"Mountain Memories" Page 19
Everyone abandoned their usual work and set to fighting fire. The lumber company forgot their job and used the trains to haul the people out, but the slow moving little locomotive was shrouded in a red-hot fury as flames lapped themselves over the blackened engine and the cars carrying the frightened families. Two men leaped to their death in the wild burning forest while others were carried to safety.
It seems to me that my older brother and sisters were the lucky ones: living in this wild and wooly land of lumber camps and shanty cars sitting between the river and railroad; of fishing in the swift water of the Little Tellico, using pins for fishing hooks; of putting nails on the tracks so the train would run over them and flatten them out so they could be twisted into small plows. They’re not many toys in the mountains.
To their young innocent minds the kids were fortunate to live in this desolate part of the country where hogs and cattle ran wild. Every day held something more fascinating than the day before. Although the hogs were marked with slits in their ears, someone stole Joe and Mary Miller's hog anyway. They knew who did it and talked about it. When the man came to their home one day, their son Boyd looked at his parents and said, "That's the man that stole our hog."
On this particular day the wide-eyed children were amazed by what they saw and heard coming down the road which was made only by the many wagon wheels, horses’ hooves, and hobnail shoes of men. There was the rattle of chains, squeaking of leather and men's voices yelling excitedly as it all came into view. It was a team of oxen -- not so plentiful in those days. What really fascinated the kids were the looks of the animals. Their heads were bloody messes and blood streamed down their faces. Their eyes were walled and mud covered their backs and sides. They heaved as if they had been running. The men came behind, their clothes filled with dirt mixed with resin. Their faces were beardy and their hair long and unkempt, disheveled on their heads or sticking out in shaggy spears from their slouched hats.
These "bull-whackers" were handling the fear-crazed oxen, the "grab-drivers" with their "grab-skippers" and the other loggers and choppers with ropes and axes and saws and tools of every description that only woodsmen could identify. They went lumbering by with a lot of noise, scarcely glancing at their little audience of gingham-dressed girls and an overall-clad boy with black hair standing up on his head. The woodsmen were a rough bunch of men with rough clothing, from spiked shoes to denim jackets. They were doing a rough job that took muscles as