HUNKERIN' ED COOPER - A Forgotten Champion

(02/20/2017)

2009: Unfortunately no one showed for the annual Day of Remembrance for Hunkerin' Ed this New Year's Day. I hunkered alone for three minutes with a couple of cars coming up from Rowels Run, the drivers looking intently and wondering what is that guy doing there, hunkered in cold and snowy weather. We'll try again next year, with optimism that a a few faithful souls will join the remembrance.

By Bob Weaver 1996

There he was, all humped up at the low gap at Hur, right across the road from the old bus house. Hunkerin' Ed Cooper would be there since early morn at his favorite grassy spot watching the cars go by, his bony knees poppin' through his blue jeans with smoke clouds circling his head as he chain-smoked Camel cigarettes.

Ed Cooper was an Olympian hunkerer, hunkering for hours at a time in front of Charley Starcher's Store down on Slider Fork or in front of the Mt. Olive Church waiting for prayer meeting to be over.

Hunkerin' Ed was never known to sit in a chair.

He would hunker in people's yards while talkin' on their front porches, or he would hunker in solitude from the head of Rowels Run to it's mouth.

Hunkering and talkin' or hunkering and waitin' for someone to come by and hunker with him.

Alva Bell once said that Ed hunkered nine hours straight on Rattlesnake Knob while they chased fox, never swaying, never folding.

Ed always spoke softly and intimately, which always gave folks a sense of being real close and real special. Like sharing secrets. His tiny stooped frame and furrowed features had that worn look that said he knew things that others didn't.

Stories to be shared just one time, and only with one person during quiet moments of hunkering.

Ed was not the only hunkerer in these parts forty years ago. Calhouners would hunker on road banks, in front yards and sometimes right on the street in downtown Grantsville. A few women would hunker, but they were in the minority.

Hunkering may come with the primal nature in people. Squatting, taking a break, charting courses, telling stories and making friends, much like cave dwellers and hunters in days of yore.

Maybe in the early days of Calhoun County, there just weren't enough chairs to go around. During the past few months I have tried to spot a modern day hunkerer. My frustrating search ended one Sunday afternoon at the Whytsell Park down on the West Fork.

And there, right before my searching eyes was one Roy Pursley, protruding knees and all. Grabbing my camera, Roy proclaimed he was a lifetime hunkerer, learning the art in his native Roane County. He was cheating a little, as he leaned slightly against a post, but my heart skipped a beat when he rose to his feet, his joints snapping and popping. He was a truly seasoned hunkerer. He had been there and done that.

But could Hunkerin' Roy live up to Hunkerin' Ed, I asked? Not likely, for the story is told around that Hunkerin' Ed Cooper was hunkerin' the day he passed away, and to keep him natural the undertaker decided to embalm him that way. Some of us have decided to erect a small marker down at the Forks of Hur to one of our own - "Hunkerin' Ed Hunkered Here:The Twentieth Century," and meet for a few minutes each New Year Day.

Chances are we will ask Hunkerin' Roy to preside at the ceremony. Y'all will be invited and you'll be asked to hunker with the folks from around Hur and reflect with us about some more of the special people who have passed this way. - BOB WEAVER


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