Norville McCune holding forth with ...
... his brother, Bruce, on their Calhoun hill 'n holler farm
Norville says he still has a lot to learn, shaping a wooden yoke
Story by Bob Weaver
Photography by Chet Dowell 2006
Photographer Chet Dowell (left) is capturing life in Calhoun County, this, the year of its 150th anniversary, the beginning of a new millennium.
Dowell, who lives close to the Village of Hur, is a well-known professional photographer whose works have been acclaimed and sold around the USA, but is now focusing on life in the hills of Calhoun County.
See photo gallery www.chetdowellphotos.com
A few weeks ago, we visited two men who have been the frequent subjects of articles about the "last of the farmers."
Norville and Bruce McCune of Orma, because of their aging, have pretty much quit farming, still holding to the practices, customs and ideas associated with life in the backwoods of Calhoun County.
The men are direct descendants of "ole Peter McCune," who plays a significant role in the pioneer history of Calhoun.
Norville was working in his wood shop, making an oxen yoke and leather-bound holders to wear on a belt for pocket knives, the day we visited. "I still have a lot to learn about making ox yokes," he said, exhibiting a curiosity about ways of doing things.
He often says "If I live long enough, I want to ..."
They had a telephone installed for the first time last year, but don't really like to talk on it. I told them we'd been trying to call for several days. Neither offered any excuses for not answering it.
Bruce relaxes in the living room ...
... and laughs about his carefully crafted shoes,
compensating for "really bad feet" that have been injured
The farm and house, like always, is neat as a pin
Chet said he has always been impressed that everything was neat, land, sheds and house, everything in its place.
Bruce said his feet had been injured in more than one accident, and he has a hard time wearing shoes. "But I fixed these to wear around here," he said, showing-off a pair that had sides and toes removed. "They help a lot," he laughed, calling them "town and country shoes."
The brothers frequently joke about their "disappointment trips" to engage women, coming back to their hollow farm without one.