A Wagon Load of Apples
An Oral History Story
“My dad, G.O. Cox, told me this story, recorded on tape, about taking a
wagon load of apples to sell at the Broadway Coal Mines company store.
“Well, we took a wagon load of apples down to the Broadway Mines and was going to peddle them out. Got ‘em all loaded up, and got up before daylight and eat breakfast, got the horses harnessed up, and took that load of apples down there and was going to go…they had company houses in big long rows…and we were going to go from house to house and sell those apples. But…when we got down there, well somebody told them about it at the company store, which was a great big store where all the miners had to trade.
“And, so a man come down there and told us we couldn’t sell those apples…at those houses. That if we wanted to sell those apples, to bring them down to the store and they would buy them. We drove down to the store…and the porch was way up high…had a great big old porch on the side of a hill. Higher than a wagon bed. And that old storekeeper come out there…I never have forgot it…because he had on an apron. And he stood there and looked down at those apples, and told Grandpa what he would give him for ‘em…I’ve forgot what it was, it wasn’t but just a little…bit.
“And there was five or six men all settin’ on benches around there on that porch and…Grandpa looked back at all of them and says, “I’m going to dump these apples out at a certain creek”. I have forgotten the name of it. “And if anybody wants any apples, tell them to come out there and they can get all the apples they want.’ And he gave them horses a click, and said, “Giddyap.” And hit the horses, and we drove off.
“And, we went about two miles out of the town to a creek there with a big steep bank, and he drove the wagon down there, and pulled it back up where the backend of it would be down real low, and he got out and went back there and pulled the end gate out of that wagon and let all the apples roll out.”
(At this point, my daughter, Jennifer, asked: “Couldn’t he sell them somewhere else?”)
G.O.: “There wasn’t anywhere else to go. That was a town. That was all of it. The mines run it and owned it all. (Broadway Mines).”
Janice Brown: “Did all of you pick those apples yourselves the day before?”
G.O.: “Well, of course, we did. We got out in the orchard and went from tree to tree, and picked out good apples, and polished them, and put them on a wagon bed piled with straw. Why heck. We had put a lot of work into ‘em. Everybody picked. Everybody in the family. Yes. Trying to make a little money.”
Jennifer: “That was you and your granddaddy?”
G.O. “Yes, my grandfather Smith. My mother’s daddy…James Thomas Smith.”
Amy: “That sounds like fun!” (at that time, my daughter, Amy was nine years old.)
(My dad next remembered something else about the wagon story and selling apples):
“But I was always saying something. On that same porch that I told you about when we drove up there to sell those apples. Well, there was always a bunch of loungers sitting around there that wasn’t working. And mama sent me to the store one day for something. But when I walked up those big high steps and got up on that porch, well, one old man turned around to me and said, “Hello, Stoebuck.” And I said, “Hello, Homemade.” And just went right on in the store.”
Jennifer: “What does Stoebuck mean?”
G.O.: (chuckling) “It was just a name he had for me. But I have never forgotten it.”
Jennifer: “Because you called him, “Homemade?”
G.O.: “Because I called him “Homemade” -- and all of them guys just like to have fell off the benches. And then I heard my Daddy tell my mother a few days later, that everybody in that mine went to calling that guy, “Homemade.” And that liked to have tickled them to death, you know. And I guess it embarrassed him.”
~ Submitted by Janice Cox Brown