|By Bob Weaver 2001|
"Farming - A kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God" - Ben
The world in Calhoun County was barely more than one could see in the early
half of the 20th century, the distant ridges and dark hollers.
marched off to the wars in great numbers, leaving their beloved farms behind
for others to tend.
While transportation rapidly progressed in most of America, after World War
II the sight of a single car moving by my Grandfather John McCoy's house in
Hur, aroused curiosity.
There was a rush to the front yard to see who it might
My world was the Village of Hur and the McCoy farm, the Hur Church,
McCoy's store, the post office and a dozen or more nearby neighbors,
connected by a dusty road and some wooded paths. Life may have been
difficult and laborious, but it was not complicated.
It was connected to the
gifts of life, nurtured by that which was grown by hand and distributed by
family and neighbor. People counted because their numbers were small.
Most country roads were still mud, mostly traversing up and down rocky
creek bottoms with few bridges. Antiquated ferries still carried passengers
and autos across the waters of the Little Kanawha until 1960.
Calhouner's were still connected to the earth, its vegetables, fruits and
silage, and animals still grazed on much of the cleared land.
It was life on
the farm, although some engaged in oil and gas and a few construction
projects, survival work like the WPA and the NYA.
A silent but powerful change took place in how families lived after World War
II. It was the time of the last farmers, finally giving way to the industrial
revolution and labor beyond the gardens, pastures and meadows.
A parting from the selling of eggs to the A & P Store, the churning of butter,
the smoking of meat and the canning of hundreds of quarts of vegetables.
For most, it was not by choice.
Still, the first summers after World War II were spent planting and hoeing.
Long days under shade trees with baskets and tubs of food to be peeled, cut
or diced for canning jars or pickling crocks.
The notion of obtaining the food
supply from a supermarket was slowly catching on, eventually giving way to
The agricultural economy, a "hard work" kind of life, still lent itself to some
serenity. I know Grandpa John went to his night pillow with full inventory of
How much food in the cellar, hams in the smoke house, animals on
hoof and hay in the barn. He knew where he stood.
Today, the inter-dependence on hundreds if not thousands of others control
our lives and daily survival.
In New York City during a trucking strike, it was
said the city would be without food in 24-hours.
Even more troubling, much of our supply is now coming from abroad.
Yet, in the time continimum we are barely off
the farm, a short distance from those "primitive times."
There are less than a handful who still use the horse and plow, whose
sustenance comes mostly from the sod.
Most food now comes from corporate producers, grown, canned and frozen to appear in local grocery stores, much of it from countries outside the USA. WalMart's freezers are stocked, row on row, with packaged, quick-to-fix grub, little of it healthy for consumption.
Many Calhouners, because they so desire, still raise a garden, have
some animals and cut hay. It is certainly not profitable, but healthy.
It is in their soul to
stick to the sod of their ancestors.
They will really be the last of the
farmers, to be little remembered.