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Interview with Ray Von Caldwell

Caldwell, Ray Von
Cumming, Gabriel
Date of Interview: 
Balls Creek; Mt. Ruhama Baptist Church; Cotton farming; Land use; Agriculture - Environmental aspects; Pesticides; Caldwell Township; Catawba County Planning Board; Midstate Mills; Mt. Ruhama Cemetery.
Ray Von Caldwell lives in the Caldwell Township of Catawba County in the Balls Creek area. In this interview Mr. Caldwell discusses his ancestry, a book he has written about the Caldwell family and a project to catalog the gravestone inscriptions at Mt. Ruhama Church. His family has farmed in the Balls Creek area for generations and Mr. Caldwell carries on this family tradition. As a farmer, Mr. Caldwell discusses the many challenges of farming such as drought and insects. He explains his use of pesticides to control the boll weevil, weeds and the rye grass. Mr. Caldwell has acquired over sixty-three acres from deceased ancestors over the years and continues to expand his farm area by acquiring more land. His passion farming has resulted in his strong involvement in county planning and land preservation. In addition to farming, Mr. Caldwell has taught biology, worked on the planning board for the county and volunteered for the Mt. Ruhama Baptist Church as a music and choir director. His insight into the history of the Balls Creek area and his family ancestry provide useful historical information about the evolution of land use over time.
Balls Creek; 1750-2002
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at his home, his farm and throughout Catawba County, NC
Catawba Lands Conservancy, Balls Creek Series
Collection Description: 
Gabriel Cumming conducted a series of interviews about values and land use with residents of rural communities in North Carolina's Southern Piedmont. The goals of the project were 1) to stimulate discussion of land use and values, 2) to increase region-wide awareness of rural attitudes toward land, 3) to enable the sponsoring conservancies to reach the region's diverse rural populations and 4) to challenge conservation and environmental groups to consider the cultural dimension of conservation issues.
Interview Audio: 
GC (Gabriel Cumming): Start by saying your name and spelling it for the transcriber's sake.
RC (Ray Von Caldwell): OK. My name is Ray, R-A-Y; middle name is Von, V-O-N, Caldwell, C-A-L-D-W-E-L-L. My father's name is Ray so I use Ray Von in this area to avoid confusion.
GC: Yeah. I thought that most people--. I had heard most people call you Ray Von.
RC: Some, some, some people, some people think I'm Dutch. I get letters
GC: Von Caldwell.
RC: Von Caldwell. So I, remem--, when I was in the military or strangers I used to use Ray but in Balls Creek I use Ray Von, what my parents called me.
GC: And that's how people know you here. So is that, does that mean you have like these two identities: like one, one in the community and one outside the community?
RC: Yeah. In the military and in college many times I was called Ray.
GC: Uh-hum. What about at work?
RC: At work, some people who knew, I taught with some people from this area, we had to carpool, went back and forth from Charlotte, they called me Ray Von so therefore about half the people that I knew at Central Piedmont called me Ray Von. The other half called me Ray.
GC: Right.
RC: I know, I'd answer either one of them so that's fine.
GC: Yeah. [laughter] That's like me. I, some people call me Gabriel, some people just call me Gabe.
RC: Yeah.
GC: And it's really up to them. [laughter]
RC: Yes. That's exactly right.
GC: In, in Chapel Hill they seem to call me Gabe, so i'm going to be Gabe over there. But I'm Gabriel on Davidson.
GC: And how old are you?
RC: I'm seventy-one years old.
GC: and, and you have family? Tell me about your family.
RC: Yeah. I've been married forty-eight years and my wife still is an assistant at Balls Creek School. She chooses to work even though she's also seventy years old. She still chooses to work. I've been retired five years. You asked about family. I have a, a daughter who is forty-three years old who's a teacher. She's the kindergarten teacher at Claremont Elementary School here in the county.
GC: Sure.
RC: And she's married to Mark Kale who, he and his father run Lake Norman Marina down 150. They have two sons. Our grandsons are fourteen and twelve. And they live in the community here a mile down Little Mountain Road. I have a son who is forty years old. He is a minister. He's a seminary graduate. He's been in the same church in Spindale for about sixteen years. He's now a minister of youth and senior citizens. Large church.
GC: What, what denomination?
RC: We're Southern Baptists.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: And of course I've lived here in the community all my life. And I directed music at Mt. Ruhama Baptist Church here in the community, about 800-member church. And I direct a choir and have been doing it for about forty years.
GC: Thanks good. Do you enjoy doing that?
RC: I enjoy it. I'm not a music major. I'm a chemistry-biology major, but I do have a, read music pretty well and have a pretty good range. And I enjoy the music part. It gives me an outlet.
GC: Yeah good. How do you spell that Ruhama?
RC: R-U-H-A-M-A. That's Mt. Ruhama. This is the oldest Baptist church in the county, in Catawba County.
RC: How old is it?
RC: It's, it goes back to 1816 so it's almost 200 years old. In fact if we want to drive, I'll show you. If you interested in that part of the community, I mean,
GC: Sure. I am.
RC: I'm interested in this, one of the oldest cemeteries in the, in the county as far as Baptist concerned. There are a couple of older other denomination. But I'd be interested in the cemetery. It's a rather large cemetery. It's several acres and I have mapped that cemetery. I'm, I'm, I'm going to make it available to members of the church but I, I now have a map made out and grids and I've got every inscription on every tombstone on, in that card file, alphabetical.
GC: That's neat.
RC: So if anybody wants to know who's buried in Mt. Ruhama, where and when they died, I've got it all in a card file. Made them, ( ) pulls out the card file and tell them it's, right now it's not available to the congregation but I'm going to make it so.
GC: That's good. It's important piece of history and, and you have family in the, in the cemetery there?
RC: Yes my.
GC: Buried there?
RC: In fact, I have written a book on Caldwells. Let me show you the book.
GC: Yeah. I'd like to see it [pause].
RC: This is a book I had published in 1968. It's got about 10,000 names in it and goes back to, goes back to about 1750. And my pioneer is buried in that cemetery over there. All, also a lot of the other people that are in that book are buried at Mt. Ruhama.
GC: Wow. Yeah. This is great. You've really done a lot of genealogical work.
RC: Yes.
GC: And your parents are still living?
RC: My parents are still living. Ninety-three, my father's ninety--, will be ninety-three November the 13th and mother's already ninety. Their, their minds are good but they're, my mother's just about an invalid. She, but dad takes care of her with some help from me. They're still at home, which is next door.
GC: That's neat.
RC: We were farmers when I was a child and farmed the land that we're on, sitting here right now. This was farmed in cotton, wheat back when I was a child.
GC: Yeah. Say a little bit more about, about this place. Describe it. Just where we are and what's around us here.
RC: Well we're. We're in Caldwell Township of Catawba County, rural. In fact when my parents built the house that they now live in there were only two other houses on Balls Creek Road from Highway 16 to Balls Creek School. There were two other houses. So it's really grown up. But still we have the--.
GC: How many are there now? Tons.
RC: A lot of them.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Having been on planning board all these years I have tried to keep less, less density if I can to help someone. In fact the land that we have back here behind us we haven't owned, my, one of my, one of my great uncles owned this land. We tried to purchase it when I was a child, my daddy did. And after I got married we, my wife and I tried to purchase it a number of times and could--, we did farm it but we couldn't purchase it. An old maid granddaughter of his owned it finally and she did tell me in 1977 that if something happened to her she'd make it available to me after her death. And I had forgotten about it. When she died three years ago, in her will it made that land available to me. It was expensive land but I still purchased it. So we have now sixty-three acres behind the house we didn't own before. Most of my farm is out the road. It's kind of historical land also because people who grew up on that farm that I now own not two miles out the road are Drums. And they're a very important part of this county. In fact the Drums that run, that own
GC: Drums Crossroads.
RC: Midstate Mills in Newton makes flour and corn, cornmeal. They, they've had their upbringing right on my farms. So it's, it's an old family.
GC: Huh.
RC: In fact in that book some of the Caldwells married in the Drum family so that they're all, we're all tied together if you go back far enough.
GC: And that's Drums Crossroads?
RC: But Drums Crossroads name part of that, yes, but my farm is not Drums Crossroads it's out--.
GC: So all, all told you have some sixty acres over here and then the bulk of it--.
RC: I have about almost 300 out the road and then I have a couple little patches.
GC: And is there more around the house here?
RC: Yes.
GC: I mean are you all pretty much surrounded?
RC: Well, well my father has thirty, twenty-some acres down next to us here.
GC: I see.
RC: But again, this sixty-three acres protects me behind my house.
GC: Oh right. And, and that's, that's all, this, these fields.
RC: Right. If I hadn't purchased that the next paragraph in the will that I mentioned a minute ago said it would be sold at public auction and I know what that would have meant.
GC: Development. R
RC: Development. And it probably would've been doublewides and singlewides and it would've been a mess.
GC: Is that--? Why do you say that? That's the way it would've gone.
RC: At public action, most of the land is purchased by these people down in Hickory who, who do develop land and doublewides, singlewides,
GC: Trailers.
RC: trailers and so on. And there are numerous farms that been sold like that and, and it's terrible looking. The aesthetics is been ruined really.
GC: Uh-hum. And so, so you grew up in the house next door?
RC: Next door, yes.
GC: And, how, how long and--. Now you said, you said your dad built that house?
RC: Yes.
GC: And when was that?
RC: About 1935. I was four years old when he built the first two little rooms, then added four more rooms to it. He grew up about a mile down Little Mountain Road. He was one of the eleven kids. His father lived to be ninety-six years old. So genetics gives me a little--.
GC: In your favor.
RC: In my favor at least. If I don't get killed on a farm tractor or something.
GC: Yeah. [laughter] Well that's good. So, is the, is his original home still standing?
RC: No. It's been torn down.
GC: Uh-hum. And how, how long has the family been in the area? I mean has it been all those generations?
RC: All those, all those generations.
GC: Seven?
RC: They, they, they were here. They got their first land grant in 1780-something. They were in the first North Carolina census. This pioneer and his family are in the first 1790 North Carolina census. And a lot of people that came from this James Caldwell are still in the area. Of course others have moved off. Scattered everywhere really when you analyze it. I've got this book scattered all over the United States because people are interested in it (and its important). I wish I was more experienced on computers. I'd, I'm not, I'm not a email person. I've got a computer but never use it.
GC: Oh. [laughter]
RC: Being a, farming 425-450 acres and working the church and planning board and I'm, I'm a charter member of Balls Creek Lion's Club also for forty-something years. So I'm secretary/treasurer there so I don't have much time to get too involved in other things.
GC: Yeah. Yeah.
RC: It does take some time to get good on a computer. You know that.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: I'm sure.
GC: Sure.
RC: I'm sure you're well versed in computers.
GC: Yeah it's funny. I was just talking to the Bumgarners yesterday that have the lumber company out over there.
RC: Yeah. I know, I know them.
GC: They don't use it. They got one sitting there too and they don't, they don't use it for anything.
RC: Now my, my children do use com--, my son and his wife--. In fact my daughter-in-law is over computer program in Cleveland County Schools.
GC: Oh. Wow.
RC: That's all she deals with. And they're, they're good at it. My, my son got computer at church and at home. But I just don't have time to get in there and play with that thing.
GC: Well I mean it does get easier the younger your generation is. I mean because I just got, I didn't, you know, it's just all around. I didn't even think about it. It just kind of absorbed it.
RC: My last years at Central Piedmont Community College we had a computer on a desk and I used it for registering students and checking on students and this kind of--. But, but I never did get, really get involved in email and I just I proba--, I probably never will now. I would like to revise that book.
GC: Yeah.
RC: But and it can be done easily on computers. In fact this cemetery thing I, project I mentioned. My son and his wife have agreed to help me do that on the computers. Some of this stuff will be easier on computer they say.
GC: Yeah. Oh I'm sure.
RC: I've got it ready.
GC: Yeah. You put that, you put that card database on the, on the computer that would be great.
RC: I have got it all written out for them already in my own handwriting so they-sometime when they have time and I have time to talk to them about it we'll get that available for people ( ) or it'd be good to have it in the library or the historical society in Newton. It'd be good to have this information because people are always coming to our cemetery doing research on families. It'd be neat to have this in a book that they could get.
GC: Yeah. It would. That's, I hope to put together a little booklet from these interviews too and, and have it in the library and stuff like that. There was someone, I spoke to someone at the Harvest Festival who's interested in putting it in the library so I hope I can make a small contribution to the knowledge in the area too.
RC: You know Paul Beatty.
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: He's very interested in Catawba County history.
GC: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well he'll help me. He'll help me make it out.
RC: He and my son were real high school buddies. They've been very close. Paul's been to our house many times.
GC: Yeah. Yeah. He's been a great help to me, get started on this. So the Caldwells came in 1780. Do you know where from or--?
RC: Well hand-me-down stuff is they came through Virginia from Ireland probably. And there, there were three brothers came here. We, we can find their names on the original land grant. When they surveyed the land, they were chain bearers. The two, the two brothers of James. But what happened to those brothers, I have not been able to find where they went. And I can't connect them to Virginia. There are too many biblical names. These, this guy's name is James, there was William, there's Thomas. All biblical names. You can find probably ten other situations in Virginia that, that use those names. I can't separate them. I've had no, no luck at all with one of these brothers in Virginia.
GC: So they came down here and settled and presumably were farming from then on.
RC: Yes. Yeah.
GC: And do you know if, if the pro--? Do you know which pro--, what property in the area was theirs? And has it stayed in the family to an extent or--?
RC: Yes. Yes. I know exactly where they had settled first. And some of the land that I now own, they owned.
GC: Hmm. So it overlaps.
RC: Overlaps. Yes.
GC: But it went out of the family first and then came back in, right?
RC: Yes. Uh-hum. But, a lot of land in this community they, was covered in the land grant. They got from the state of North Carolina.
GC: Uh-hum. So have you purpo--, consciously tried to acquire properties that were family properties?
RC: No, my, my--.
GC: Or is just kind of chance?
RC: No. No. I have not tried.
GC: So, but, but someone in your family has been on the land in this area continuously from that point on?
RC: Yes.
GC: And, and someone's always been farming too?
RC: Yes.
GC: And, and your father was, was--?
RC: Was a farmer until later years. He did because of the problem we had with the boll weevil that wiped us out of the cotton business. He went to work as a, a builder, and a small contractor and worked with someone else too in later years. He retired from working with someone else in the building trade. But we've, he's always farmed his land, what the little-you know he wasn't a big landowner. He rented land.
GC: Right. I see. So, did he, did he just have the, the thirty acres and rent, rent out?
RC: Yes. That's all, all he had. Rented it, rented land in the community.
GC: I see. And, and his father was a farmer that worked full time?
RC: Yes. Full time. His father never worked in the public world.
GC: Uh-hum. And so, so you went out of cotton. When was that?
RC: In the, about 1950. In fact I, I was one of the first people in this community to go to college and we had a good cotton crop the year I went to college, 1949. And the next year I came home from college on my--, I'd earned some cuts from college-I came home to help plant cotton. The boll weevil hit in 1950 here and just wiped us out. We made, we been making anywhere from 13-15 bales of cotton and that year we made two bales of cotton. So my, my father went to work then at a saw mill, my mother went to work in the lunch room in Balls Creek School and I came home in the summers and I worked at the saw mill also to help keep me, keep me in college.
GC: So everybody had to pitch in all of a sudden
RC: Yep. Everybody. That's right.
GC: to make it, make it, to survive.
RC: I had one sister who also wanted to go to college so we both went.
GC: So cotton had been your primary crop
RC: Yes.
GC: as for your whole life
RC: Yeah. All my life.
GC: up to that point?
RC: Right.
GC: And presumably for most of your father's career?
RC: Yes. Yes.
GC: I mean had he always been in cotton?
RC: Primarily in cotton.
GC: And was that, was that the regional staple too?
RC: Yes.
GC: I mean, everybody?
RC: There are cotton gins everywhere around here.
GC: Hmm. I see some of the old gins.
RC: There's one out towards Bandys School up there on the left, where I, we had our cotton gin. But the boll weevil changed all that.
GC: And, so, so then what? What, what did, what did he put in next? Or what, what, what did he--?
RC: We started, started making soybeans and wheat to harvest. That was, that's now my grain. I don't have any livestock. I grew up with livestock. They're a problem. They get, they require fencing. They require taken care of breeding, pink eye, maintenance and I, I don't care. If I want to go off for a week I just the wheat and the soybeans
GC: Take care of itself.
RC: will take care of itself. But animals require attention.
GC: Right. So you made a decision not to--. Did, did you go out of it or, or was your dad already out of it by the time you took over?
RC: Out of what?
GC: Livestock.
RC: We, we only had enough livestock to get the milk we drank and with horses or mules one to cultivate with. And later on, by the way, I did go into the sheep business one time. I had sheep, this pas--, this was a pasture at one time with sheep in it for about five years. Very interesting. The market there for lambs for lambs and for wool got very bad so I decided to get out of that. So we have had no livestock since then.
GC: So for the most part it's been wheat and soybeans
RC: Wheat and soybeans. Yeah.
GC: the whole time?
RC: Right.
GC: And that's been pretty, pretty successful? Pretty effective?
RC: Well yeah farming is a risk. I mean, I've been on the phone this morning talking on the phone to people we were plant--, fixing to plant wheat as soon as it gets dry enough. It's ironic, last year we couldn't plant wheat because it was too dry. There was no rye grass to deal with. Rye grass is the, com--, competitor of wheat. And there're chemicals we use to suppress it or kill it. Well it's been cool. Well I've been on the farm this morning talking to a chemical company to see if, if the chemicals I'm using, which is Roundup, will kill rye grass in cool weather. And I learned this morning it will, just more slowly so. But we've, we've changed our farming methods. Years ago we used to plow, disk, cultivate; we do none of that now. We, we what it call no till farming.
RC: Really? You've come in contact with that? Well it has its advantages. It does not disturb the soils that mark the plant. It does involve chemicals, which some people are opposed to, but we don't erode the land anymore. You don't find muddy creeks around here anymore because there's no runoff.
GC: That's interesting. Yeah I've heard some good things about doing that.
RC: And of course the equipment's very heavy and expensive, but also cuts down on labor and fuel.
GC: Hum. So you think it pays off in the long run?
RC: Oh yes. I think it does.
GC: I mean you had to make an initial investment
RC: Right.
GC: to make it work.
RC: But it works.
GC: That's interesting. How did you decide to, to go to that?
RC: Well it, it began to be tried and I was pessimistic. I'm an ole-timer and kind of slow to change. But after seeing it work we do it all together now. All of our land is no-till except we, my father's always had a watermelon and cantaloupe part of his farming and sells them in his house. He's, can't help now but I have, I've continued. This past summer we had five acres of watermelon and one acre of cantaloupe that sold at my father's house down in here. But anyway, that's the only land that we've disturbed the last three or four years.
GC: Right. So, so it's been how long since you started?
RC: About four year, three or four years. Four years ago.
GC: Four years?
RC: And I have not turned any ground since then except the watermelon patch.
GC: And the yield is, is?
RC: The yield's very comparable and the cost of the chemicals is probably cheaper than the cost of the fuel than the wear and tear on equipment. We, we don't have to worry about changing disk on disk anymore, we don't worry--, we don't use it. No plow points 'cause we don't plow.
GC: Right. Right. But it does take more chemicals,
RC: It does take chemicals.
GC: which the previous method did not as much
RC: That's right.
GC: because you were turning the stuff under.
RC: That's right.
GC: Do you think there's any cost of that? Like, I mean will that eventually take its toll on the--?
RC: Well you can get some resistance that builds up, but so far we're pretty well pleased with our weed control situation. We try and use new kinds of chemicals all the time. I read and of course we know these people who supply these chemicals, sell them to us, that they're, most of them are college graduates that we deal with.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Most of them are from NC State, which they, they seem to know what they're talking about.
GC: Yeah. Well they're trained. Right. So what you have to spray for? Just for herbici-plant with pests or--?
RC: We, we have a burn down right now, yesterday I spent the day spraying Roundup and a chemical called Finesse, it's a new chemical. The Roundup is supposed to burn down, kill the rye grass that's already germinated, all this rain we've had. Rye grass competes with wheat tremendously so the Roundup was to kill what we've already got germinating. The Finesse is to prevent more rye grass and other competitive, competitive weeds from coming.
GC: From coming in. So that's a preventative.
RC: That's right.
GC: So do you think there's any water quality risk from
RC: I don't think so.
GC: (spraying) that stuff?
RC: I don't worry a bit about it. I don't, I don't think Roundup is, harms anything really.
GC: What is it? Do you know what it is chemically?
RC: Oh I can look it up.
GC: I know. I don't--. I was just curious.
RC: Mono--, monosanto. It's got a name. I, I, I don't try to-where it's lack of phosphate or something I'm not sure. I should kno-as a chemistry major I should remember that but I don't.
GC: [laughter]
RC: There are so many chem--.
GC: Yeah. That's why I was wondering.
RC: Like some of these chemicals I just happen to be reading this morning about this one chemical we used yesterday called Finesse. It tells you on here exactly what this is in here, but, but, but--.
GC: And that's from DuPont?
RC: That's from DuPont. Right.
GC: So you got DuPont and Monsanto and you put them together and you get--.
RC: Right. Right. They have to be compatible.
GC: Right. But, so like you say I mean you're, you're improving the water quality in the sense of not having all the sediment
RC: That's exactly right.
GC: runoff. Which is the biggest pollutant probably.
RC: I don't worry about polluting the water at all with these. In fact by not having the runoff, these chemicals don't get, I've, I've got a pond that I get the water out of to do this spraying and I have fish in there. And if, if this runoff water goes in there
GC: It would affect the fish.
RC: it would affect the fish. They would die. I've never had a fish killed.
GC: So, so that and, and you would know 'cause that, the lan-the pond does drain from the farmland.
RC: That's right. My pond collects, if there is any runoff, and heck if we have a two-inch rain we'll have some runoff, but it's clear water instead of muddy water.
GC: Muddy water.
RC: Most the time. I'll show you that pond, we going to drive out there in a little bit; I'll show you the pond.
GC: Yeah. Yeah. And do you, do you, just while I'm thinking about this, do you guys do [pause] keep trees along, along the stream banks? Do you, do you have streams?
RC: Yes I have streams and this, part of this land that I purchased five years ago had some scrub timber that was about ruined when Hugo came through but I had, I harvested that, but their regulation didn't keep you so far from the creek. I think it's fifty feet.
GC: Fifty feet.
RC: Fifty feet. Also I'm conservation minded. I have had some help from the federal government and the state government and county government in helping me do some things to rock some, I can't think of the stuff, rocks, big rocks-what do they call it?
GC: Oh, rip-wrap.
RC: Rip-wrap. I've done some of that. I'll show you that out there in a little bit. They help me do that. I've got borders around my fields, grass borders and then (fields that's it's a) place that you drive if you need to go around the fields, check on things.
GC: Right.
RC: Also, it prevents
GC: Buffering
RC: buffer--. It's a buffer you might say. I keep it, it's fescue grass, I keep it bush hole, looks neat. It's attractive.
GC: Yeah. That's neat. So you're trying to try out some different things,
RC: Yes.
GC: keep it--.
RC: In fact that's made my retirement, I've been retired now five years, it has made my retirement very interesting to get all this stuff, done all this stuff since I retired.
GC: I mean have you found that throughout your, your farming career there's been a continual need for innovation and new techniques?
RC: Yes. You have to go with, you have to go with the flow. I am kind of conservative but at the same time I do try new things.
GC: Well, you just want to make sure it's something sound before you--.
RC: And I keep good records so--. When I, I do anything on the farm I, I record it and we're required by the state to keep a record of where we use chemicals, how much per acre and when we applied it and all that kind of stuff. They, they can come by and inspect these. I have to transfer what I do in this little book. Yesterday I sprayed. I've already recorded this, this morning what I sprayed, how much chemicals per acre, and etcetera. Also I like to try a new kind of fubings, new kinds of wheat. We had a, last year, a problem we had never had before with wheat called, it's a powdery mildew which I, I knew about but I never had it in wheat crop before. So I ordered some certified powdery mildew resistant seeds I'm going to plant. Try that this year. But again it's, it's-I don't have to farm.
GC: Right.
RC: Having taught forty-two years I do have retirement.
GC: Right.
RC: And I farm because I like to. But it gives me a chance to get exercise. I don't have to go to the YMCA to get exercise. I get my exercise by actively and being active, engaging, hauling straw and lifting stuff.
GC: Yeah.
RC: In pretty good shape physically being an old man.
GC: Uh-hum. Yeah. Right. Keeps you active and, and you enjoy it.
RC: Well I enjoy it. Another thing that's done, these two grandsons that live a mile down the road are here a lot. And we've used them. They've learned how to drive the tractors. They've learned how to even bale straw, know how to set the machine. They've learned to back equipment in the shed. It's been good training for them also. But we have good equipment. We, I bought before I retired, I bought one new tractor and then I bought one a little bit bigger and a little bit more modern since then so I've got some good equipment that we can work with. And, and the young people love it, getting in there with the radio, and all that kind of stuff, air condition.
GC: Oh. Oh. I see. It's nice. Yeah.
RC: These, these, these have air conditioning, heaters and AM/FM stereo radio.
GC: [laughter]
RC: Comfortable seat.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Power steering.
GC: Wow. That's something. So yeah. So you find it's like a good thing to pass on to,
RC: Yes.
GC: to your grandchildren?
RC: Well I think these young people need to know what work is and--.
GC: And, and do you thint they benefit from sort of direct contact with land and the soil and stuff like that?
RC: I think so. I think seeing the problems that farmers have that could form also. To realize that everything's not handed to you on a silver platter.
GC: Right.
RC: But, of course I enjoy having them around also.
GC: Sure.
RC: I'll make it worth their time.
GC: So, but I mean, what, what was it that really attracted you to, to keep on doing it? I mean to, to keep--? I mean you say it, it keeps you active but I mean do you just--? What is it about--? What about it do you like?
RC: Well, the fact that my wife grew up on a farm also and her mother loved land and I loved land. We, we bought our first track of land when we first got married. Bought twenty-two acres of land in 1954 for a total of 1,000 dollars. Twenty-two acres, that's forty-something dollars an acre.
GC: Yep.
RC: And we had the bulldozing done and clearing. We both worked there picking up rocks and loosening stumps. And that's one of my favorite fields because for my wife and I on our time off went over there and worked. But anyway later on some land became available in 1973, the big farm became available and I had a pretty good job and so I bought 152 acres this Drum land I mentioned earlier. And since then some land beside of it twice had become available and I've purchased that land also. So we've added to our--. We, we just like to have, to have the property. I love the, the beauty of it and the fact that I can have privacy back here behind my house now instead of doublewides or trailers. It's just good to have this view instead of looking at houses or doublewides back here. And as you'll see when you enter my farm out there, I think it's pretty. The fact that the pond is, I spend a lot of time mowing around that pond. We have a shelter that sometimes church groups use. We don't open it to the public but the church group wants for the youth
GC: What?
RC: to have a cookout or something. I have a shelter out there. My son brings his youth group out there regularly to fish and to picnic and camp. A group from our church, young people groups have camped out there also.
GC: So it--? So you get satisfaction from it both to look at and from the actual also from the process of, of working it?
RC: Yes and I, I-you don't lose money. Farming's not a moneymaking proposition, but I don't lose. I, I wouldn't, I wouldn't, wouldn't say any, I've lost money every year but I have had some loses because of the problem we've had with droughts and that. But I have made some money on the farm too. And having an ego problem I, I love to be an educated farmer and compete with these people who think they're good farmers but sometimes I, don't use methods I use, I like, I like to beat their yields.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Just like this field out here that I purchased. That's a pretty field out there, soybeans. You probably noticed when you came in but
GC: No, I didn't.
RC: no weeds in there. Everybody sees it coming by. They'll say, "Well Ray Von Caldwell's a pretty good farmer."
GC: [laughter] Yeah. So there's a matter of pride.
RC: There's a matter of pride.
GC: And do you feel like, do you feel like in some way you're providing an educational service by demonstrating perhaps some methods that maybe other people would pick up on.
RC: Yes. Just like this morning I've talked to people who are farmers in the community about this rye grass problem. I love to be able to, it's a talking thing-some people talk politics, golf, whatever-I don't play golf and I'm not in--, I'm not active in politics now. I do vote.
GC: Right. And you sit on the planning commission and stuff.
RC: Yes. But I'm involved in county government. I, I love that. I've been on the planning board for, for thirty-two years. Maybe I should get off, but I've just been invited by the commissioners to be, to serve another four-year term and I accepted it. I need to do something.
GC: Yep. Well I guess you're not going to get off.
RC: And I think that even being an old man and maybe as quote, unquote "set in my ways" it's good to have an old person with all these youngsters coming on who haven't experienced the things in the rural community like I have.
GC: Right.
RC: I think I can have a influence.
GC: Yeah.
RC: And I think being chairman, I've been chairman probably twenty-seven years, that I think this is true, I may be wrong, but I'm easy going, I can soothe some of these people's excitement at the planning board meeting. I can calm them down without getting mad myself. So I think I serve an important function there.
GC: Yeah. Well that's about--.
RC: If I didn't think that I'd quit.
GC: Yeah. That's about the most important thing isn't it? To keep, to try and mediate and, and come to some sort of--.
RC: Well I have seen a lot of changes in this county since I'm on the planning board. There was no zoning in this county until 1974, which I was on the planning board then. And I'll never forget the hearing we had and it, it, it was really nerve-racking. There are people who threaten you and call you communist and all this kind of stuff.
GC: Yeah. Zone, zoning is never really popular when it starts.
RC: But it, the people now, most people are appreciative for the fact that they do have zones. And of course I've seen the land use plan developed. I've seen the Highway 321 corridor plans made. I, I've served on the first foresight committee. I served on it for several years, four or five years and we did some good things in the county. So being old is maybe not the best thing in the world as far as being on the board but yet at the same time it does add some stability and some expertise because of experience.
GC: And sense of continuity. Giving it continuity from the past.
RC: And when I get to the point where I can't half hear and I can't comprehend what's going on I need to get off and I hope I've got enough sense to do that when the time comes.
GC: [laughter] Yeah. Or that else someone else will have the guts to tell you. [laughter]
RC: [laughter] That's right. My wife would.
GC: Well that's good though. Yeah. So, so, right. So, so--. Tell, tell me a little bit about how, how your two careers work together because you talked about being an educated farmer and applying some of your, your education and background to, to your farming. Well how's that work?
RC: Well being a biology major and a chemistry minor I taught botany at Central Piedmont Community College for at least twen-twenty-nine years. I taught chemistry a couple of years down there. And botany is plant growth. And we had a unit that we taught on mineral nutrition which is soil testing and how, how these different elements get involved in the plant growth and all this. So it's just really--. And being a, a farmer the students enjoyed hearing the farmers do of this so my botany classes were always large. I made it quote, unquote "interesting" to me at least. And then I was told it was very interesting some them people even living in Charlotte.
RC: Right.
GC: They, they, it (reminded) them of making gardens or having flowers and--.
RC: It, it was applied. I mean it had a real application in real life.
GC: And so again some of the experiences I had on the farm with soil testing and using different chemicals I was able to relate to my classes and it worked both ways so I--.
RC: So yeah. It went both ways. You'd try something out here and use it in the classroom and use it out here, did, do both?
GC: Yes. Also I taught entomology, the study of insects for about twenty-eight years and on Thursdays the school let me stay home and my students drove the thirty-eight miles from Central Piedmont to my farm to collect insects. We were at, I had the land and had access to other lands that we were able to find every habitat you could think of to collect insects. Ponds, swamps, fields, woods, lower gate matter to find various kinds of insects living, would be at the King Wood swamp. So they were able, they would come to the farm and I was able to relate to them what was going on here.
GC: Do you still have--? Do you have all those habitats on, on your properties in one place or another?
RC: Yeah. Yes.
GC: That's interesting.
RC: Yeah.
GC: So you got forest and--?
RC: Yeah. I do, and I--. Again, some land that I have cleared, in fact the land that I purchased out here, I've already set it back out in pines. I've got pine on the backside of my farm out there that I had planted several years ago.
GC: What about like wetlands and stuff?
RC: I've got a few places that are kind of wetland. [pause]
GC: So how did you--? Where did you go to undergraduate?
RC: I went two years to Mooresville College, which was a junior college at that point, then I transferred and because my sister started at college we both couldn't go off so we both drove back and forth to Lenoir Rhyne. I was a biology-chemistry major-minor and my dau-my sister was too so we went to Lenoir Rhyne. Then I started teaching at Rock Springs School down, you went through Denver this morning as you came up probably. The school that, the old part is where I started teaching in 1953. And I got drafted in the Korean War from there and came back two years later and worked for the health department a little bit. Sold life insurance a couple years. I went to med. school in the mean time for two, two weeks.
GC: [laughter]
RC: I got accepted at Bowman Gray Medical School. Stayed two weeks and decided I wanted to teach than be a doctor so I quit and came back. And my sister took my job at Rock Springs and she completed her thirty years at, with Lincoln County Schools. [pause] And so I've been in education ever since.
GC: You, and you went and got your master's at some point?
RC: At Chapel Hill, yes. I taught at Maiden High School from 1957-58 and someone nominated me for scholarship. The National Science Foundation was giving out grants for science teachers. I think it was my principal decided that I should apply for it and I got, I got two: University of Virginia and University of North Carolina. I, I got two grants and went to UNC-Chapel Hill and spent a full year there. Took a leave of absence from, from Maiden High School.
GC: And then you came back there?
RC: Came back to Maiden; my job was still there. And I spent, I spent eight more years at Maiden High School before I went to Central Piedmont Community College.
GC: So teaching was the right decision.
RC: It was. And in fact, I was in early 60s, I received the North Carolina Biology Teacher of the Year award for my work at Maiden High School. I was very much involved with the community and had science fairs, got a lot of publicity.
GC: That's neat. So, and, and, and so at what point did you pick up the farming? I mean--.
RC: I was farming a little bit at that, that twenty-two acre land, patch of land over there. We'd, I'd been farming that a little bit with
GC: Since '54?
RC: small equipment. Just doing a little bit along 'til 1973 when I purchased the 152-acre.
GC: Then you got into it more.
RC: Bought a bigger tractor, first step propelled combine.
GC: And so how did that work to, to build up a, a farm and at the same time working full time, right?
RC: Well being, being a community college teacher we had of course we had, required to teach about fifteen hours per week, some office time, but I still had a lot of time off. I and I could come home and do a lot of work after I got home from school and Saturdays of course.
GC: Must have kept you pretty busy then.
RC: I stayed busy all the time.
GC: And what about like grading papers and everything?
RC: Well during my office hours I did all that at school. Of course they provide some work-study students to help do some of that and I, I think I did a credible job teaching, but I think I had time to do stuff at home too.
GC: Well that's good.
RC: I wasn't one of the people that spent forty hours a week on campus though.
GC: Right. Right. Some people do. And you just, you drove down there every day on 16.
RC: Well, we had a carpool at one time and there were four of us from the community. A guy lives about a mile across Highway 16 taught Chemistry, a guy lived down toward Immerson Mountain taught math, a guy down at Denver taught, he was an engineer. So we, we had an interesting carpool.
GC: Yeah I bet.
RC: But my last years I was driving by myself so one of the guys who taught math had a massive heart attack, a young, was ten years younger than I, but died. So in the end was in the carpool by myself, I was alone. So that's why I retired when I did. I, I enjoy teaching but driving that almost eighty miles a day down Highway 16, that was
GC: It.
RC: stressful.
GC: Yeah. Wears you down. And did you feel like you were making a contribution to the, to the region by teaching at CPCC? I mean that's always my impression of CPCC. It's necessarily serving people
RC: Yes.
GC: who may be having their first opportunity to go to higher
RC: Yes. Again
GC: education.
RC: having the rural background and living, being a farmer, I think it develops a different personality from someone else who hasn't had those experiences.
GC: Right.
RC: And so I, I felt I was able to relate because of the fact that I did have the background that I had. Another interesting thing I did at Central Piedmont, we-I was interested in nature and farming-and we started taking students to the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia.
GC: Yeah.
RC: And I made twenty-nine trips with students. We taught classes in the swamp.
GC: Oh really. Wow. I love Okefenokee. I've been down there.
RC: In fact we went, many years we went twice yearly.
GC: Wow.
RC: Three to five days in canoes spending the night in, on islands or platforms.
GC: Yeah.
RC: I know that Okefenokee Swamp like the back of my hand almost.
GC: That's great. Yeah it's a great, great area.
RC: And that, again I can relate a lot of things to my background and I got along fine with students is what I'm saying.
GC: Uh-hum. Right, right because you could relate. I mean you were first generation--.
RC: I think there's a lot of difference in a farmer, biology, chemistry teacher than-I hope this is not going to offend anybody-than someone who teaches English or French and lived in the city all their life. I think there's a lot of difference in their personalities and their interests.
GC: Uh-hum. Because you're really connected to place, connected to the land.
RC: That's right.
GC: And, and you said you were one of the first people in the community to, to go to college
RC: Yes I was.
GC: (yourself). What motivated you to go?
RC: Well, I don't know. This is--. Someone came to our school, very small Balls Creek School, it was a high school at that point, there weren't thirty seniors in our class. Someone came from Mars Hill College to encourage us to visit. I and my aunt who is one year older than I visited Mars Hill and TAPE 1, SIDE B
RC: somehow I decided I'd like to try that. And wanted to be a teacher. And applied and never had been away from home, very homesick, but I stuck it out two years and got along fine there. And again my parents had a rough time sending me, financially.
GC: Yeah. But they were supportive of it?
RC: Very. I appreciate that. And I tell them, I tell them that even today once in a while, tell them how much I appreciate their efforts because it made my lifestyle different. The fact that I'm able to farm right now because I've got, I had good retirement benefits. If I have a complete loss this year because of a draught I still get a check every 25th of the month.
GC: Right. It's an insurance.
RC: It's insurance. In fact I had a good job is why I bought the farm in the first place.
GC: Right. Right. I mean--. [pause] So, so do you feel like people--? Is that basically the only way that farming is feasible in this area at this point is if you have some other source of income or--?
RC: Well I have one, my first cousin's son, who is forty-six years old probably. He's a full time farmer. He probably farms a thousand acres. He rents a lot of it. But--.
GC: So if you do it enough--?
RC: He's good at big style. He also incorporates some other things. He's bought some tractor-trailer trucks, he hauls for other people commercially and he does some custom work for other people. So he's--.
GC: So even he's mixing it in.
RC: He's, he's mixing in other things. Right. The old, the old dirt farmer with thirty acres couldn't make it today, there's no way.
GC: Why? Just cost of--?
RC: There's not, not enough. It takes, it takes large numbers of acres even to even halfway make it.
GC: Uh-hum. Just because of the prices, the selling price and then the price of the--?
RC: That's right. That's right. The profit we, this past year, was less than it was when I was a child per bushel. That tells you something.
GC: Yeah.
RC: And the cost of living is going up ten times.
GC: And the cost of presumably
RC: Wages.
GC: equipment and seed and everything.
RC: Everything.
GC: What about seed? Do you get seed--?
RC: I buy, I buy seeds--. Now wheat you could--. I buy some, some new wheat every year. I do save those seeds for my biggest bulk of, next year. I buy some new seeds every year. Now we do plant those, you've heard of Roundup ready soybeans, maybe? Maybe you haven't. You know Roundup kills everything basically.
GC: Right. Right.
RC: But we have a kind of soybean that we can get now that you can plant and go over the top with Roundup, kill all the weeds in there but the, the Roundup does not kill the soybeans. But you can't keep those seeds.
GC: So, so then ( )? Oh you have to buy?
RC: You have to buy new seeds every year. But we have other kind of soybean that we use other kinds of chemical on also.
GC: So with the soybeans are there some that you, you use your own seed for?
RC: Yeah. I've got some that--. In fact probably my best yielder is one kind of soybean that I've been having probably ten years. And the seeds are even, you can't even buy the new seeds of that particular number.
GC: So you have to keep it going yourself?
RC: Keep going. I do have five acres of replacement number that we we're trying this year. I'll make some observations with yields and we might dump the old one we've been planting for ten years with it and replace it with something else that's a conventional type of soybean also. But, I, I, we try everything. I've got two kinds of Roundup Ready Soybeans. It's good at one kind, my daddy's half ( ) a new kind. But those things cost twenty-three dollars a bushel for seeds.
GC: Wow.
RC: That's expensive.
GC: Now are they coming from a company
RC: Yes.
GC: like Monsanto or?
RC: Well no. Well, related to Monsanto. They're, they're connected.
RC: But companies like Asgrow or you've seen these signs on the road probably, that sell soil--, seeds.
GC: So it, it's, it's modified? I mean, it's, it's, it you can't purchase it just--?
RC: It's gene-altered.
GC: Yeah.
RC: It's gene-altered.
GC: What do you think are the cost and benefits of, of, in general, of your own seed versus, versus stuff you have to buy?
RC: Well this, again, the fact that you can go over the top drastic. This is the (clean) field out here. And I've got one field I'll show you when we go out to the farm that I used the old fashion seeds and another kind of chemical that because of the draught did not work. So we've got some weeds in that field.
GC: Uh-hum. But, but you said your yield for the traditional variety is
RC: Just as good or better.
GC: just as good--?
RC: Last year it was better on all, everything. I, I keep good records.
GC: So how do you explain that?
RC: I don't know. Hard to explain.
GC: Yeah.
RC: The facts--. You, there, there are no, there are no cut and dried answers when stuck on a farm. That's why it makes it so interesting.
GC: And it changes--. The climatic change has a lot to with it right?
RC: Absolutely. Just like I have never planted wheat in a field like I'm going to plant tomorrow probably where there's rye grass three inches tall. But I sprayed with Roundup yesterday hoping that it does kill that and take effect. And I, I was assured this morning by the guy from the chemical company up in the mountains that he said it would work. It better work.
GC: Yeah. Right. What about the climatic change? Have you seen a consistent pattern of change over your years?
RC: No.
GC: Or is it just go back and forth?
RC: Well we've had, there have been drought conditions, goes back a hundred years I've heard my father tell about droughts in his childhood. We've had some unusual drought in the last four or five years, but we may have wet seasons for the next five years. You can't tell.
GC: Right.
RC: I'm, I'm not necessarily a believer in global warming. I've, I've-maybe I listen to Rush Limbaughtoo much, I'm not sure-
GC: [laughter]
RC: I don't believe everything he says, but--.
GC: But you haven't seen the proof.
RC: I haven't seen any, any proof of it.
GC: So you don't feel like it's going more from one extreme to the other than it was?
RC: No.
GC: The variations about the same?
RC: Now I'm, I'm aware of the problem with combust--, the engines and all that, carbon dioxide-I know all about that stuff. Yet the carbon dioxide is important in plant growth too so--.
GC: Yeah. Right. You got to have it, right?
RC: You've got to have it, so--.
GC: And in terms of the drought in the past few years, was that, you've weathered that all right? How has that affected you?
RC: It did change the fact that I, we had droughts several, oh, six or eight years ago, about two in a row. I did not raise any corn. I have all the equipment to plant and harvest corn, but I haven't raised any corn now in probably six years because
GC: It just takes too much water.
RC: it takes too much water and the cost of putting the corn seeds in and killing the weeds and fertilizer is much more than soybeans. So I've just opted out of corn into soybeans.
GC: And, what about, what about the, the selling end? Where, where, where does your product go and who are you competing with basically?
RC: Well the wheat we sell to Midstate Mills in Newton, which is a local company that makes flour. I almost (never even) heard of it. I grew up down here in the country. They soybeans I haul to a place up in Longview above Hickory and the guy sells to Cargill, ships, ships it out on rail cars. Of course the competition is primarily for wheat is the Midwest and for soybeans it's Brazil and Argentina, those places, the countries. We taught them how to farm and they farm real well. And they're competing with us now.
GC: So it's a real, it's a global market place now.
RC: It's a global market.
GC: Has that changed over the course?
RC: Yes it has changed. At one time we supplied the soybeans for the world. Now the world supplies soybeans for the world.
GC: Right. But I mean, I'm saying, like in this area, were, were you competing on a more local market before and has that shifted to a larger and larger market?
RC: The local market here is affected, just like a price of wheat at Midstate Mill; it's governed by the Chicago Board of Trade, whatever it says.
GC: Oh OK. And it's always been that way?
RC: Always been that way.
GC: And does, does a local company like Midstate prefer to gets stuff locally or do they not care?
RC: They, they, they like the local stuff but they don't get a bonus for it. They can ship it here from the Midwest and have, have the same price basically in the wheat that we set to it.
GC: So is that why the prices tend to be so low? Because the there's such a large
RC: World, I mean--.
GC: world supply?
RC: Yeah. World supply.
GC: And you have these huge farms out there and so--?
RC: Yeah. That's exactly right.
GC: Thousands and thousands.
RC: Thousands of acres. Have you ever been through Iowa and Indiana? You know what I'm talking about.
GC: Uh-hum. How, yeah, how is it possible to compete with that at all? [laughter]
RC: Well it's amazing how we do. And again there soil's much more fertile than ours too. They, they can get more yield per acre. Whereas around here if we get, people raise corn we get a 100-125 bushels of corn per acre that's great. Out there they make 200 bushels per acre.
GC: So what do you think the trend is? Do you think, I mean--?
RC: The small farmer is going to be out around here. I mean, that's, that's the sad part about this whole thing. Most, most the farmers in Catawba County are old except this one I mentioned I think he's is forty-six probably. He's one of the younger farmers and when all of us old--.
GC: What's his name?
RC: Stanley Stewart. He's very active in the community. His daddy was county commissioner. His daddy works for Hanes and he's, he's probably sixty-six years old, but he still helps his son farm too. He has farming background also.
GC: But besides that, you're saying they're just mostly aging out.
RC: Aging out. Dairy farm, I think there's six in the county. There's not an active cotton gin. I mentioned that earlier. That's, that's a change that occurred. So we, I think, a lot of these planning situation, they have these small areas planned. Did you ever talk to planner Mary George? Did you ever talk to her yet?
GC: I haven't yet.
RC: You need to talk to her about the-she knows the whole situation. She been in this county twelve year I think and she knows all what's going on. Of course, Paul Beatty's on the planning board too.
GC: Yeah.
RC: He's involved in these small area plan, but they're trying to, in fact I looked at some this morning I'd gotten, concerning what's going to happen in this county. Concerning voluntary agricultural district ordinance. We may have some, a chance to sign up for about 400 acres of land and get some benefits from it. Of course there are, there are benefits to farming. This taxation, use tax, you've heard that before I'm sure.
GC: Right. Right.
RC: That helps a lot. But again this is something that may become a law, maybe a sign this farm is in a voluntary equitable, distri--, district, if you build a house across the street and we, I have pigs-I don't plan to have any-but there are odors, you know what's there before you move in.
GC: Yeah. Right. So basically
RC: They can't sue you. They can't--.
GC: as a district that creates protections for farmers?
RC: Right. But it's voluntary and you can get out anytime you want to. I, I haven't heard much about it, but consider--.
GC: Yeah. I've, I've, they've--. I've heard a lot about people doing that. I mean over in Iredell, Rowan, also. And you know what the place I used to work for, Catawba Land Conservancy, is, has been doing is conservation easements, which is voluntary too. You know where someone puts there property under an easement, which basically cuts the, cuts the taxes, federal taxes and then you get a state tax credit and maybe a local use tax valuation, that depends on, from place to place too. But I don't know, you think there's a possibility for, for maintaining rural lands using, using these, these sort of voluntary (methods)?
RC: I sure hope so. In fact, I, I hope that my children are able to, to survive without selling (out), when my wife and I pass away that they can keep the farm as such. I haven't made any stipulations in my will, they can't sell it, but--.
GC: But you'd like to see it and be able to keep it.
RC: I think that they have the background that they would keep it. I don't think it'll ever be sold and developed. I tease my son once in a while when we have a bad day, bad crop, we need to start selling lots.
GC: [laughter]
RC: And then, of course, he, my son has purchased some land next to mine out there also. He's paying for it too. He's a, he's rural orient--, even though he lives in the city right now and works in a city church, he still likes to come home. And likes to see his little girl get involved in the farming operation. They work the land out here.
GC: That's neat. So they have a, you feel like your, your family has a, younger generations have a real appreciation for the land?
RC: Yes. In fact their little girls leave their farm shoes, they have clodhopper shoes that they go with us to the watermelon patch, get a watermelon, they ride in the combine, they do the various things. But again this gives them the appreciation for nature. Nature's beautiful. I mean, I've got, I go out to the pond, I went out there yesterday twice. There's a great blue heron at my pond.
GC: Oh wow.
RC: I've seen a white ibis, I mean white egrets rather not white ibis, but egrets out there. Even though the Cana-Canada geese are a nuisance I still like to see them. The deer, I love them even though they can be a pest.
GC: Yeah. It's neat. It rejuvenates you. What do you, what do you--? I mean, they, the next generation, your children probably wouldn't farm it would they?
RC: I don't know.
GC: Or would they?
RC: I don't know. I just don't know. If my son were to retire early from the ministry I would, I can see him moving to Catawba County and to the farm. [telephone ringing] Excuse me.
GC: Yeah. But anyway you were saying about your, what your kids might do.
RC: I don't know. You just never know.
GC: I mean if it wasn't farm would there be another-I mean I guess I'm thinking about like with easements and stuff-would there be another way to, for it to still be open and still be useful in the area?
RC: Well I really believe that if my son will continue farming, I mean he's been, he's been in the ministry sixteen years. Another fourteen years probably he'll be retiring or maybe get a smaller church as a pastor or something in the area.
GC: In this area?
RC: In the area. And I think, I think he would maintain the operation. I really do.
GC: And--.
RC: Of course, being seventy-one years old and having a grandfather who lived to be ninety-six and a father at ninety-three,
GC: You're going to keep it going for a while.
RC: I, I hope I keep it going for myself for a while, but you never know.
GC: Yeah. Right. So yeah, I mean, you do think the future of it is in farming?
RC: Yes. I, it's farming. I think, I think definitely. I have, I have no dreams of developing it.
GC: Right. Right. I mean so there's--, and there's going to be someone who can farm it.
RC: Yes. It'll be someone. Just like this young Stanley Stewart. He rents land. He might be available to rent it and if I, I die and my wife still surviving, to pay her rent or my son rent or whatever it might be. I don't know.
GC: Well that's neat.
RC: And who knows, these grand, grandsons might decide, they may get an education and may get in the boat business but they still might want to farm some. They have it in their blood a little bit; they might want to farm some.
GC: Right. Right. That's right.
RC: There are a lot of hobby farmers.
GC: Uh-hum. Let's see. [pause] Well I want to ask you about particular places that are special to you, but maybe you'll show me
GC: when we go out and see them. I'm just interested in places that have special, special meaning to you. I mean do you want, do you, do any come to mind or do you want to just--?
RC: Well I'm going to drive you over to, let you see my church. That is a historical place really. It's an old church, cemetery. And I think, I think you got the farm, you've been to Camp Meeting, you knew about the Camp Meeting. That's interesting to me.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Murray's Mill is of interest to me. It, my water off my farm drains into Murray's Mill Creek and the pond there.
GC: That's right.
RC: So--.
GC: And, and I mean, in terms of, on a personal level, what, I mean, like you mentioned like the place where you and your, the first field that you and your wife had. Was that--? Are there places like that that have certain like personal significance?
RC: Well that one does particularly. Of course having bought this farm in 1973, and my father retired by then, he had been with me out there the whole time. He was very active in my farming, drove a tractor all day long. In fact, even as recent as five years ago, he would drive a tractor ten hours a day. And he drove our grain trucks to and from the field for us and to Midstate Mills. But of course now that he's older, he can't, quit driving. But this time with him and my son mean a lot to me as far as sentimental.
GC: Uh-hum. That's three generations of people working together.
RC: Right. Right.
GC: Were there times when all three of you were--?
RC: Oh yes. Many, many times. That's, that's a pleasant memory for my son particularly I'm sure. In fact I spend my, I reminisce with my daddy quite often of some of the things we did.
GC: What other experiences of the land do you have from child--, like say from childhood? What, what were your earliest experiences? What were you doing when you were a kid?
RC: Following a mule cultivating cotton and corn or hauling corn. Having corn shuckings. These are, this is for my--.
GC: Is that a community event?
RC: Yes. Invite all the neighborhood in to shuck the corn and give them stick candy or peanuts or popcorn or something.
GC: [laughter] To keep them happy while they're doing it?
RC: No, actually after, after--.
GC: After they finish, right. And then you took them--? And then you, would you go to theirs too?
RC: Yes. Sure did.
GC: So there would there be a whole series of it.
RC: We sure did. Yes. We didn't have TV then see so it was entertainment.
GC: Entertainment, right.
RC: And, I mean do you find that that sense of community is still pervasive or, or has it changed?
GC: The fact that we have these developments, it's like-I'm sure you watch the news-and I'd say a month ago, a young sixteen year old shot his sister dead with a shotgun. You remember reading that, seeing that on the news? It happened right across the woods here from, about a mile away.
RC: I'm sure I heard about it at the time.
GC: It happened in one of these subdivisions right across the woods here that we should have purchased and restricted it or we should have insisted on Catawba buying it for the school. They're building a new school right out there. They could've built it there. It would have been a great place to go to--, anyway. This community has changed because of the influx of people coming in the community, which, I guess, should be good, but sometimes not. Don't know everybody. I used to know everybody on this road. I don't know everybody. We got neighbors half, a quarter of a mile here I have never met.
GC: So, so you feel like that's kind of, it's more fragmented?
RC: Yes it is. Definitely.
GC: Now, so that's, that's due to influx of new people. Is it also because of people not all sharing the same agricultural lifestyle in the way that they were? I mean--?
RC: Well most of the people that grew up here at least have a garden or a lawn or some flowers.
GC: Right.
RC: They interested in, in the soil, but even though they work at other jobs, they still have, they like the rural atmosphere.
GC: But I mean, what about the, the sort of vol--, hel--, voluntarily helping each other kind of system?
RC: Not, not like it used to be. Not near like it used to be years ago.
GC: It's more each for his own?
RC: Yeah. Of course there's still camaraderie around here. I mean we do things together.
GC: Like what?
RC: Well, just like on this road, if one of the neighbors out here has been here a long time would die, this road-I'm in charge of that-will buy a flower for the funeral. And if she gets sick we take, we take food. I mean it, it's still this-visitation at the hospital. If one of my neighbors is in the hospital I try to visit them, call them. That's, that's true of the whole community really. Becau--. That's partly because of the church. The church is like a family really.
GC: And a lot of people in this little section go to the same church?
RC: Well there are a lot of little churches around here, but a lot of them are Mt. Ruhama members. But there are other people here too. There's some good Methodists in the community, a lot of people don't go to--, in this development, probably don't go to church at all. In fact in our church, did a survey and most of them are non-churched.
GC: And I was just talking the other day to Jerry McCombs down the street, you know him?
RC: Yeah. I know him real well. He's, he was a good, he's about the same age as my son.
GC: Do you find that in terms of people who've been in the community and share, sort of know each other and take, look out for each other, does that, does that cross across racial lines pretty much?
RC: Not, not as much as it, as it should be probably. We have no black people in our church.
GC: Right. Right.
RC: But again, Jerry McCombs has been to our house, he and his sister, (Julie) my, my sis--, my daughter's age, have been in there--. They have played together. Jerry is on the
GC: Small area.
RC: Balls Creek Small Area plan and we talk about planning. And we go, we went to the same high school and there is, there are no hard feelings here. We just don't get together. I personally, this is a philosophy a thing, I, I think black people are happier in their own church. I think they have a different type of religion, a different kind of worship service. I'll say that. They're more comfortable in their own setting I think sometime.
GC: But aside from, aside from church you feel like--. Well at least people are comfortable with each other and know each other to some extent?
RC: That's right. We're--. The guy up the road died, right across from J and M about a month and a half ago. The people, the black people all came to his funeral. I mean they just-there's a, there's a closeness but it's not like it's not, not like it, not like it--. Well nothing's as close as it used to be. I'll tell you that right now. Not near as close as it used to be.
GC: And there's some separation since they have their own community, their own gatherings, and their own church and so forth.
RC: Right. Right. Right.
GC: But I mean presumably you've all been living in the same place for a long time so--?
RC: There is no real problem. There is no real problem whatsoever.
GC: Yeah. He mentioned that funeral actually. And he mentioned being close with the Beatty, Barbara Beatty and all their family.
RC: Yes. That's right. Well again, I, I, I sang at that funeral and I, I, I never forget looking back and those guys had their eyes glued on me and kind of smiling. I mean they had, the song meant something to them.
GC: Sure. Sure. I bet it did. Where, where, and all these new people, where do you think they are coming from? Is there any way to generalize?
RC: Well they came here to work. They came here to work. At one time furniture factories and cotton mills were prominent. Of course that's changing and they've had to find employment somewhere else. Of course right now, Catawba County's economy is not the best in the world. You've heard that I'm sure from a number of sources. But, they came here to work primarily.
GC: And plant some type of sort--.
RC: Job opportunities were great.
GC: And do you have any generalization of where people are coming from or just all over?
RC: All over. There, there are people here who are Cuban, Mexican--.
GC: Oh really. So there is a Latino population?
RC: Yes. Yeah. In fact some of them, some of the people work for people around here in landscaping and (its company up there for) employees. And you can go to the grocery store here in Newton and you can hear them talking Spanish or whatever they're speaking.
GC: I would be interested actually in talking to someone from a new ethnic group that hasn't been in the area for very long just for variety's sake. Do you know--, have any idea how I would get in touch with anyone?
RC: No. I, I don't know how to tell you to do that. I just don't know how to tell you to do that.
GC: Like someone who employs some of them or something like that?
RC: Well this guy, Randy Sike who's a landscaper, hires quite a few Mexicans, but he's hard to find. He is very difficult to find.
GC: Hum. Well I could try. But you think it's mostly Latin American people. It's not Asians, any Asians?
RC: A few. Once in a while someone will call me from, who is here from Vietnam or somewhere. They, they eat soybean. They, they cook soybean, like we do pinto beans and white beans.
GC: Uh-hum. Right. That's (right).
RC: I have--. I sold one lady eight bushels of soybeans a couple of months ago.
GC: Just for her?
RC: She heard that I was a farmer and she lived in Newton, came down and bought those soybeans. I've never sold any other of the beans to anybody else, Americans
GC: Just individuals.
RC: to cook. They're good. They're nutritious but they're terrible tasting I think. You can dress them up I guess with various things.
GC: Well sure, but I mean in Asian cuisine you, you make it into tofu or whatever. I mean there's a lot of use for it. So that's interesting. I spent some time in Southeast Asia so I would be interested in talking to those folks too, but I don't guess there are any out in the countryside. It's really more in town.
RC: Well now I tell you who, who might could help you-the lady who runs the cleaners there in Newton. What's the name of that cleaners? I do my, I have my cleaning done there. I can't think of the name of the cleaners.
GC: Is she Asian herself?
RC: Yes. She's Asia. She owns the place, that gal runs it. She manages it at least, so. Gosh. [pause] I can't think of the name of the cleaners.
GC: Well I don't reckon--.
RC: There aren't two cleaners in downtown Newton, one of them's right next to the medical center right there. As you turn right, you know where the little, the (Spruce) down there on the left in Newton? The stop light right beyond that
RC: turn right at the stop light past the Gene's Produce Stand. Turn right at the stoplight. Go to the first road to the left and it's on the left. Right there. That's the cleaners and someone with Asian background runs that place. That's where I, I take my clothes to get cleaned and my shirts laundered.
GC: Well I guess it might be worth a try. Maybe some of them live out here. You think anybody lives in the country?
RC: I don't, I don't know.
GC: Who knows?
RC: Who knows?
GC: Right. Right. Gotta get the old and the new though.
RC: That's right.
GC: That's what I say. OK. Let me see if there's anything else I need to ask you before we go look around. How are you doing on time?
RC: Well I need to get busy. I need to start spraying after while.
RC: I need to, need to, I need to go over about fifty-acres today.
GC: Whew! OK. I will wrap you up in just a sec. Well yeah I'm interested in--. Oh in and just in terms of special places to you, the, the, the graveyard is one too isn't it?
RC: Yeah.
GC: Which you can show me right?
RC: Yeah. Yeah. I'm going to show you that. We'll drive through it.
GC: I'd be interested in seeing your map of it too actually but--. And, and I'm interested in, in your perspectives on the way that the area is changing that we've been talking about a little bit. I mean--.
RC: I have seen, having heard already two of these two small area plans and people there, they are definitely for less growth.
GC: Yeah.
RC: I've, I've looked at that tremendously. Less growth, less trailers, more stick built homes, and just less density.
GC: Uh-hum. And you view that as pretty positive development?
RC: For me individually.
GC: But people are, people are supporting?
RC: I'm definitely interested in preserving some of this rural land.
GC: What kind of restrictions have you, have been enacted over your time in the planning board?
RC: Well--.
GC: I mean in terms of zoning and stuff like that.
RC: Well one time we could, subdivisions had to have, except in watershed areas and this is one-we're in the Maiden watershed right here-but other places you had to have a half-acre lot. Now unless you have water and sewer, you've got to have two-acres. And I'm--. Our board, in my, in the last five, ten years has changed that. So that's going to make it less dense. I also be going more to the stick-built home zones. The--.
GC: In terms of regulating type of structure?
RC: Right. Right. And a lot of these places are given very little area for trailers. But some--, people got to have a place to live, I'm aware of that.
GC: Yeah. Well that was, that one thing I was wondering. I mean two acre lots is good from preserving the area and so forth, but is there a risk that the whole area will get so expensive that lots of people can't, even, even middle class or working class people can't afford--?
RC: That's the, that's the, that's a problem that they face. No doubt about it.
GC: What do you see--? Do you see any way to address that?
RC: Well, I don't--. I've heard it both ways. And again, our schools are overcrowded right now. I don't know what to do about this.
GC: Yeah.
RC: But we don't need any more students in Balls Creek School or Bandys School.
GC: Well I've heard some things about making people, like developers, pay for the cost of the services that have to be provided. Is there anything like that or--?
RC: That's been discussed but never has gone very far. But again that all goes down to, like I mentioned, buying the land. Somebody's got to pay for that. The person who buys the house is going to pay for that eventually.
GC: Right. Right. They need to at least.
RC: I think you're right.
GC: Right. And the water and sewer is that, is that being expanded or are you keeping it from being expanded?
RC: No we're not keeping it. It's cost prohibitive. I mean, we have, we have water. All the schools now have water from Hickory or Newton or Conover, somewhere, but there's very little sewage situation in there. And we got too many septic tanks in the area and that bothers me a little bit.
GC: Yeah. Just in terms of all those septic tanks having to drain off. But I guess not having sewer will automatically limit it,
RC: Absolutely.
GC: limit the future growth. And you don't think it'll come?
RC: Well, it's being, it's being proposed. It's being talked about by county commissioners down the line somewhere.
GC: Coming out through this area?
RC: Yes.
GC: Well that'll make a big difference, won't it?
RC: That'll make a big difference.
GC: That'll, that'll decide the future here won't it?
RC: Yes.
GC: OK well you want to go--?
RC: I'll take you in my pick-up truck and we'll go out to the farm and ride around a little bit if you want to.
GC: Yeah. That'll be good and I can take a few pictures.
RC: August 23rd, we all, and I've already done this. I've already mapped it and made it in my card file here. Here, here's his name, George Henley. Now on that card, it tells you of course his birthday and death day, which I record. And in my map, this is a crude map right here, but here's the cem--, here's the church right here. This is a little road right here. I put the, laid out in grids, twenty-five and twenty-five and he's in grid number eight, and he's grave number 16C. He's buried right there. That tells me where he's buried.
GC: Right.
RC: Eight. And I'll eventually put, 16C will be right here and he's also grave number 1364 and this tell you what, H, like a road map, H1, first line here this is all one. This is row eight, like a road map here.
GC: Yeah. Right. Sure.
RC: So sometime I'll, I'm going to try to get that where people in the community can go over and look or from Newton can go over there and say, "So and so..." We'll let's look at the, find another grave here.
GC: I'll get my camera. I'll just take. I want to take a picture of this work that you've done.
RC: Oh my goodness.
GC: Well, not, not close up. Not close up. Just to show that it's there.
RC: And I have copied all this by hand so that my daughter, and daughter-in-law and son can transfer this to computer.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Make it available for--.
GC: So yeah. You were showing me another one.
RC: Uh-huh. I could've pulled just anybody. It just--. Somebody comes in the community and wants to know where's Rosa Withers' (buried). I knew that woman. "Where's she buried?"
GC: Right.
RC: Well, she's in, of course, grid number five which is right here and she's in 7B, which I in this book right here I've got [camera taking a picture] seven, know exactly where 7B, seven, seven would be right here and [camera taking pictures]--. That's the wrong map. Five, no.
GC: Wow. Yeah. So you've got it all cross-referenced.
RC: I've got it all cross-referenced. 7B would be right here. In other words you go to seven, route 5, and go to E1 and here we are, and grave number 7B would be right in here somewhere.
GC: So, with, within each plot you've got--?
RC: Right. And there are markers you can get to number these grids. Now the church may have to buy that themselves, but I, I'll deal with it. Mark this thing off and staked it, all, the whole cemetery. Twenty-five by twenty-five paces.
GC: Oh wow. That's pretty big, huh?
RC: It's big. You're going to see it when we get over there. But again
GC: That was a job.
RC: and a lot of graves have been kind of destroyed maybe because it was covered up with grass and (crypting) and all this kind. But I know that the graves are there and we can, I can find the monument, maybe a small one, buried.
GC: What are the oldest ones? I mean--.
RC: It goes back to, to the 18--.
GC: To the year, the founding of the church?
RC: 1800. Of course the first church records have burned so we've lost a lot of history. They're so--. Anyway I thought I'd show you that.
GC: Yeah. That's neat.
RC: You can see why I'm interested.
GC: Yeah. Totally. It's very interesting.
RC: And I need to get this done before I die. I mean this is something that people, somebody need to have this information.
GC: Yeah.
RC: In fact I need to get to this right here. In my safety deposit box or my safe because if this gets burned up, thousands of hours of work are going down the drain.
GC: Yeah. Yeah. That needs--. Really someone should make a, you should just make maybe a Xerox copy of it and have two copies in two different locations.
RC: Well I plan to do that. I plan to take this over to my church secretary and let her Xerox it or copy it and put one copy in, in probably in my grid and put it in the safety deposit box.
GC: Hum. [recording interrupted, then resumed] [tape background noise] [long pause]
RC: (inaudible speech)
GC: [laughter] Yeah. Right. Actually my car got vandalized at the beginning of this week. The windshield got broken out so I just had to go get a new windshield.
RC: (inaudible speech) This is the no-till drill we were talking about. This is one of the (mill) factories.
GC: Oh OK. Yeah I'd like to see. Should, should we look at that?
RC: If you want to.
GC: I'd be interested in it. [long pause]
RC: When you're riding in the cab, you can't see it here. [background noise, zipper, opening camera bag]
GC: Oh. You can't even hear what's going on outside. [Sound of engine starting up and running]
RC: (inaudible speech)
GC: Huh.
RC: (inaudible speech) Seed down in the ground, cover them with (the back till).
GC: Yeah. I know why they enjoy this one. Pretty nice. When did you get this?
RC: This is about probably three years old. I had just bought this tractor when this land ( ) bought them at one time.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: And we have, we have dump truck. We have four dump trucks, (hard rain, just sit here).
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: They built this, ( ) my father and my son built this. These are grain dryers.
GC: Huh.
RC: Ran by propane.
GC: Oh wow.
RC: We can harvest wet wheat. We can put it in there and in an hour and half, it comes out dry.
GC: Wow. I'm going to get a closer look at this thing.
RC: We wash everything. Now we cut and wash (everything). It's old but we keep it. [dog panting in background] But the, this thing, disk makes a hole (I had to buy) a new disk and you've got to( ) the seed drop here and they got press (wheel) that pushes it shut.
GC: Oh OK. So it makes like a little slit.
RC: Little slit. You can't tell where you been hardly.
GC: Hum.
RC: It does not disturb the earth at all, hardly. It holds twenty-eight bushels of wheat. It's called a no-till drill. [camera taking photo] If you like John Deere, ( ) [bag being zipped up] the other brands are made too, but you like John Deere. [long pause] [photographs being taken]
GC: You'll have to excuse all my picture taking. My philosophy is, just take everything I can think of and then I'll chose whatever I want later on.
RC: If you'll share some with me I would appreciate sometime.
GC: Oh yeah. Definitely. I always get two copies made so whatever, whatever I get that's worthwhile--.
RC: Well see that soil right there has not been disturbed in three years. I've had that land three years. That was the land I purchased last. It has not been disturbed in three years.
GC: Wow.
RC: These are Roundup Ready soybeans.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: You come back three weeks from now I hope you'll find wheat plants growing. You know we put wheat into a combine, with soybeans, combine, the combine ( ). These are, these are soybeans. And I sprayed chemicals over the top when the beans are about this tall and it kill all the crab grass and most of the weeds. You'll find one once and while, but very few weeds in the field.
GC: Huh. Yeah. It doesn't look--. I mean--.
RC: I'll show you a field that's got lots of weeds that didn't, that were not Roundup ready.
GC: Yeah. So what, what, what's this, the stage--? I mean you can, you can harvest these?
RC: In about two weeks probably.
GC: In two weeks.
RC: They'll, they'll start to dry up and the leaves will all fall of them and be gone.
GC: Oh I see. That's how you--.
RC: The DuPont has to get dry before you can really scratch it. I've got some insect damage there too. There's some grasshopper damage. Always some kind of pest. See that hole right there.
GC: Oh yeah. Huh. But in general you say this crop looks--?
RC: It's pretty decent for a drought year.
GC: Looks pretty good.
RC: That'll make thirty bushels per acre, maybe a little bit more, which is going to be, going to be good this year.
GC: Yeah. And it's planted pretty densely, huh? I mean you don't, there's not a lot of space.
RC: Not a lot of space.
GC: That's waste.
RC: You don't want, want a place for weeds to grow.
GC: Right. And that was planted, yeah, with this thing here right here, huh?
RC: I'll show you--.
GC: Yeah.
RC: This is my son's truck here. He hauls and pulls straw back and forth to Spindale. We have a shop ( ). We do a lot of welding in there.
GC: Uh-huh. What's this for?
RC: This is a grain--. Don't take that, we got a new grain car at the farm. We bought this as, down the woods some while he going, he going-my son going to make it usable too I think.
GC: And back there is that grain storage or--?
RC: Those are grain storage units, yeah. You could dry-we that has grain drying capacity also. We can pump in gas hooked to that we can dry grain and that's a lot of work. You have to shovel and level it out and all that stuff. There's the old canoe we used to take to the swamp.
GC: Oh. What swamp?
RC: Okefenokee.
GC: Oh. Down when you went to Okefenokee. Right.
RC: That's not my field there. That's ( ). I'll have to tease him about that. That's when chemicals did not work. Dry conditions. It did not work.
GC: So it's full of--.
RC: Weeds.
GC: Full of weeds.
RC: (inaudible speech) (dry)
GC: [laughter] I guess so.
RC: Yeah. I grew up right here. This is my, my soybeans right there. That ( ) would cross over. He thinks I'm going to the neighbors out here ( ).
GC: Huh.
RC: Now Stanley Stewart's operation is right here.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: He's a young farmer that's got (transfer) trucks and all that. His grandpa just died recently too who lived right there. This is the group of the (new schools). My wife still works there as an assistant. But again, when I was a child, we knew everybody around here, black or white. We knew everybody, but we don't that any--, we don't know everybody. [long pause] This is the (pastor) for another little Church of God. We never have gone to this church. ( ) grew up in it. Supposedly a Baptist church ( ) that's on the right over there. Again this development was swampland at one time too. These are good people right here, most of them. I know some of them.
GC: Uh-huh. TAPE 2, SIDE A
RC: I know some of them.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: They go to church. One time I was out in Boone they had a cemetery ( ); right with the church. I got a cousin on, down that road. He's, he's, he's future farmer also. See what the drought did to that corn? This is a terrible yield.
GC: Wonder why they even put corn in? I mean--.
RC: Well it, last year they made 150 bushels per acre without irrigation. [long pause] Yeah I drive down this road probably average three and four trips a day year round for various reasons. My operation is down here. [long pause] This is the cemetery for that little church back there. My farm starts right here on the right in this wheat field right here going into the pasture.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: We paid 5,000 dollars an acre for this about I guess four or five years ago. It's very valuable land now.
GC: Yeah I bet.
RC: My son, he bought seven acres ( ) where the soybeans are right now. He bought that and then I sold it ( ) a few more acres to go with it. That's soybeans they were planting after wheat. That's what's called second crop. [camera taking pictures] Wheat growing in there too. Now the land I first purchased was from here and went in both directions all the way to the woods back there, 152 acres in this area.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: And we added this ten acres up here and had some more to the backside also.
GC: So this is the 1970--?
RC: This is 1973.
GC: --3.
RC: ( ) just before the dirt road ( ), dead-end road. This is the house that the Drums all originated from.
GC: Oh wow.
RC: ( ). The old man died, he was 100-years-old. He lived out there. From this house you've got (lumbering) is probably 100 years old.
GC: Who lives here now?
RC: I rent it to a person (I just).
GC: Oh OK.
RC: ( ) woman lives over there (teaches) my daughter's class over at Claremont.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: In fact they cleared out through the trees to build that house. There are stumps under that house. There's a termite problem on account of those stumps under there.
GC: Wow. So this is when they were first clearing the land.
RC: That's right. It was a long time ago. This is our main operation out here. This is, this is--.
GC: Yeah. [car door opening, door ajar, door shutting]
RC: It's probably seventeen years old. They're that expensive you know.
GC: Yeah.
RC: We maintain heat to keep it dry all the time. It also has air conditioning and ( ) this combine ( ). It's different to look down in--. You ever been in one of them before?
GC: I'm not--. It's been a long time if I ever have.
RC: It's awe--, it's neat how everything works really. You have the sickle to cut the grain off and goes in this machine and it thrashes it, push down, pull. And I'll spend many hours in that combine in the next couple of weeks.
GC: Yeah. Huh. So yeah. Explain to me how it cycles through.
RC: Again, it cuts it off out there and goes back, this, this knocks it back in this (alverit), it goes into a thing and it beats, beats the grain out and it separates it, the grain comes out in here, under the bushel and the debris is chopped up with a straw chopper on the back end and spread out over the field.
GC: Uh-huh. I have sat in one. They used to have one by my house in South Carolina but--.
RC: This one's clean now. I'm getting ready to go to the field. We do blow them off. Do Windex to clean the windows so you can see out. Again it's got AM/FM radio too and air-conditioning, heating.
GC: Yeah. Huh. How, how do you like spending all that time out there in this thing? Is it alright?
RC: Well I, again, I'm not bored. Again this is the radio and then harvesting it's, it's definitely interesting to see the grain come out.
GC: Yeah. It could almost be kind of meditative out there.
RC: It is. I mean I, I tell people I don't get the chance to mediate, ( ). [camera taking pictures] [long pause] My grandchildren have all grown up riding in there with me.
GC: Yeah.
RC: They've spent the whole day riding with me in there.
GC: [laughter]
RC: This is probably dry today because I was ( ). ( ) water and chemicals in here. [background noise] ( ) go out the sides because it's wet and it can (break one of these nozzles). That's called an applicator. [pause]
GC: And you just fill this up with whatever you're--?
RC: Water and chemicals.
GC: And you can use different chemicals depending on what, whatever the prescription is for that?
RC: Yeah. Yeah. This is a soap marker. That little motor agitates the soap and it tells you where you been and you know about where--. It's pretty hard to tell where you've been unless you have some kind of marker.
GC: Yeah. Yeah that's good. [background noise]
RC: That shed burned down right there one time and I lost four tractors and a combine one time out there.
GC: Oh no.
RC: Sure did.
GC: Wow.
RC: This is another combine we bought just like that one. We bought it back in January. We have never farmed (with it). We didn't even get to the first time.
GC: Is it new or--?
RC: No. They made that one.
RC: We gave 14,500 dollars for that combine back in January.
GC: Huh.
RC: Looks very similar to that one. But a new combine now may cost you 100,000 if you buy new.
GC: I was about to say, 14,000 doesn't seem very expensive for [laughter] something this size.
RC: No. You can grain caught ( ). We've been sacking our soil, our seeds, now we're going to do it in bulk. We got a, back it up to that drill we had there at the house and auger the wheat right into the drill without having to touch it. ( ).
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: This is where the bale of straw ( ) right here. We hooked those wagons behind this bevel and the, the straw go at the back end on to this, to this wagon and someone stacks it on there for us. But here's where chemicals did not work, did something to the weeds.
GC: Uh-hum. Yeah.
RC: Now these, these weeds, these soybean seeds are ready to harvest. All we need now is dry, dry weather. [background noise] ( ).
GC: Oh yeah, right. Well it is just sitting and rusting now, huh?
RC: ( ) they get dried out.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: In fact we might try them tomorrow. ( ) They are about ready to harvested them this year yet. See the weeds is what's going to (work). But they, we can, in fact that beans still soft, which means it's not quite ready to pull yet. [pause] But, but this weed problem is again related to drought.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Chemicals did not work properly. In fact the chemical company gave me replacement chemicals free.
GC: Oh. To make sure they were--?
RC: Because they didn't work. [camera taking picture]
GC: Now you can taste it and tell?
RC: You bite it.
GC: You bite that. The texture.
RC: It should crack. It should crack and it's not; it's just denting, making a dent in it.
GC: So what do you think you'll do?
RC: Well we'll probably--. We might dry them. We might harvest them tomorrow because we want to put wheat back in here too.
GC: Yeah.
RC: And as soon as we get these harvested, the better, the quicker we can get the wheat back in and let it come up.
GC: And that's all--. You're talking this whole area over to there and over to there?
RC: Yeah. Yeah. Right.
GC: What's in the back here?
RC: Well we have--. That's a new kind of, that new kind of soybean that's over there in the second field.
RC: On the backside is after wheat so it's, it's, it will be a month away before we cut those. But I won't put wheat back over there at all. But we'll put wheat in here again.
GC: Hum.
RC: So I look forward, when I get in here, that getting that drill I can drive for three hours without getting out if I want to.
GC: Oh right.
RC: For putting the new wheat seeds in. It's kind of, it's kind of fun in a way.
GC: Yeah. Yeah.
RC: You can't go to sleep because you got to watch where you're going.
GC: Right. [laughter] So, so do you usually cycle it so that it's going soybean, wheat? I mean rather than keeping the same thing?
RC: We keep wheat, sometimes we put ( ) wheat sometime we don't. We just kind of rotate it a little bit. It's good for the seeds, wheat can get germination and they can get resistance.
GC: Uh-huh. Try to get these sheds here.
RC: We had a shed here one time too that just blew down during a storm.
GC: Goodness.
RC: ( ).
GC: Had a rough time with your shed.
RC: Yeah.
GC: [long pause] [background noise] [camera taking pictures]
RC: Again, having this kind of weather here is good because of all this equipment out here.
GC: That's right.
RC: I made them sign a notarized statement that their kid would not play on my farm machine and if so I would not be liable.
GC: Right.
RC: So, but the fact they're here keeps burglars away from out here.
GC: Absolutely.
RC: People do steal tractors easily.
GC: Yeah. God. You think that would be hard, but--.
RC: But, but, they could drive off in the middle of the night and be, be gone, put it on a big truck and you'd never know where it went.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: End up in Mexico.
GC: Yeah. [laughter] But you haven't had any trouble with that so far?
RC: No we've had very little problems. [long pause] [background noise]
GC: Now where do you, where do you do hay?
RC: We don't make any hay. We do straw, like with the combine of wheat, we make, we make the straw. That's straw back there.
GC: OK. OK. So, right. So it's never hay that you're baling,
RC: We don't make hay; we make straw.
GC: it's just straw.
RC: Right.
GC: So that's all just--?
RC: It's all straw.
GC: What, what are you going to do with it?
RC: We sell it.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: (We make it, most of it's spin bale) and just take it back over there and--.
GC: For livestock or--?
RC: No. They're a garden center.
GC: Oh OK. [background noise] [long pause] You never do round bales?
RC: No. Landscapers don't want round bales.
GC: Well that's true. It's too big.
RC: Too heavy.
GC: It's too big for them.
RC: Too heavy.
GC: That was the kind we used to have when I was growing up. I used to--. It was the ultimate challenge to get up on one of them, but these are ( ). [long pause] So do you let them sit here for a while on purpose?
RC: Well as fast as we can haul it, we will haul it. Demand, of course, is part of it.
GC: Right. [long pause] [camera taking pictures] [long pause] So what's the total contiguous acreage out here if you add all the pieces that you've added together?
RC: Around 300.
GC: Uh-huh. But your original twenty-two is not contiguous with this?
RC: No, no. It's off ( ). It's over near the church.
GC: Yeah. Right. That's what I thought. [background noise] [camera taking pictures] [long pause]
RC: ( ).
GC: [laughter] Yeah.
RC: [truck door opening and closing] [engine starting] [long pause] Got some people lived in this house about six years ago, the man was in, had a heart problem. He had been a truck driver and he helped me on the farm, but he died on a Saturday morning. He had a thirteen-year-old son.
GC: Hum.
RC: He stayed home the next week from school and I had, in fact it was a shed exactly like that one and I had some straw packed in one side of it and I had a big, a combine the same size as that one and a John Deere tractor and three old models tractors in there plus some other stuff. He went out there, he and his friend on a Friday, after his father died the previous Saturday, and they were in there smoking, caught the straw on fire, and burned, burned all that mess up.
GC: God, what a tragic week.
RC: I was, I was in Charlotte teaching and I got the phone call that my shed's on fire. I headed home. Of course it was all over 'til I got here.
GC: Right.
RC: Now this twenty-acres, ten-acres right here I bought recently from, from a man who died and left a trust. I bought that from him ( ). You see I own all the property that, on this side of the road, and these houses here. So, and that, got all the land occupied here, they can't build many more houses in this area that's for sure.
GC: Nah.
RC: But they're good neighbors. These are good-I know these people. They're good neighbors.
GC: Yeah.
RC: This is a dead end road, but I had most of the right of way that I pushed to get pavement done. Everybody signed it of course.
GC: Hum.
RC: Back when I bought this place it was an old house, a rental, a tenant house right here. Buried right here in these trees. That cable, [door opening] that cable is not anything. It's just to keep (honest) people out.
GC: [laughter] [camera taking pictures] [long pause]
RC: People can go in there can get in, but
GC: Yeah. Sure.
RC: it's only a sign.
GC: At least it sends the message.
RC: That's right. And I'll spray this field today with the Roundup to kill that rye grass that's come up there and I'll put wheat in there, probably, maybe tomorrow.
GC: It's a nice little standard oaks there as a result of the townhouse in there.
RC: Yeah. I decided to keep that. That old house, they had it buried. Now the first land I bought, the line was right here. This, I bought this, years later from some of the Drums. Then, then I bought another patch of land down in the lower side from the Drums later on.
GC: Uh-hum. [long pause] [camera taking pictures] [long pause]
RC: I spent a long time, it took me two hours to move all this.
GC: Oh wow.
RC: Again this is, we have a generator. We hooked up this electrical, electrical cord right here and we can light the place up.
GC: Huh.
RC: An outdoor toilet so people can use it if they want to use it here.
GC: This is neat.
RC: Well, this was about, built about eleven years I guess.
GC: And the primary purpose is as, as a water source?
RC: Well fishing is what we built if for really. I mean we have a little paddleboat we bring out here when the kids are not here and we have a canoe we bring out here.
GC: [laughter] Huh.
RC: We don't leave them out here because people will steal them, but I get my water for my applicator right here.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: I pour it out of there. [pause] I don't know if this farm is what you want to see but I'll take a different route. But all this was in the woods when I first bought this land, bulldozed,--.
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: My kids, my, both my children grew up out here picking up rocks.
GC: Well let me get a picture of that pond.
RC: You'll, you'll--. Tell me where you want to get it.
GC: Oh well I can jump out.
RC: I see, I see a great blue heron sitting over there beyond that Cypress.
GC: Oh yeah. Oh yeah!
RC: See over there next to that Cypress tree?
GC: Uh-hum. I see him.
RC: Now that's neat.
GC: That is neat.
RC: I don't know where you want to get out. It's up to you where you want.
GC: Let's go up to this pond.
RC: People go up to Okefenokee swamps to see great blue heron and I've got one right here all the time.
GC: Right. Yeah. This is good.
RC: Any, any, anywhere you want to get out that's fine.
GC: This is good. [pause]
RC: It's very peaceful out here. I enjoy it.
GC: Uh-huh. [car door opening and closing] [camera bag opening] [long pause]
GC: Do you know the folks over there? Do you know the people over there?
RC: Yeah I know them. [long pause] [camera taking pictures]
GC: Yeah. They seem to be doing alright. Where did you get 'em from?
RC: [inaudible speech]
GC: Yeah I was wondering. [long pause] What's this big ole ring?
RC: We feed the catfish in that ring. They're trained. You put dog food and it'll float in there and they'll come up and feed and the (kids) will come watch it.
GC: Huh.
RC: There are catfish in there that's about, that weighs probably six, eight, ten pounds.
GC: Wow. What, what other kinds of fish are there?
RC: Bass and bream. If I had that generator out here we'd turn these lights on. People fish down here at night.
GC: Huh. That's neat. [long pause] [camera taking picture] Who shot that old school bus?
RC: That's a bit of junk up there. That guy's got all kinds of junk up there. He's a good neighbor but he sure is good with (waste).
GC: [laughter]
RC: You can see that we keep our stuff put it on (rows), cleaned up.
GC: Yeah right, but you can't control the whole view I guess.
RC: [sound indicating negative response]
GC: Yeah. This is a neat little place for a little get together.
RC: Yeah we, yeah we made the--, had, had the pond made. We dug the grass ourselves. [pause] But my son he planted (blueberries that year), and pecan trees. He's always been interested in what's going on out here. But my daddy built this shed for me. He engineered it. I did the driving. He's the one engineered it.
GC: Huh.
RC: In fact he built all of our sheds.
GC: So he was a good carpenter, huh? A good designer.
RC: I'm a mill driver. I'm not a carpenter.
GC: Yeah. [laughter] [long pause] And what's, and this woods here, is this like--?
RC: Kind of swampy and ( ). That little spring down there it's not farmland really. It's good to have this area that you don't farm.
GC: Right. Between the fields. And what about this part over here?
RC: (Same thing).
GC: Can you see the creek down in there?
RC: Yeah. I'll take down to Balls Creek ( ).
GC: Yeah that'd be neat to see Balls Creek. Yeah. [doors opening and closing] [truck starting] Now is Balls Creek started yet up here or--?
RC: Yeah. It's well on down on Little Mountain Road over there. But again, water goes this way toward Murray's Mill.
GC: Right. [long pause]
RC: We had a wheat fire, field fire here through these trees. [laughter] All kind of things happen to me.
GC: [laughter]
RC: The combine set the fuel on fire. Very ( ), (had to pull out), burned about twelve acres of this field right here of wheat.
GC: How did it--?
RC: Fire department. It was really terrible.
GC: Oh you got bees, huh?
RC: My son bring, brought those bees here. They help pollinate the watermelon and cantaloupe.
GC: Oh OK. Which are where?
RC: We (had had) ( ).
GC: Oh OK. How did the combine set the wheat on fire?
RC: A bearing went out and kept grinding and grinding, set a spark in the fuel drive and caught the fuel on fire. I was sitting on it with fuel on fire and didn't even know it.
GC: Hmm.
RC: But I happened to see the flame on the other side of the (header). Luckily I grabbed a fire extinguisher. We had the field on fire. And I 911, I couldn't hit it. My son was up there hauling straw and he called them. He had a ( ).
GC: You're lucky you got out of there alright.
RC: Yeah.
GC: Did you drive the combine out of it? [background noise]
RC: ( ) (It could've been dangerous). There are dangers that harm you.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Now here's, again, the young pine that set out last year.
GC: Hum. Uh-huh. [long pause]
RC: But we do have the grass borders that drive down our field. We had watermelon here one year. I had six acres all from here on down of watermelons one year. Those are pretty good soybeans right there. That's that old fashion bean again see.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: Again this is the planting the same type of (sheds), same treatment, but look no weeds.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Now how do you explain it? You can't explain it.
GC: That is funny.
RC: No way to explain it. The chemicals work fine here but not up there.
GC: Hum. Is it something about the soil or--?
RC: I don't know. That's going to be probably my best bean. That's the old fashion bean again. Probably the best yield I'll have right there.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: I can drive all the way around the backside too. But now the conservation people encourage this border. They, they help.
GC: Well and you've got this whole area too beyond it.
RC: Right. I've got some people want, wanting to deer hunt out here so I, I let them deer hunt and get, each one give me fifty hours of straw hauling in the summer time.
GC: Oh that's a good way to do it.
RC: That way I'll have no money changes hands.
GC: Yeah.
RC: They, they, they hunt. I, I hope they kill some deer 'cause there,
GC: There's too many of them.
RC: there are too many of them. This, this water comes out of my pond right down here. By the way this wasn't flowing this full two weeks ago.
GC: Yeah I know. We've had some serious rain. [long pause]
RC: Now I won't put wheat back in here. I will wait on soybeans again next spring. There's a lot of planning, the ditch here. When I first started to cultivate this, I about washed it away, this hillside. The old original house I buried right up there. When I bought this land there was an old house standing there. It fell down and I had it buried right up there in that field with the original pioneer Drum lived. I've got pictures of the old torn down building.
GC: Do you remember there being tenant farmers?
RC: Oh yes.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Yes. In fact I, some of those people I knew, I knew they were black people. They, they build tenant houses and pick cotton, hoe cotton, pick cotton. Yeah I've only owned this land about five years. This backside here. Had it terraced of course to cut down the erosion. Now we don't have to worry about the erosion too much because
GC: No till.
RC: no till farming. [long pause] And I picked up rocks and roots and all kinds of junk. [long pause] Take you into Balls Creek. It's right over there.
GC: Hum.
RC: Maybe what I'll do is pull on over. I need to get through there. [doors opening and closing] [footsteps]
GC: Oh yeah. There's the creek.
RC: This is Balls Creek. This is, this is the line. I don't, I don't own across the creek.
GC: Oh OK. Are they farming over there too?
RC: That's pasture. ( ) The state requires you to stay back fifty feet, fifty feet ( ).
GC: Uh-huh. [camera taking pictures] [footsteps]
RC: [inaudible speech]
GC: How many--? How much further is it down to there?
RC: Probably ( ) miles.
GC: How, how much--? How far is it from the source here? How far is it from its
RC: Where is its origin?
GC: origin, yeah?
RC: Probably about three miles, four miles.
GC: [camera taking pictures] Water's pretty clear huh?
RC: Yeah. It's clear. Yeah and that's, again, ( ) water their pastures with it.
GC: Is there any, anything in here fish wise?
RC: Several what we call suckers and bream in there.
GC: Crawdads?
RC: ( ). [long pause]
GC: Huh. It's nice. It's a nice little area. Do kids ever come down to the creek?
RC: ( ).
GC: Stay in view. I want to get a picture of you down from the, up from the below here. Yeah. That's good.
RC: I'm dressed up.
GC: Well we're out doors; you shouldn't have dressed up too much. [long pause] [camera taking pictures] ( ). [long pause] [background noise] [camera taking pictures] [long pause] Yeah. Nice. Nice strip, strip of woods.
RC: ( ).
GC: Huh.
RC: ( ). Those deer are prevalent down here.
GC: Yeah. [doors opening] [truck starting] [doors closing] Yeah. I just find that pictures are generally more interesting with somebody in them.
RC: My daddy remembers this, this thing here when he was a child, somehow one of the neighbors over there was mowing the grass or something, making hay and got his finger cut off. And then he grew back up them trees, and there were big trees in here when I bought this. But Hugo made a mess out here because this is all the trees, pines and so on. It was a mess so we got to clear it. It's good fertile land.
GC: Yeah. [long pause]
RC: These terraces are (really) too, too steep. But I thought we were going to be farming it. Each time I've got the terraces made I thought we'd be cultivating and we'd tear it down some. And then we went ( ) and they don't move. They still ( ).
GC: Right.
RC: If you're down here by yourself someday you don't see a car, you don't see ( ).
GC: Huh. [long pause]
RC: Yeah six years ago this was in trees right in here. Since then I've teared it up, farmed it, and again, there are pines to sap, ( ) stump road here too ( ).
GC: Rob Wally?
RC: Yeah. Rob Wally. You see how, again, it gent--, wildlife will be to help plant a place (to live here).
GC: Oh yeah. Or in there. I'm sure there's tons in there.
RC: All the rabbits out here. Some quail.
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: Too many groundhogs.
GC: [laughter]
RC: Probably too many deer. I bush hog this every once in a while going back, going back in. My son built a hunting stand right here,
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: but he never hunts. He doesn't have time. He's busier than I am. [pause] But this is my line ( ) but that there center line ( ). [long pause]
GC: Actually can you stop for a minute? I want to get the contour of the field there. It's nice. [door opening] [long pause] So you put, you do all this plowing on the contour basically?
RC: All the farming on the contour. We always terrace the land, sweep it down the road, now this no till farming has literally cut out these gullies.
GC: But I guess it's still worth it to, to contour.
RC: Some people strip crop, they tear terraces down, but I, I'm not going to do that. That's a rottweiler. I don't really like those dogs. I don't trust those dogs at all.
GC: Yeah. [laughter]
RC: They're dangerous.
GC: Dangerous dogs. [dog barking]
RC: Again they're the people down there. I know those guys but they don't have a right-of-way down here. Now this is a cart way. I don't have any room. They can't really do much building down there because they don't have a right of way. I wouldn't let them have it. I just would not--. A cart way is fine.
GC: Yeah. [dog barking]
RC: This guy here could sell a lot. That, that's the only chance of having more development down here. It's pretty well private down here.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: My fire started right, the combine about forty yards out in there.
GC: Oh no.
RC: I was heading that way and I look behind and I saw smoke on the header itself and I said, "There's something going on." I got out--. When I opened the combine door and looked back the whole field was already on fire behind me so I drove out of the field and got the fire extinguisher out real fast up here put it out here and so it didn't go out to the trees. About fifteen acres burned, good wheat, big wheat, wind blowing, dry as it could be, scary as it could be. Three fire departments had a hard time getting it out. I think my son finally brought a ( ) down there. He went around the field cooling down with water.
GC: Oh to, tear, to turn up the soil.
RC: Yeah when I bought this place it was a little ole house down right there in the middle down of that thing there. [background noises] It's approximately one mile from the cemetery up there to the backside over near that creek down there.
GC: Diagonally across?
RC: Diagonally across yeah. Not much territory that--.
GC: Uh-hum. What about this woods over here? Is that yours?
RC: Yeah. Part of them are--. That's the last ten acres of land I bought a few years ago. ( ) small creek over there too.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: Yeah I bought the place and there were old barns standing around here and tore all them, they're, they're buried in the field out there. I love, I like rustic things but they were in my way and I had no need for them.
GC: Uh-hum. [long pause] So do you hire help sometimes?
RC: Pretty hard to hire anybody. No one wants to work.
GC: Uh-hum.
RC: We hire--. My son brings some of his youth, college age kids from his church over here. I worry about that 'cause you don't want them hurt. They'd sue for a lot of money. I don't, I don't get in the volume of business of hiring and labor and being workers' compensation and all that. I don't want to do that.
GC: Yeah. [long pause]
RC: The campground is just ( ) over here to our left.
GC: Oh OK. Yeah. [pause] How long has your family been going to the campground?
RC: My family went some when I was a child, but not an awful lot. We bought that, that quote unquote "tent" in the area about 1966, something like that. I don't, I don't spend the night up there at all, but we used to when the kids were little.
GC: Yeah.
RC: But I don't anymore. It's just a place to go and meet your friends and --.
GC: Yeah. But the family didn't go before that? You were the first one?
RC: Right.
GC: Because you're Baptist and, but--.
RC: That's right. Well, never, nevertheless I directed music at that campground and was MC for the services for about twelve, fifteen years. I MC-ed the program, the church services and directed music, choir, everything for at least twelve years. I'm not sure exactly when--.
GC: So there are a lot of--. There are a lot of people out there who aren't necessarily Methodist right?
RC: Oh yeah. You have a lot of Baptists out there. There are a lot of Baptists out there.
GC: I guess it doesn't much matter.
RC: Doesn't matter. [long pause]
GC: And you find that a lot of people you do know in the community do go there--?
RC: Yes sir. [long pause]
GC: You get any supplies from this place?
RC: Yeah. My, my cousin, my daddy's first cousin used to own that. Had a Shell station there for years. This is the Lion's Club building right here. I'm a member. I'm a charter member. We built that ourselves. That, the community uses that sometimes. But Balls Creek School's been torn down, the old school, but, except the gym. But I, I grew up there.
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: In fact I worked one summer, I helped lay, haul the bricks, have the bricks from the brick mason helped build the gym out there. In fact one of the years I was in college I worked one summer for a brick mason.
GC: Wow. [long pause]
RC: Now a lot of people down through here are relatives. Caldwells here. This is one of the Drum, different Drums right here. Again, church (poorhouse) built right here. She's a Caldwell originally, married a Drum. A lot of connections in here.
GC: Yeah.
RC: One of the old Drums that was kin to those other Drums ( ) lived to be 100 years old lived right there. His family still lives there. My uncle, who's a full time farmer, has been all his life, is eighty-three years old, lives down here on the right. He owns this farm that's right here. He makes sausages and sells them to people. My uncle lived there one time, his (preacher) died early. And my uncle, eighty-three years old, lives right here. And the old home place where my daddy's family was right here on the left. Right here. That's where the old home place stood right there. And then when the estate was settled I had a chance buy so I bought thirteen acres, all this field right here. Thirteen acres and part of these woods. And I gave my daughter and her husband an acre and a half right here to build a house. This is my daughter's house right here.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: These are more soybeans planted after wheat. My daught--. My grandsons have motorcycles and go-carts, whatever you call them, four wheelers in their yards. That's a pretty nice house right there.
GC: Yeah I know.
RC: And then some probably ten years ago, maybe less than that, maybe eight years ago, the people who owned this land down here below this field, the family said they wanted, they had no right of way, the family said that they wanted me to have it since I, they knew I'd keep it, wouldn't develop it. So they asked me, I bought it for a real good price.
GC: Huh. That's interesting.
RC: I got forty acres, these woods, and over, see that field way over there?
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: Forty acres here. And this is all ( )--. I'll be cutting wheat here also, combine ( ). Again Balls Creek, see that little break over there?
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: Balls Creek is over there too, but it's very tiny over there.
GC: Oh OK. 'Cause this is further up.
RC: Yeah. That's Balls Creek. I own land on Balls Creek a couple other places. [pause] And I'll harvest those soybeans probably in the next week and that wheat back there also. So in the next two weeks I'll be combining and planting
GC: Yeah.
RC: if the weather's correct. Now these soybeans here won't be harvested TAPE 2, SIDE B
RC: probably for another month.
GC: Hum.
RC: They're still real green.
GC: Yeah. They look green. [long pause] [dogs barking]
RC: Yeah Balls Creek starts up in, in those woods over across the, across the highway a little bit. That's where it begins.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: But now Balls Creek was already named when I got that, got the land grants from North Carolina when they surveyed it.
GC: Huh.
RC: It's on the waters of Balls Creek. It says that it's on the deed.
GC: That's interesting. Wasn't it named after a mule or something?
RC: After a mule, yeah. [long pause]
GC: Got a lot of active dogs around here.
RC: They know this--. Do you know why they chase this truck?
GC: Why? [laughter]
RC: I usually have my dog in here.
GC: Oh OK.
RC: They know, they remember that. Those dogs are smart.
GC: Yeah.
RC: Every one of these dogs remembers this truck has been hauling a dog.
GC: [laughter] [long pause]
RC: We'll go over to the church next. It's a shame I couldn't find a tractor for you to drive. We'll just keep you here this afternoon let you get some real hands on experience.
GC: [laughter] I know.
RC: All I'm going to be doing this afternoon is spraying and you can't, I don't have anything else to do right now. It's a little bit too wet to plant wheat today I think.
GC: Yeah.
RC: You see this is the development I wish that, I wish the school would have bought, the county would have bought.
GC: Yeah.
RC: That's where the shooting was-back on the back, on the next road back there.
GC: Oh.
RC: Where that young man killed his sister with the shotgun. All kinds of (gun) problems. It's a mess back there. That's why people around here don't want any more developments.
GC: Yeah.
RC: 'Cause people are always hearing sirens going after, county and deputies or whatever it might be.
GC: Huh. [long pause]
RC: Yesterday I put a, sprayed, you'll see a little road right here to the right, little road across the highway. See that little road over there?
GC: Yeah.
RC: Now my daddy owns twenty-five acres down that road, way, about a mile back in there.
GC: Oh wow.
RC: I grew up back, I grew up plowing cotton back there too. But that's where I was spraying yesterday. [long pause] Yeah this Mt. Ruhama's been here a long time. They named the road after it of course, Mt. Ruhama Church Road.
GC: Huh. [long pause]
RC: Now I know the history of a lot of these. One time my grandpa's brother owned all this land in here. I'm, I'm in, can just barely remember him. It's all resold and sold again. In fact I, he's (bought 'em) up through here I helped raise corn in there with my grandpa in there. But the old kid brother lived right here in this old house. Since then they've redone it.
GC: It's a nice little old house.
RC: Yeah. [long pause] Now Barbara Beatty owns some land, well her sister owns this land right here and her brother lives right here. Their, Barbara's daddy owned this little piece of property and he bought it a long time ago, but Barbara's brother owns that house right there.
GC: Huh.
RC: I was baptized in that creek down here.
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: Right down in there is a, the baptizing pond. We used to call it the cement dam. I was baptized down in that creek.
GC: Is it still there? The pond?
RC: No. The old damn might be there. [pause] This is the land, the lady that died that, that I bought the land from lived right there in that mess right there. And my great uncle, who originally owned the land, lived right here. See that old log, see that log building right there?
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: Our church owns this land now. She left the rest of the land to our church. So our church owns this property right here right now. And the land that I bought twenty-two acres, see that little break out there?
GC: Uh-huh.
RC: The field behind that is where I, where I own twenty-two out there.
GC: That was the original twenty-two acres?
RC: That was the original twenty-two acres for a thousand dollars. Go in right here. I don't own a right of way to it. Only an old ( ) path out through there. This is Mt. Ruhama Church.
GC: Wow. Pretty big.
RC: We have about 800 members, but they don't all come of course.
GC: Right. Is this like the fellowship hall?
RC: This is the fellowship hall and the Sunday school classrooms and all that kind of stuff.
GC: The people are out today.
RC: They're doing something.
GC: So this is obviously the newer part.
RC: Yeah. This is the newer part. It's the Campbell building.
GC: ( ).
RC: In fact the old pioneer, I mean my old great uncle's buried right there. That corner right there, in the corner. I just ( ). Of course you see how my little road goes around here.
GC: Oh yeah.
RC: In general I can tell you where most anybody's born, I mean buried.
GC: OK. Yeah. Let me get out and take a picture of it at some point. You can park, but--. [long pause] [truck door opening and closing] When was this current structure built?
RC: 50 .
GC: ( )
RC: ( ) right there. An old wooden church ( ).
GC: Uh-hum. What's the oldest, can you show me the oldest Caldwell grave stone that you--? What's the oldest one?
RC: The pioneers are buried down there, in an area way on down there.
GC: I mean I see even those stones there are older.
RC: Yeah. These people are all related to me ( ) right here. Elizabeth Caldwell ( ) all ( ).
GC: Yeah it seems to me pretty scattered, mixed together.
RC: How are ya'll today? US1: Fine. US2: OK. [long pause]
GC: So it's not so much divided up by family?
RC: No. No it isn't. We, we don't sell plots.
RC: I don't, I don't, where I'm going to be buried, I, I, whenever I die I--.
GC: You're just the next one in the next space they have, huh?
RC: That's right. The cemetery committee will make a decision with my wife, if I'm, if she's still around. But some of this in here now these graves here, this is all soapstone rock, that I put by memory, and it could have identified any of them for me, ( ), no one will be buried here ever. This is the old part of the cemetery down here.
GC: Huh. And you still got a few stones here.
RC: Here's where ( ).
GC: Oh wow. [camera taking pictures]
RC: James Caldwell. And his son John who, who had eleven kids is buried right here. This is right next to one of the Bandys in here too. He married a Bandys so--.
GC: Wow. So you do, you've got it, you've got them down to the first one.
RC: Yes.
GC: But you don't--. Do you know who all these other people were?
RC: No. Well now some of those graves that were here that 500 before 1918, that's who they are. I'm not sure anybody knows. I'm sure the people in there that, that, we, we know of, but don't know where they're buried are.
GC: Right.
RC: In fact the older people of the church were, were, we approached them, there was no way that any of the graves could be identified so we decided to take the soapstone rocks out and lay it down and no one could be buried there again. Those rocks were counted, that 500 and something that were here in 1918 were counted. These are legitimate graves.
GC: Huh. Let me get your picture with this original stone here, or at least a marker. [pause] There we go. [background noise]
RC: You want me to scoot down maybe?
GC: Yeah that might be better. [pause] [camera taking picture] Yeah a lot of these ( ). But this isn't soapstone I guess?
RC: No this is granite I guess or something ( ).
GC: Well that's good ( )
RC: Marble or granite or something. And they've gotten, we had these things all cleaned, pressure washed ( ). [background noise] But I spent a lot of time recording every single one of these graves.
GC: Yeah I know. That must be hard in some cases it's probably pretty hard to even make out what's on here. [camera taking picture] [long pause]
RC: For some reason I don't even remember that stone being ( ).
GC: It's at a funny angle.
RC: I do not remember ever recording that right there. I must have missed that.
GC: It's not lined up with anything. It's like it just got put there.
RC: ( ) more. [pause] I don't remember ever seeing that ( ).