Not many folks remember the slaughterhouse that butchered meat for the stores when Consolidation Coal Company first moved into Jenkins that was located on the right hand fork of Cane Branch Hollow. Our farm was nearby, but the place had been closed down for years. We kids played there, but it was kind of spooky.
Our closest neighbor was Tony Evanoff, whose family came over from Europe to work for the coal company. Our other neighbors were the Conley Greer family. I became good friends with both families. My brothers and I walked to school in Burdine with the Greer kids. The Evanoff kids walked across the mountain to Dunham School.
A sawmill set up operations near our farm for a couple of years in the early 1940s. As a young kid, I worked there part time after school and on weekend. The workers’ clothes looked like someone had taken a shotgun and shot them full of holes from the hot sparks that came from the big wood-burning boiler.
I worked with Charles Mullins, who would become my father-in-law about 10 years later when I married his daughter Estelle. We were married 63 years and she gave me eight beautiful kids. We would live in many states and two overseas assignments together while I was in the military.
When the sawmill left, we took the sawdust, smoothed it out, and made a baseball field out of it. Kids came from Dunham, Burdine and Jenkins to play a game on weekends. Working on our farm in those days, we had very little recreational time. We played many games in the rain.
When I was discharged from the military in December 1946, I came up that very dark hollow late at night. You could not see your hand in front of your face. I walked into a cow lying in the road with my heavy military bag, and when I fell over the cow it scared both of us half to death. The cow jumped up, knocked me to the ground, and messed up my nice uniform from my fall in the cow chips.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.