Borrow if you will not accept it but do not look at it as a loan.” He insisted, on my taking it and I did take his name and address adn telling him when I was able to do so would pay it back. Later with the first money I could spare after succeeding in securing work I returned it with some added and used the wrong surname. my letter was received and open by a Sergeant – whose address has been lost – who returned my letter and money.
It was about three months before I located him in North Carolina. The family with whom he was living had been broken up by the death of the elder man and the young man had finally found a place on a farm in that state and it was here my letter reach him. We had several letters between us afterwards,but my last one was returned and I have not heard from him since although he might have written but I might have changed address in the mean time. After leaving him at Jasper the tears came to my eyes and I did not try to restrain them… they were not tears to reject, it was with a rather light heart I resumed my way although the grade was up did not tire but was obligated to stop occasionally to rub my knee well to remove the soreness. Late in the afternoon a man in a car offered me a ride which I gladly accepted as my knee was giving me a lot of trouble and with only an occasional house insight, the sky darkening and foretelling rain itb behoved me to get to Big Stone Gap soon as possible. Fortunately my friend carried me to this place by which time it was quite dark and beginning to rain and knowing it would almost impossible to find a place to sleep was obliged to look up a place to lodge. A man directed me to a measly small hotel so called and the landlady said she could give me a room for the 75 cents, I was tempted to look further but it was raining hard and after quite a lot of dickering in which she made very derogatory remarks about my breed of men, living on others and too lazy to work and finally saying I can let you have a place to sleep for 50 cents. I can’t go out in this storm. She took the money saying sit down and when my son comes in he’ll take you to your room. Son must have been having a good time alright where as he did not turn up until 10:30 and it was nigh eleven when he came in the room and said, “Come on I shoul you to your room and out in the storm we went, he in a raincoat and as for myself exposed to the rain. After half a square away he led me upstairs to a room with four beds, two of them occupied by two men a piece. He motioned to an empty bed and left. The room was large enough but bare of furniture rather a poverty stricken place., but having little to lose and pretty wet was glad to get under any roof, retiring at once before falling asleep i heard another lodger come in and as he turned off the light before getting into bed, concluded all the quest were in for the night and soon fell asleep. Awoke about six in the morning and found the others had already departed.
My clothes had dried and the storm was over but the sky still overcast and making my way to the street was soon on the way to Appalachia on a good paved road. Coming by a roadside store I entered to see a man dressed his “Sunday Best” as if in readiness for church. I judged as he was reading his bible. Asking him the price of a carton of biscuits he replied, seven cents for biscuits, could you let me have a package for six cents?, it’s all I can pay”, said I referring to the money I found in my pocket at Gray’s – “No” he said, “You’ll pay 7 cents or nothing” and he placed the package back on the shelf. As I walked out the door saying “A good samaritan mix”, and he gave me an awful stare but said nothing.
Sometime later I came across what appeared to me might have been a rain of toads. They were all over the paved road, dead, as if drowned many mashed by automobiles but thousands of others and they extended for two or three miles. I had not idea where they came from and inquiring of a man by the roadside he replied, “Don’t know there’s more than could have come from anywhere round here – they’ll make good fertilizer at not cost”. It cleared about 10 o’clock became very warm and tiresome on the up grade as I was ascending the range on my way to north to come over into Kentucky and into Ohio.
Managed to get a bite on the way and along about noon a man on his way to Norton stopped and took me in. On his inquiring as to my destination and learning of my crossing the mountain into Kentucky, said ” My good man, don’t think for such a trip, the mountains are infested with moonshiners to whom a deputy sheriff is comparable to a rattlesnake and if one thought you were such in disguise he would not hesitate to “pot” you. And if you escaped they you would get little to eat as the cabins are mostly off the road. Don’t do it. You could not stand the rough road and might get caught in a bad storm and no shelter.” Well “said I , it is my plan to get into Ohio but being bombed over by a moonshiner or kidnapped half starved or sleeping out in the rain without shelter didn’t appeal to me, so I’ll take your advise but Ohio is my objective and I ‘ll get there someway. If you let me out I’ll start back and try some other route, “thanking you for your advice.” I’ll not stop here as further ahead I will put you on a road to Appalachia which is much shorter than the one you are now on” at a “Hot Dog” stand he stopped and treated me to a “Dog” and cup of coffee joining me in the same and shortly after put me on my road back as it was down grade walking was easier and by seven o’clock was again in Appalachia.
to be continued…