(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL During a recent drive along Pleasant Grove Road I came across a horse with her new colt or filly. This was in a field next to the Pleasant Grove Church, and I was told the horse and newborn are owned by Roger Cogdill. I was on my way to the new Farmer’s Daughters greenhouses.
Friday, June 14, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-06-14 20:37:45)
 
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

With all the rain how are farmers finding time to cut and condition hay as heat and thunderstorms about our hometown continue to march us closer to the official start of summer this Friday. Fathers celebrate today by taking a day off from mowing grass.

We were attacking a standing water problem outside the Plain Talk and rented a concrete cutting saw from A-Z Rental. I got to chat with Danny Bryant for a few minutes so we could complain about our aches and pains and who had the highest blood pressure. It doesn’t seem like 38 years has rolled by since he and partner Chuck Curbow opened next to Town and Country Drug Store. Gary Hammonds had launched his new business a year or so earlier. Danny said that people didn’t understand about renting tools and equipment so they did a lot of Plain Talk advertising. The business caught on. “Monday I was covered up” but some days you just scratch to make a dollar.

Around Memorial Day I was contacted by a woman in New York who saw the Just Plain Talk May article about Newport POW John Payne. I thought it interesting that her name is Joan Payne, but they are not related. You may recall that John Payne was captured in World War II and sent to a German prison camp. Joan said that her Uncle Bob was a prisoner at the same Barth, Germany camp. He left a book with a list of POWs, when he died in 1983. So Joan was able to contact John and two other POWs still living. Like John, Uncle Bob, a bombardier, was shot down the same month, December 1944 and also liberated in May 1945. She wrote, “Like most of the gentlemen that endured this terrible time, Uncle Bob never spoke of this experience too much. On one occasion I do recall him saying he knew what it was to eat rats.”

 

Remember the Tannery?

 

We have been talking with father, grandfather and great grandfather Bill Moorefield, who recently turned age 80 and is still working as a part-time security guard for S&W Security. Another person who you know well that celebrates this week is Willie Green. I think he turns 75 on June 20. Robin Green, his wife, is planning a reception at Newport Printing & Office Supplies this Thursday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., because the company celebrates its 45th year. Willie and the business have been long-time friends of the Plain Talk and occupy one of our early print sites. Stop by for a cold drink and cookie.

One of Bill’s first real paying jobs was at Rhyne Lumber Company. He operated a ripsaw and other machines on 12-hour shifts and made 35 cents per hour. He didn't stay long and joined the A.C. Lawrence Leather Company tannery off Edwina Highway-somewhere near the current ConAgra warehouses. He was strong and work hardened by his early 20s. Today he still is a lean 180 pounds. One job required him to lift cowhides that weighed 100 to 115 pounds and carry up a four-step stair and dump these into a washing bin. There was an eight-foot wheel that spun the water and hides. This was one of the hardest jobs but not the worst. The best job was in the shipping department. "I've seen men work and walk off after 20 minutes." Imagine, if you can, the odor of the rail boxcars filled with hides. Your job is to unload them by hand into wheelbarrows and push these to the washhouse as the first step in the cleaning, prepping for tanning. "Your hands were always brown."

 

It was a world of hard work

 

But people had to work and took whatever jobs there where. Besides Rhyne Lumber, Stokely Brothers, and the Tannery there were few other large employers. The Tannery did have showers for men leaving after the long day. "But you never got the smell off." Bill was not meant to work this hard forever and found his way to Mohawk Milling where J.D. Sluder hired him. Bill speaks highly of Mr. Sluder and the family. Bill took over a flour and meal delivery route that eventually encompassed several states. He would carry the corn meal and Mohawk flour and collect the cash to bring back to Newport. The bills and the cash always balanced. This went on for nine years in the 1960s. He left and drove a school bus for a time and recalled being approached by Jim Burchette, Joe Kyker Sr, and the First Baptist Church pastor. They asked him to consider being the maintenance man. At first, Bill was intimidated about the size and scope of the job but his 30-day trial turned into 25 years from October 1972 to Feb. 1997.

Although he looks in good health and is for 80, he has had some major surgery and problems that he took in stride. By the time he was 36 he was having constant stomach problems so Dr. Glenn Shults suggested he would need surgery. Dr. Shults brought in a Dr. Henderson from Memphis for the abdominal surgery. This required removal of a portion of his stomach and when reassembled was different than normal folks. He has lived with the difference. Dr. Henderson only gave Bill 10 years to live, said Bill. Many years alter, "Doc Shults met up with Dr. Henderson in Memphis and told him: 'Bill is still alive'."

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