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In farewell, remembering and reflecting on years of advice, wisdom

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to gather personal legacies of individuals who lived in Landrum and Polk County during the Great Depression. Writing this column, I hoped to raise the awareness about how the ordinary heroes lived through extraordinary times.

Since several of them also served during World War II, I wrote about their stories, which led me on a path to writing about our veterans who have served our country.  Before I retire this May and pass the column on to someone else, I wanted to share with you some of the incredible life lessons I learned along the way.

Interviewing individuals whose families survived the hard times of the 1930s, I asked them two key questions about the keys to survival and their advice for future generations.  Their answers pretty much centered around working hard, being thankful for what God provided, getting a good education, sharing with others and making do with what they had.

Howard Green, who grew up on a farm in Columbus, said, “We all had to pitch in and work and do whatever we could to earn a dime to buy what was necessary.” His advice for future generations: “Do the right thing and find a job that you like and then settle down, get married and have a family. Family is the best thing to have.”

Addie Lee Hines, who was born on a farm near Melvin Hill in Green Creek, said, “We did the best we could by working hard.” Her advice for future generations: “Just stick with it.”

Charlene Wooten Pace, who married into the Pace family that moved to Polk County in 1808, recalled her husband, J.B., who said, “ Do any kind of work you could find.” His advice future generations: “Be honest and do a good job.”

Fannie Roddy, who was born 1927 on a farm on Coxe Road, said, “If a neighbor got in a bad way, we would bring them food.” Her advice for future generations: “Go to church and live right.”

Frank “Pick” Brown, whose family settled in a home where Howard Street is today, said, “You had to get work where you could and do the best you can.” His advice for future generations: “Stay in school and get all the education you can.”

Harold Taylor, whose family moved to Tryon in 1927 when the hard times hit, said his family survived by “Hard work and a lot of prayer.” His advice to future generations: “Save some money for a rainy day.”

Howard Williams, who was born at home at the foot of White Oak Mountain along Skyuka Creek, said, “If you are willing to work, nothing can keep you down.” His advice for future generations: “Get an education. It helps you work better.”

Jack Jolley, whose family settled in Polk County on a share-cropping farm in Pea Ridge, said. “We worked and saved our money and gave God the credit for all He did for us.” His advice for future generations: “Work hard and keep Social Security going.’

Jim Jackson, whose family was fortunate enough to prosper from his father’s cotton yard goods business in Tryon, said, “My father was in the right business for those times.” His advice for future generations: “Read a lot and take advantage of learning from others who have been out in the world.”

Lula Burrell, who grew up on 13 acres on Melrose Mountain that her parents bought for $100 in 1909 said, “We went to church and stuck together. Each one had something to do to pitch in to help.” Her advice for future generations: “Never use a credit card and pay for what you need with cash that you saved.”

Mable Carlyle, who grew up on the Hyder/Womack family farm on Big Level Road in Polk County, said, “We didn’t throw things away if they broke because almost anything could be fixed. Daddy could fix anything with bailing wire.” Her advice for future generations: “Learn to be self-sufficient and produce at least some of your food.”

John McEntyre, who grew up on a farm in the Green Creek Township by Highway 9 and Coxe Road that his father bought with his pension from serving in World War I, said, “We survived by helping each other, black or white.” His advice to future generations: “Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.”

Sarah Eugenia Egerton, who was born near the Rock Springs Church on the Polk County line, said, “You had to work to live.” Her advice for future generations: “Go to school to prepare to work in a field that you like and that pays well.”

Theodore “Ted” King, whose family moved to Pea Ridge after his grandfather, Henry King, was freed from slavery from the King plantation in Chimney Rock Park, said, “We worked as hard as we could and ate whatever we had.” His advice to future generations: “Get your education and finish school.”

Andrew “Jack” Stone, who helped his family grow crops on a farm in Inman, S.C., said, “The way of life was farming and you had to have a little bit of everything to survive.” His advice for future generations: “Learn how to survive in the wilderness by hunting, fishing, and also learn how to grow your own food.”

Area resident Leo Tarpley, who lived in Dalhart, Texas when the Depression hit, said, “Be thankful for what you have and to share and care for other people.“ His advice for future generations: “We need to learn to help other people and think about them other than ourselves, even in good times.”

C.R. “Bill” Dill, who grew up in a house by the Ingleside Church along I-176 south of the Landrum city limits, said, “We grew our own food to survive.” His advice for future generations: “Work!”

Clifford “Cliff” Walden, who was born in Landrum, the youngest child of Sallie Jane and A. R Walden, the area’s country doctor, said, “We all helped each other without ever thinking of charging for our help.” His advice to future generations: “Everything that you do and say boils down to your relationship with God.”

Fred J. Fisher, whose family rented a house on the Woodfin’s farm in Gramling, said, “We lived on the farm and worked hard for our food.” His advice for future generations: “Keep your nose clean, love the Lord, and know Him.”

Learning about how different individuals from several walks of life survived the Depression added living color to the black and white facts about that era. Sadly, some of those wonderful individuals have passed on, but hopefully, the lessons we can glean from their life stories will endure for future generations.

I am thankful that the Tryon Daily Bulletin asked me to write their stories and that the Tryon Historical Museum plans to have an exhibit with their stories as well as those of our local World War II veterans later this fall.

Hope to see you there!

If you are a veteran and would like to share about your experiences in the U.S. military, please contact Claire Sachse, managing editor of the Tryon Daily Bulletin, at claire.sachse@tryondailybulletin.com or call 828-859-9151. The Bulletin is also seeking a columnist to continue in Robin Edgar’s footsteps to record these histories of veterans.