October 26, 2003
Conducted by Joe Liles
When I was a boy, I would carry messages down the Fish Dam Road, just after it became inactive. The bridge was out, but I used the footlog. I would coon walk across there. I would get on my hands and knees to go across that log so I wouldn’t fall in the creek. I was carrying messages to a man that lived on the other side of that cooling pond of the Power Plant. The messages were from Mr. Bob Griffin. Most of the messages were about what time to come to work. I thought these messages were about farming. When I found out that these messages were about making moonshine whiskey, I didn’t care. Fifty cents was a lot of money back then!
I was real careful when I was down there around that footlog. And it wasn’t just about falling in the creek. You see, a man got killed near there, and I was looking for a haint! That man worked for the Power Plant. He drove a dinky train to load the coal that they used to heat the water. They had a big engine that would bring the coal cars in to the Power Plant. It would make two trips from the University Station to the Plant most days. The dinky was a little shift engine that would shift the cars around from the loading ramp to the train after they were emptied. The dinky would be running down the track. This man went to catch it, but he didn’t get on it real good, and he fell up under it and it killed him. It happened just the other side of Pleasant Green Road. I would be thinking about a haint when I would go by there.
They would tell us things like this to keep us out of those areas where they was making moonshine. They’d say things like, “There’s a bear down yonder.” Or, “Don’t be going over there, there is a haint that hangs around. I learned about what they were doing later on, but at that time, I didn’t know.
For entertainment, we’d play the Victrolla. We’d play a little baseball, yard or home baseball, you know. Or Annie-over, throwing the ball over the house. We would set fish hooks down at the Eno River. We’d go to the hooks in the morning and take what fish we had caught that night and we’d cook ‘em. We survived! We’d catch eels, we’d catch suckers, we’d catch catfish, and we’d catch perch. We would stick the poles in the ground, wooden poles. We would use worms for bait.