he had what they call a cottonseed house.  It was a huge big room, ‘bout  a twenty by twenty.  He decided he was gonna put it up in the house.  He had some things---wheels to ride on where it wouldn’t be a dang danger to the truck.  He hadn’t learned to drive it much.... so when he got up in the house with the pickup, he went kindly wild like.  He hollered, “Whoa!” going out the back door... sliding them vertical planks.  “Whoa! Whoa!”  he hollered... like it was a mule or a horse.  One of the guys--I don’t remember which one...running, put their feet on the brakes--got it stopped.  Well, he wouldn’t drive after that!!

And-uh ...I was 14 year old, not very big for my age either.  He asked me..... could I...I had to learn to drive other people’s vehicles.  My dad  at that time didn’t own one. When I was 14, I could drive Grandpa’s pickup.  Well... he asked me to go peddling with him.  That was in the summer time.  He had a bunch of vegetables such as corn, okra, and stuff you grow in gardens, and-uh... we had back in those years, 1939, ‘40, and ‘41.  I drove his pickup, and we would take all his groceries.  We had a mining camp close to Nauvoo where people lived-- where they worked them in the coal mines underground.  So we went a few times to that place, and there was another #2 mining camp in Carbon Hill.  So he said, “You think you can drive over there?” And I said, “Yeah!  I can drive over there.”  So we went down to Carbon Hill..and stopped...well, I had to unload a bunch of stuff--watermelons and stuff like that...that this lady had bought.  I went into the house with the watermelons.  Man, that was the first time I had ever been in a black person’s house.  Inside the house, it smelled awful, but I managed to put the watermelon where she wanted it, and went back out and got some more stuff.  I think I set it out on the porch for her. 

Anyway.....coming on back, one of the times...I don’t remember exactly which time it was...we done Carbon Hill and #2 mines in Nauvoo.  And there was a lot of people working in that mines, and several houses that was right south to southeast little bit from Nauvoo itself.  Anyway...we sold everything out...far as I can remember.  Grandpa.....I could tell he was in a good mood on account of selling all his stuff that day.  Must have been around 3 o’clock that afternoon, I said,... and I don’t know why I said this but I did... “Grandpa, you got a lot of money, hadn’t you?”  

“Well... I got around three thousand dollars in the bank.”  And being about 15 year old, I thought that was ultra, ultra rich back then.  And I guess it was, ‘cause a dollar back then would be worth ten dollars today in buying power., he had me... he hired me to plow some for him, and he give me fifty cents and my dinner.... And that was all day’s work.  Today, I don’t think kids would think much of that.  But back then...fifty cents was kinda’ like five dollars today.

And-uh...I remember alot of other things... just snips and bits of things we did.  But that was the major thing that’s always stuck in my mind--working for Grandpa and driving his pickup. I thought I was in hog heaven, driving that pickup. As I said, my dad didn’t own a vehicle.  I learned to drive, you know...I really can’t remember how I learned to drive.  I remember the first thing I drove was a 1928 cutdown Chevrolet.  Ed Hadder, he was ‘bout 17 or 18 year old then...and he had bought one, somehow or other...and that was what he was driving.  When I say a cutdown, the cab was cutdown over it.  We didn’t have nothing but a windshield sticking up in the front. And-uh...It made a  lot of noise ‘cause in a cutout,  they cut the muffler to where it would make a lot of noise.  That is one of the tales.... I guess I.....(question interrupts) 

QUESTION TWO: “What about Granny making hominy?”

RESPONSE:  You know...Granny...she was a hominy maker. In fact, she was a heck of a cook!  She had a bunch uh...she had Lorene, Cecil, Ruth, Lois, Sis, Ruby, and Dolly and Johnie, my dad, Grady-- had a bunch of kids she had to cook for while they worked on the farm in the summer time.  I can’t remember mostly what they did in the winter time.  

But I can remember my grandfather...he had a shop...and he had an anvil.  An anvil is a thing that you turned to make the fire get hotter.  He used that in sharp’ning his plow points, and anything metal, that he wanted to change the looks of...or use it for whatever.  He was always in the shop right after rainy days.  Part of the year now... except like I told you, he did a lot of peddling in the summer time.

QUESTION THREE: “Do you remember the hogs he used to raise?”

RESPONSE:  Yeah! He raised lot of hogs! Sometimes he’d  have six or seven of them, or maybe more.  He raised them up, and  that winter, he’d fatten them up... and then...kill a hog just ‘bout ever two or three weeks.  And all that bunch of his that I just mentioned some of them ...they could really eat ‘cause he worked them all.  

And they cleared a lot of new grounds.  New ground is where you cut all the trees and bushes, and things down...and take a scratcher that had ‘bout six to eight springs on it...and you’d scratch that’d hit roots, pull them way out, and then turn them loose on you.. and they’d hit you on the chin.  Now...talking ‘bout hurting...that hurt!  He did that pretty regular.  My dad started that also. But I got big enough to plow, he thought, I’d help him clear new ground every winter, and-uh scratch that thing up, and plant it in corn.  You always planted new ground in corn ‘cause it would grow tall, up enough so you couldn’t hurt it as bad as cotton, or stuff that would make the weeds near as large. 

Back to Mama Kilgore...she would have a lot of dishes to wash. They pretty well let the girls and boys that worked in the fields, take a nap about twenty or thirty minutes, and then take them back to the field.  And they worked to dark, I’m telling you!  When it got too dark to plow or hoe, or stuff like that, they got to come on in home for supper.

QUESTION FOUR: “How did they do a bath back then?”

RESPONSE: They would have a great big grandmother would have a lot of water, and a big old stove, and the.......(The response was not finished because the DVD video stopped at this point.)

Now, I share some personal sentiments with you in conclusion to this wonderful interview.  It is great to have life in the past recorded for the future, and I appreciate Jimmy and Herbert Kilgore taking the time to do just that.

A year ago, this Memorial Day weekend, we had our Kilgore Family Reunion.  This whole year has passed so quickly.  I post this special interview this Memorial Day weekend, 2013, in tribute to that gathering as well as in MEMORIAM to PaPa Kilgore , Granny Kilgore, and all our aunts and uncles, and their children. Remember that in a year, we will meet for our next Kilgore Cousins Reunion on Memorial Day weekend, 2014.  Place it on your calendar right now. 

I close with this thought.  May all your blistering, hot and humid summers and your cold and freezing winters be as beautiful, flowering, refreshing springtimes,

Johnny Kilgore

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