The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Oscar and Clayton Boyd - Down On Old MacDonald's Farm

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1987

Issue: November, 1987

Oscar and Clayton in 1938, shortly before their marriage, in the yard of Mountain View Methodist Church.Oscar and Clayton in 1938, shortly before their marriage, in the yard of Mountain View Methodist Church.Today I am taking you on a visit to a real "Old MacDonald's Farm," the home of Oscar Lee and Clayton Boyd. I drive down a winding road, past the old barn and home place of Oscar's parents, by the old root cellar, then past a beautiful flower bed and I'm in the yard of Oscar and Clayton's home. These are very special people to me because they are my uncle and aunt and I feel lucky to have known them and had them in my family.

Aunt Clayton greets me on the back porch saying, "Aw shucks, you caught me in this old sweater. Come on in, Oscar has a fire in the old wood cook stove since the weather is cool and damp."

Uncle Oscar is putting wood in the cook stove since there is an iron skillet of chicken frying on top. "Pull up a chair and sit down." That's just what I did, enjoying the cozy warmth of the kitchen.

Oscar Boyd relates a portion of his life as we chat.

"I was born August 1, 1917 at the old Babe Pendleton Place way back in the mountains. My parents were Daniel (Dan) and Mary Jane (Mae) Boyd. I have three brothers."

"As a child I liked to play ball and tag. When I was seven years old I would take a saw and saw up pieces of stove wood. My brother and I plowed when we were so small, one of us had to plow and the other had to drive the horse."

Oscar Boyd and his sawmill.Oscar Boyd and his sawmill."Easter was the only time we got to eat eggs and then we had a boiled one. The reason we didn't eat the eggs, they had to be sold for money at the store."

"First thing I knew I was a teenager. I loved to swim at Cockram's Mill. Sometimes a bunch of us went 'skinny dipping'. I began working at odd jobs and making me a little money and bought a motorcycle."

"Uncle Oscar, you mean you had a motorcycle in your teenage years? I never heard about that."

"Yeah, it was a Harley Davidson and I paid about $40.00 for it. I sure did like riding that motorcycle, going around to parties, dances and various places."

"I never can remember where I really met Clayton for the first time. Reckon I just saw her around somewhere. Then I started going with my cousin over in the Dark Hollow some, although I was going with another girl at the time. After awhile Clayton and I ended up together. We went together over a year before we married."

"Our first home was with my parents, then we stayed with Clayton's parents, and worked in the bean fields. Next we moved to the Matt Conner Place and tried my hand at farming and trying to eke a living from the land."

"Then we moved to the Charlie Conner Place and farmed some more. Finally I quit moving around and built this house in 1941 and I'm still here. I didn't have much to work and build with since I was only 24 years old when I started this house. Over the years I did all the wiring and plumbing that's in this house."

"I worked in timber and finally got my own sawmill. We sold milk, raised hogs, farmed and had a few chickens. With the sawmill and the farm we made out and had plenty of food on the table everyday."

"Then I did some carpentry work. I love working with wood, and these days that's my favorite pastime. Clayton tries to keep me in the garden in the summer, but sometimes I sneak out to the shop. Some of the shop equipment I made myself from car parts and things that were round the place. I make cedar chests, Corner and China Cabinets, stools, picture frames, or just about anything. Bringing out the beauty of the wood is so satisfying; I've made a lot of furniture in the house. Just awhile back I made the kitchen cabinets over the sink. In the winter time I build a fire in my homemade oil drum stove and enjoy my shop and working with wood."

"This summer I had a black snake that spent his time up in the top of the shop looking down at me to see what I was doing. One day he got so interested in what I was doing that he lost his balance. Kerplop! That snake came down on a pile of lumber. We get along fine, I just stay my distance."

While Uncle Oscar and I were chatting, Aunt Clayton was hurrying around us cooking   her very favorite thing. Finally I get her to give me a few facts while still bustling around the kitchen.

"I was born November 11, 1918 at the old Omar Place. My parents were Herman Clyde Hall and Nannie Wood Hall. My mother is still living. I had three sisters, one died at infancy."

"The one thing that stands out about my childhood is a doll I got when I was eight years old. Mama and Daddy had ordered it and when the package came, they put me in a room so I couldn't see what was in it. While getting the doll out Mama accidentally turned it over so it cried. I heard Mama say, "Listen to that mouse squeak." But I just knew that it was a doll that cried and it was. It was a great big doll and cost $1.10."

"We lived over in the Dark Hollow and I went to Mountain View School. Guess I liked to play better than I liked school. I had this friend named Georgia and we were always racing trying to out run each other. No one in school could out run us. I saw Georgia at an auction sale the other day. It had been years since I had seen her. What a thrill to see her again!"

"I remember the last spanking I got as a child. There was a print dress that I loved so much. One day I had this dress on and Daddy told me to carry in the stove wood. Well, I didn't want to get my dress messed up so I didn't do it and Daddy spanked me. That was the last one I got."

"As a teenager I did a lot of work; milking, carrying wood, working in the garden and bean field. I always liked to work with horses. One of my favorite past times was riding side saddle and taking my collie dog along."

"I went to parties and dances like most of the young people in those days. We had to stay in line. My dad and Uncle always walked with their lanterns. One would be in front and the other in the back."

"Oscar would be riding his motorcycle up and down the road and I would be watching him. He was going to see another girl at the time, but sometimes came with his cousin over here and we soon got to going together."

"We were married at my home in 1938 by Elder Matt Conner. Then we went over to Oscar's parents for supper prepared by Granny Boyd and Ella Boyd (Conner). I remember Ella made a cake. My wedding dress came from Sears. It was blue with a lace top and lace jacket. My shoes were blue also, but it was muddy that day and after walking in high heels in mud that was ankle deep, they were brown. Of course there was a serenade that night. Oscar was put on a rail and me in a washtub. The tub tripped over and I cracked my head on the floor. That was a fine way to start my wedding night   a cracked head and it hurt a lot, too."

"Oscar and I started housekeeping with a few things. We went to Willie Edwards store and bought three chairs, a skillet and a washboard and tub. I sewed up a few things."

"We started raising our family. I worked in the corn and bean field, taking my first born with me, putting her in a washtub in the field. Then two more children came along and that kept me busy."

"These days I stay busy with my chickens, ducks, canning and freezing. We had lots of peaches on our trees this year. I can my own pie filling for apple and rhubarb pies. Right now I'm into jelly making, grape apple and grape butter. I made apple butter in the oven."

"I enjoy cooking and love making home made rolls; ten or twelve dozen at a time. My grandchildren love them and I love to see them eat when they visit."

"Crafts are another love. I do hoop crafts, pillows and quilts. This winter will be the time I spend on crafts. Right now I'm busy in the garden, canning, walking with friends, and flowers. I love flowers."

"I'm anxious to get back to my basket making. Oscar and I talked about going somewhere to take classes and learn to make baskets. He said, 'I believe I can do that because I helped my Dad as a boy.' So he went over in the woods cut some splits and we made a basket. It looked good and was nice and sturdy. We have made several for family members."

"I can shoot a gun real well, never miss a target. Not really bragging, but I'm a crack shot." (Now my Aunt Clayton is a good shot and I certainly would not fool around with her.)

"Working outside and at home is my love, but I have done some public works. I worked in a factory some, picked apples and worked in our local hospital. The hospital work was very rewarding and I enjoyed that."

"Oscar and I are blessed with three children, a son and two daughters, nine lovely grandchildren, and one sweet great grandson. We are lucky to live in a wonderful neighborhood with caring people."

Aunt Clayton is dishing up a Sunday dinner of fried chicken, homemade rolls, green beans, fried eggplant, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, homemade pie and there's always some kind of jelly and preserves to go with those rolls. I love eating in the kitchen overlooking the pond, listening to the roosters crow; it's so peaceful and restful.

Every time I go over there, it's like going to the grocery store. This day I came away carrying a basket of peaches, grapes, tomatoes and a big bag of chinquapins. But most off all I was carrying one of Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clayton's homemade baskets. They had made one especially for me and I was so pleasantly surprised. This gift means so much to me.

Oscar Boyd is a quiet, soft spoken and humble man. He has a relaxed air about him. I've never seen him be in a big hurry or lose his temper. Clayton Boyd is sweet and always doing things for others. Don't you think I'm lucky to have an Aunt and Uncle like this? They are just some more typical mountain folk in the Blue Ridge. I can hardly wait until I can go back to "Old MacDonald's Farm."