|Transcript of Interview of Waymon Cole|
|Interviewer:||Michelle A. Francis|
|Date of Interview:||July 16, 1983|
Let's see. Today is the 16th, July 16, 1983, and I'm talking to Waymon Cole here at his pottery. We're sitting here drinking sodas and eating break, aren't we? Pop tarts?
Yeah. I call 'em pop ups. It's uh, I don't know what the name of it is. Buy 'em over at Winn Dixie or any other grocery store you want to go to. (Laughter)
Makes a good snack, doesn't it?
Yeah. That's what I eat for breakfast every morning, and coffee, and then I'm ready to go. I got, at one time I ate a big breakfast--eggs, sausage and had to have a little jelly and stuff on my toast. But I got too heavy and I quit.
Was it hard to quit?
No? Do you. . .
I can quit anything! Except talking.
How 'bout turning?
Well, I could set down and, um, not throw no more pots, but I wouldn't like it.
I wouldn't either!
But, I can't quit talking. Some times I'm told to shut up, but it still don't stop me. (Laughter)
You won't have to worry about me telling you to shut up.
You were telling me last week you started turning when you were, what, 14?
Yeah, I started making pots when I was 14 years old.
You just--how'd you come to do it?
Well, I, um, was raised in the thing and my dad was the one that learnt me how and then I would wedge the clay for him and get on the wheel and he'd show me what to do and how to do.
Mm-hum. And your dad was J.B. Cole wasn't he?
What did his initials stand for?
Mm-hum. I never, don't believe I ever heard the name BeWitt in the sense in that.
I don't think I have either.
I don't know why they did that. Well, it's all right.
Who was your mom?
She was Rosity Emmaline Kagel.
Kagel. Was she from a potter family?
No, she was not from a pottery family and didn't care for it, period.
Uh-uh! Didn't like it.
Not at all.
She didn't hate it, nothing like that. She liked to see it, but to work in it or be in it, she didn't like it at all.
So she just kept house.
Right. She was a good old-fashioned cook. She weren't none of that fancy stuff.
That's kind of the best food you can have just about.
Suited me the best. I can eat it any time.
What kind of pottery did your dad make?
He made, oh, jugs and crocks and pitchers and churns.
Was it stoneware?
Pickle jars. Stoneware.
Salt glaze most of the time. He did do some in slip ware. That was Albany slip.
Albany slip. I've heard of that. Seen it, too.
Only natural, anything naturally comes out of the ground that'll make a glaze that I know anything about.
Mm-hum. Makes a pretty glaze.
Mm-hum. You can um, you can salt that, put in there. And it: takes, the heat, when it is matured, it is about the same heat as the salt glaze.
Yeah. And you can salt that and it makes it pretty brown, a red brown.
Mm-hum. You can salt the Albany slip?
Ooh. I don't think I've seen any of that.
Don't see none no more. My dad used to do it whenever he was coming up. They would, you know, they'd have a real brown, dark brown, and then that would be a reddish brown.
Well how did he, tell me how he did that. He would take the pot.
Well, he'd just take the pot and have his slip made up and when it got a certain. . .
You remember how he made it up?
. . .a certain stage in it, he'd just dip it in it and that's all there was to it. It set there and dried then with the piece of pottery and ready to go when the kiln went.
So he would dip it into the slip and when the slip dried, then he would put it in the kiln. And was that a wood-firing kiln?
Yeah. Yeah, back then, he never did have no, uh, nothing else but a wood-fired kiln. He died when he's in '43 and we couldn't, that was when the war and everything was still goin' on and you couldn't buy nothin' then. It was wood or nothin'. But it, that weren't too bad. You didn't know nothin' about this other and it don't, didn't hurt you, so. . .
You just did what you knew.
Some, some of the things that we got goin' now will look, look very bad in I'd say, 50 years from now.
What do you mean?
What, it'll be such an improvement till our way of doin' business would look stupid almost. (Laughter)
They'll be calling this the old-timey way.
Yeah. They'll say them old boys back there, didn't, they done it the hard way, didn't they? (Laughter) I like it this way and I liked it back there then. I didn't know nothin' and I run a kick wheel till I was 28 years old. It didn't hurt me. It messed up my hip but I didn't know it. I done part of it in my growin' time and it messed up my hip some. But I didn't, it didn't paralyze me or nothin' like that, but I still walk ugly but I make pots. I can still make a pretty pot. (Laughter)
You sure can. So you, what, when you turned 28, that's when you got your first electric wheel?
Yeah, I was 28 years old and they got electricity down here. It might not have been on my birthday, but I was in my 28th year.
When was your birthday?
It's in September. 23rd
19. . .
1905 when I started this mess. No, when they started this mess.
When they started it. (Laughter)
Yeah, they started it.
Was it, did it take some getting used to?
No, it didn't take you very long to do that.
I bet it was a lot easier.
It's like walking and then somebody come along and let you ride. It's just that much difference. (Laughter)
Did you keep the old kick wheel around?
Yeah, we got one, but I still got the one, I guess, that I made, the metal parts of it. I ain't got the wood parts.
Yeah I have, I got the wood part. We took that and put, put a electric thing on it.
Really? Is it in here?
Yeah. It's that one down there.
The one you've been using?
In the corner.
In the corner? I'll have to take a look at that when I get up.
We might of done some little helpin' it up a little bit. You know, refaced it, or whatever the word is.
Kind of altered it to suit the purpose.
Right. That's right. To make it uh, work with that.
We got a wood-fired kiln out yonder now's been converted into oil and it's almost as old as I am.
Was that one that your dad used?
Yeah. He used that thing for years and years and years. He's the one built it.
Did he? I want to take a picture of it. I brought my camera. He built it?
Yeah. And then we taken it and converted back into oil burning.
When did you do that?
Uh, probably in the early '50s.
That made things a lot easier, too, didn't it?
Oh yeah. Soon as the war was over we got started gettin' our oil-fired things ready and then gettin' furniture, buyin' up furniture that we use in here instead of sagger. That old sagger business was a mess!
Mm--hum. What's a sagger?
It's just another container which you burn the pots in. It's made out of about, they use about 20% sawdust in it so it'll make it light. But that sawdust will burn out, but it don't leave holes in it, it leaves pores, but not holes that anything, you could see through it or anything like that.
When your. . . back to what your dad, doing the Albany slip. When he would put that in the kiln, how long would he have to let it burn before he added the salt?
Oh, that's before he used the salt? He'd have to get it up, it'd take it about 8 hours, 9, it'd take a good 9 hours to get it up to about 22, 2300 degrees and then he'd put the salt to it and that was the end of it then. The firin' quit.
They just quit altogether.
Did they block up the front of the kiln to keep some of the heat in?
Well, yeah, they usually put a door up there that would not let too much wind come through. Then they'd use, most of the time they'd use a damper so that it wouldn't, you know, cool too fast and air crack the pots.
Yeah, you ;couldn't want that.
Right. No, there wouldn't be much money in that.
How could he tell when it got up to 2300 degrees?
Well, we got cones. . .
Did you have cones back then?
Yeah, we had cones. They've been cones for many, many, many years. It weren't but only--after you've been in it for long many years in, you could read the heat yourself. I've did it and didn't use no cones and I wouldn't miss it very many points neither way.
But, it, that's too strenuous. There's no use of doing yourself that way when you got something that'll make it easier.
Make it easier and let it go. I'm a guy that's lazy and not too lazy either, but I like to do things the easy way. If it works. . .
Well, you work hard. I wouldn't say you were lazy.
Well, I don't work too hard. It's, it looks hard. It is hard, would be to somebody that didn't know how.
When you were 14 and learning how to turn, were you also helping your dad to fire a kiln?
Oh yeah. I've fired kilns when I's 10 years old.
Yeah, it don't hurt you.
Would you help load it? What would you do?
Yeah. Right. I'd help load it, too. That was back then, they was groundhog kilns and you'd get about three or four inside the kiln and they'd just pass it to one another. And as the room began to run out, why they'd send somebody out. I's always want to be the last one that went in. You'd get to come out first. (Laughter)
Well, your sister turns.
Yeah. I don't know how old she was when she started. She was about 10 or 11 years old. She was way down there.
Women didn't do much turning back then did they?
She's the first pot maker, woman pot maker that anybody ever knowed of--it was in North Carolina. I don't know any other state now. I'm not saying. . .
I saw some old newspaper articles about how, you know, she was the only woman potter.
Yeah, it was a great life, but, I, the way I did it, like I said a while ago, whenever I wedged clay for him, I would take and, uh, you know, whenever he'd be a'firing the kiln or out doing something else with him, I'd be a'doing my little practice then. But it weren't too hard for me to learn. I loved it and it is a part of me and it weren't too hard to learn. It is for a lot of people, but it wasn't for me.
It is something that sort of gets in you blood, isn't it?
Yeah, I believe it is. I believe that goes for music and any kind of work, I think. I got people, got good, real close friends that works in the textile mills and they, I never heard them say a good word about it in my whole life. I wouldn't work there. I like to work where I'm happy. If I don't make nothing on my board, it's better being happy than. . .
Well, if you spend all your time doing it, you might as well enjoy it.
Right. That's right. That's what I say. I liked it. I loved it and I still do. I hope that I can, long as I'm alive that I can make pots and do like old Waymon wants to do, not--when I get to where I can't do that, I want the good Lord to take me on.
I don't want to be around. I go over to see my friends in the nurses' home and they're happy, but it's pitiful. Makes almost cry when I leave. By the way, they're building a nice one over at, um, Crossroad Baptist Church is building one, nurses' home. They'll go in it September the first, the first patient. It won't be, you know, bed-fast people. It'll be people that can, you know. . .
. . .get around and take care of themselves.
. . .get around and tend to theirselves. But they can have their meals in their room if they want to. They'll have that privilege.
Well, it's nice that they have places like that, because some people don't have any place to go.
It's a beautiful thing, too. The home is beautiful. It's just as pretty as it can be.
I bet it is.
It's gonna be nice for people. I've got a friend that I knowed whenever I was a real young guy, him and his wife both, and they done and signed up and paid their month's rent.
Goodness, they're looking forward to it, aren't they?
Right. They're getting up there and been retired and now they want to live there. I like them. They're just as nice as they can be.
Well, I hope you can keep making pots for a long time.
I do too. I don't never want to quit making pots. But when I do, I hope that's the day that I go. And I've said it and said it a lot of times that I didn't want nobody to weep. Don't want them to cry about me being dead.
You're not gonna be sad about it, are you?
No. (Laughter) I don't want to now, but if, like I said, if I was in bad shape or anything, I don't want to live. I had a brother, he had a, I don't know what was wrong with him. He couldn't, he was helpless and speechless and everything. I guess he had a stroke or something. But, it was a relief when I was, when they told me he had died. It was. And I didn't want him dead. I liked him very much. But I didn't want him in that mess.
No, I wouldn't want to be in that position either.
No, I don't want it.
Did you have a lot of brothers and sisters?
No, I had two brothers and two sisters.
Were any of them potters besides you and Nell?
Just me and Nell's all. They was one a mechanic and the other one a sawmill man. Then my other sister, she was a farmer. She's still living. She's in Bryan's Nursing Home, now.
Up at Asheboro.
Asheboro. Did, where did your dad learn from?
His dad. He's fourth generation; me and Nell's the fifth. Then there's Virginia, she's the sixth. And Mitchell, he's the seventh. That's Virginia's son.
It's nice to see it passed on.
Yeah, I liked it.
Well, when your dad died; you said he died in '43?
Then you took over.
Yeah. Well, we had, me and Nell had been a running it for a right good while before that. He, um, he weren't able to do it. He had a bad heart and he couldn't do no working much and we did it. We didn't have to, you know, convert ourselves into it right straight off.
Yeah. You already had been doing it.
We already had been working in it.
Yeah. Were you still doing just salt glazes?
No, we'd gone into art pottery then.
When did you start that?
At that time we was making lamp bases. That was in the war time. We didn't make nothing but lamps all the time through World War II.
Why was that, do you think?
Well, we didn't have no, nobody didn't have no gasoline and we had to sell it wholesale, all of it then. And this guy in Philadelphia, the name of the company was Dayson Manufacturing People, and they, we made lamps for them and made some art pottery, too. But mostly lamps. You see, you couldn't buy no metal to make lamps out of, and you just make anything into a lamp and it'd sell. They bought it right then. (Laughter) And, they took them. We made the bases and they carried them to Philadelphia and mounted them and sent them out everywhere, all over the whole world.
So you were just wholesaling then.
Yeah, that's all. You never got to see nobody down here unless the sheriff came to get you or something like that. That's all there was to it.
What kind of glazes did you have then?
Well, we had, we done mostly, there's some, no, we didn't never have no commercial glaze. It was just glazes that we, you know, rigged up ourselves, were our own formulas.
What colors were they?
Well, we had blue and gun metal, greens, reds. We had, I thought, a pretty red. We called it a red. It was more of a, well it was a orange-red. We did a lot with that. It would sell now if we could, but it was a low-fired glaze and we don't go for it no more.
Did it have lots of lead in it?
Yeah, it had oxide, I mean lead oxide in it. But we just made lamps and there weren't no danger in that.
No, that's right.
You weren't going to drink out of the lamp.
Hardly. Were all of your glazes low-fire back then?
No, we had some glazes then that would go up, oh around 2000.
What were the low-fire temperatures?
1400. And you were doing this with a wood-burning kiln weren't you?
I understand that the glazes that you get out of a wood-burning kiln are really beautiful and a lot different.
They are. You get so much oxidizing in it, it's more beautifuler than--well, I don't think it's any prettier than what we make now. But you could get different effects than you can in the oil-fired kiln, or electric kiln, either one.
Such as what? Tell me about some of those different effects.
Right. Well, what kind of different effects? It was just entirely a different set up all the way. We can take them glazes now and put them in, um, in our oil-fired kiln and it, they, well, it wouldn't be even nothing. It's got to have a lot of oxide, oxidizing in it or it won't work and wood, you know, it was about half that, I imagine.
I've seen some beautiful things, but I, I like what we do now. We can get any color we want to. I wish that I had money enough to buy, um, smelting furnace for each color. I
could do a lot with that. But, if I had that much money, I guess I would just quit and forget about it.
Retire? Oh, no, you just would make pots.
Just make pots. Well, I'd like to do these things, but, as you go along, your time is limited and there's so much you can do less than what you could when you was 25 to 40 years old, 60 years old--I'll say up to 60 years. It's not been too much change in my way and my legs is the only thing that slows me down right now. I got bad legs and I take it easy on them. But I'm proud of them, too.
They've done you good, haven't they?
You ain't kidding. Yeah, they's the only two legs I've ever had! (Laughter) But I like it and I still get a great kick out of 1iving and making pots and meeting people and, uh, it's just wonderful.
I don't think I could ask for a better life than that-- to enjoy what you're doing and to get to meet people.
Right. I love to meet people and learn their ways and then maybe I can improve mine. (Laughter)
Oh, I don't know that you need improving.
Yeah, I could, I can be improved. (Laughter)
I don't know about that. Back when you were, when you and Nell were making those lamp bases, how many kiln loads would you be doing a week?
How many kilns? We had, uh, we would do one a day.
One a day. Whew!
One a day. We had a whole lot of wood fired kilns. Had a whole lot of help.
Who was helping you?
And we shipped a train carload a week from Star, North Carolina. We put it on a Norfolk and Southern rail train and it would leave this evening and tomorrow morning it would go into, uh, or Thursday--if it was this, if we put it on there on Monday, Monday evening, it would be in Philadelphia Tuesday at 12 or sometime about that. It went to Norfolk and they had boats, they run that car, they never touched it, they'd just run the car on there and then they had a train hooked to it at the other end that went to their siding, at wherever their shipping point was.
Uh-huh. That's a lot of lamp bases.
It was, but we had lots of people working. They would come down so often and change shapes maybe or add some on and we'd make the same ones. They'd give us a list, oh, of no telling how many. It'd be up in the thousands, that they'd give the order.
Mm-hum. That's a lot!
And, Nell made them and I made them and my brother-in- law, two brothers-in-law made them, and, uh.
And Bascome King.
He was my other brother in law. He, he made pots, too. Yeah.
So you had, so four of you were turning.
Four then. Let's see, me and him--yeah, four. Turned out a lot of lamp bases in a day. Got to somebody fire them.
What sizes were they?
Yeah, were they all sizes?
Well, I made some that would be anywhere around 18 inches down to 8, 9, not less than 9 inches I don't think. Nell might of made some that was smaller than that, but not too many. She could make lamps--she can yet.
You're still making lamp bases.
Oh yeah. I make a lot of lamps.
There's some pretty ones in there.
They're getting more popular and more popular. Some lady come in the other day and she wanted two blue lamps. And then before she got out, there was people come in already and two, one was with her and they bought eight lamps. Yeah. They's all blue, blue, blue. We have a lot of people likes blue and we have a lot of people don't care anything at all about it. I've seen people buy a full dinner set with blue.
There's somebody in there today buying a lot.
They didn't have any blue. They had some of that white and some of the sort of brown, the dark, darker color. It was pretty. Well, if you were doing a kiln load a day, that's a lot.
Yeah boy, but we had, they had uh, labor was not nothing, you know. You could hire anybody.
How'd you get paid back then. How were you paying your folks?
Not too much. They weren't, it weren't, I don't think this place ever paid any less than $2.25 an hour. But I talked with some of those boys that maybe would get a job here and they'd tell me what they'd been a'working for at the saw mill. Ten cents an hour, 12 hours a day.
A dollar, one dollar. They didn't give them that 20 cents. It make you almost cry to look at them.
You wonder how they got by.
How would you eat?
I know. I know.
Well, groceries weren't nothing back then either.
Did you have a garden back then?
Yeah, everybody had a garden.
So that helped.
Right. Well, I didn't, um, I drawed a little more money than that. I never.
Well, you were the owner! You and Nell.
No, I didn't own it then.
Oh, that's right. Your dad was still alive, wasn't he?
My dad owned it. That was back you know, after he went on we did it. Yeah, and then drawed a little bit more than I'd been a'drawing.
So the lamp bases--how many years did you do that for
Oh, I don't know. It was all through the war.
All through the war?
Yeah! You wouldn't ever see nobody. If you went anywhere you went to town to get to see them.
How much were the lamps? Did you sell them wholesale?
Well, they was, they weren't too expensive. They'd run dollar and a half to six dollars.
That's not bad.
No! It weren't bad. But you'd get so tired of it. I liked to see something beside the doggone lamp base. And it didn't, it was just--well, that was the only you was gonna be and you didn't do nothing, only get up, as the farmer went to plow, he'd go plow and that's all he had to do. That's the way it was with us. We didn't have to do nothing but go make lamps. If it's the same shape or another shape. (Laughter)
Well, after the war, did you start to wholesale to other companies?
Oh yeah! It didn't take it long after the war, oh no, (Begin Side 2)
. . .They stopped rationing gas, you see, and then people went to traveling. We went to getting people to come in and buy, buy, buy. And then we started to, uh, lamp bases being made out of everything after that. Everybody, there was a big market for it. Plaster and all of that. They would, uh, they went to making them. And then that slowed the lamp business down. If we'd of kept on in it. Then we went back to making the art pottery and cooking ware. Then we went into these people that was in the lamp business, their business was a'falling off, too. There's other competitors, so it wasn't too long till we, weren't dealing with them. Then we'd send it to Miami, or anyplace in the world that there was people we'd send.
Did you send it yourself?
Yeah, a lot of us did. We had a tractor trailer once.
I didn't like it, but it was one, one way of making it. And I liked to make it individual that way, but we had three places that we could send a trailer load, we didn't have to have an order. Anytime we wanted to send a trailer load, we just send it.
Where were they? What places were those?
That was one in Miami and one in Arizona and one in California.
Yeah. We could send a tractor, I mean trailer load anytime that we wanted to, to either one of them places.
What companies were they?
Well, this was um, . . .
Do you remember?
Big gift shop in, in Arizona. Can't even think of the name of it anymore.
Was it in Tucson?
They had a beautiful, beautiful gift shop. I've never seen nothing that pretty.
Really, so you took. . .
He had, when it was made, he had big beams and they was beaded, like old lumber, hundred years back, more than that, and it was beaded, that's what it was made out of.
Oh my. I bet it was beautiful.
And big, thick lumber, then. Well, it weren't too expensive then, but now, if you was to buy one of them beams, you'd go to the bank to get some loan to get it.
That's right. Well, it's hard to find this kind of lumber, right here. This costs now.
Yeah, you can't do that hardly now no more. But that was some kind of pine that he had. It was a beautiful gift shop, but I forgot the name of it.
Do you remember what town?
Then we had--Tucson was that one, but I forgot the name of that other place in California. And then we had one in Miami. That was, it was Greeks.
Did you go with the truck loads sometimes?
Yeah, sometimes I would, just to get away. I liked it. I could, I drove, too. I liked to drive. I was a truck driver, too. I had to do it for this place and there, too. I didn't hurt me. I can 'do anything, back then, that I wanted to. I could still, but I don't want to do it (Laughter).
There's no reason why you should, is there?
No. That there old hard work, I don't like that no more. I like to do it, but I want to do it with a machine or something like that. (Laughter)
And take your time at it, too. Not have to rush.
Yeah, I don't want to be rushed in nothing no more. Well, it don't pay when you're young. You don't do a good job at nothing then if you're pushing yourself.
I got a friend. They pushed him--he's a young friend-through high school. He got through. But they wanted him to make the top grade every time. Top grade. That's not right. It's not, I don't care who you are. No.
That puts too much pressure on a kid.
Now he's a'gonna go to college and they're gonna push him again. He wants to be a doctor, but I bid against, but, he says he's gonna be it. He'll never make.
He'll end up with ulcers or something.
He'll blow up somewhere down the line.
And his mother thinks that he ought to be top A-1, above everybody and I don't think so. I like my child to come along. I raised a boy by a different marriage. And, uh, I never did push him. I told him one day, everybody said, "Are you gonna let him be a truck driver?" That's what he wanted when he was that big, and, heck, what did I want to do? Ruin his life. He ain't got but one.
Let him live it like he wants to. If it's bootlegger, it's all right with me. (Laughter)
Did you all ever make any, any jugs?
Any bootleg jugs? Yeah!
What, for bootleggers?
Good gracious? That's what we made back whenever my dad was making pots and I was a'growing up.
Back in the '20s?
Yeah. They made liquor jugs. I helped him make liquor jugs for weeks and months at a time.
Yeah. Bootleggers'd come get them. Anybody else that wanted, had the money and wanted them, it didn't make no difference.
How much would they hold?
Oh, 2- to 5-gallons most of the time. 'Bout 5-gallon's big as they wanted them. Lot of 2-gallon, lot of gallon size, too. They liked the gallon size jugs.
Did they ever, did your dad ever make any ring jugs?
To carry around, you know. . .
Yeah, on your arm.
On your arm. And somebody said, told me you also, they also used to put them over the hames on a mule.
Yeah. That was what it was that really started that. You know, when they rode, they didn't, you couldn't get off and get a drink of water, you didn't have it like it is, you know, now. You'd be at another station in a few minutes. But, they'd ride a horse and maybe they'd be two or three hours out there and no water. They'd have that and they usually wanted it unglazed so it'd sweat a little outside and keep it cooler.
Really, so they weren't glazed, a lot of them?
No, lots of them they didn't. Not the ones that was gonna ride, they weren't. If they's gonna put whiskey in them, they would glaze them.
Ah-huh. I didn't know that. The only ones I'd ever
seen were glazed.
Yeah. But, that was the start of the whole thing. Then they usually, you know, the fruit jars, they made them, they started that off to can fruit in and then they soon went to the bootlegging and that hurt the jug business and so, (Laughter).
Sort of had to go with the trend of things, didn't you. Just like today.
Well, it still does that.
Well, like you were saying just a few minutes ago that lamps have gotten real popular again, haven't they.
Yeah. And it went there for years and years and I couldn't a'sold a lamp.
What else is selling?
But they can buy metal lamps, any kind of metal that you ever heard tell of, they can buy it now. But they don't like that. "I want me one made out of, down at Cole's or some other pot place."
Well, there's something nice about, something special about a pot.
Right. I don't think I've ever seen over two or three people in my, I'd say less than that, that didn't like pottery. And I've seen one man, one time, he didn't. He was so sour I don't think he liked anything.
But, that, I'm not criticizing him. But he didn't, he didn't like pots, I know that much. He wouldn't even mess around with them.
When you were a little boy, did you all used to play games around the pottery?
Sure, that was, uh, I played games all of my life, when I growed up and even after I got growed I played a lot of ball with the boys around the yard, or where ever we'd get enough together to play. Yeah, we had a lot of games and we had ball, we had, they called it "Round Town" then.
Uh-huh, how'd you play that?
It was 'bout the same thing as baseball far as I could ever see. But I didn't reckon our forefathers ever knowed anything about a baseball, and they just called it "Round Town."
Used it with a bat, get a ball and bat?
Yeah, the same thing, the same rules and everything as baseball.
They called it "Round Town"?
Yep. Whenever I grew up I would have to make your own balls, then, you didn't have nothing. Usually you'd get a bicycle inner tube or something or other and cut it real fine and then twist that thing tight in there. Make a ball, oh, about the size of a golf ball and then you could, uh, the only thing you had, you'd have to go and get an old sock that was wore out about, and then unravel it and you'd wind that on there and make you a ball.
And then would you put anything on the outside?
Sew it together.
Just sew it, and keep sewing it and keep sewing it and keep sewing it. It hurt if you got hit with it!
But, uh, you was pretty particular about letting anybody throw it at you. Anyway, but you could knock that thing. It would really go places. But we didn't, now, they knock it over the fence and maybe the umpire gives them another ball. We knocked our 'un out there, everybody had to go out there and hunt the ball. (Laughter)
Had to halt the game, didn't you, to find the ball.
That, it was all over. Everybody got off the bases and anywhere else they was at, and went to help to hunt the ball. Then there's a hollering a'going again when they found the ball, and we were all back at it. And, there's many, many, many games that they played when I come up. I don't know whether they do it now or not, but it was a lot of it would be "Drop the Handkerchief" or "Tag", you know how they form a ring. They might do it yet, I don't know.
Yeah. I remember doing it when I was a little girl.
Yeah, but I don't believe that I, I don't think they do it anymore.
They probably don't.
We got five little girls lives not far from us and the oldest one is 11 years old. But they don't play games like that.
No, they play dolls and video games.
Yeah, and it's just entirely a different set up.
Did you ever make any toys out of clay?
No, I never did. But I made my own toys. I never had a bought toy in my lifetime. But, the toys that I played with, most of the boys would have give their right arm for it. Me and my brother'd go out there and get, saw down a big gum tree, and then saw us a wheel off of it and then bore a hole in the center of the thing. And we made wooden wheel wagons and all that stuff. And we had a pretty steep hill and we'd make it crooked then you know go around like that a'going down. Everybody wanted to come play with us!
I bet they did! It's a wonder you, didn't break an arm or something going down there.
Yeah, my brother run a'straddle or something one time and there's a nail we didn't clinch it good and it got him right about there and it went about, oh I guess about four inches. Cut it deep. Well, there weren't nobody to sew you up back then. You took a rag and stuck in the hole and it'll quit bleeding in a while. And it wouldn't get, there's a place almost as wide as my fingernail, thumbnail, and it never would get black. He was a mechanic, and he'd be as black as black with grease and stuff, and then that never would get black. It didn't have no pores in it, you see.
It was scar tissue, wasn't it?
Yeah, yeah, it took it. That was the only scar that anybody left out of this world with from our wooden wheeled wagons.
Well, I guess you were pretty lucky if that's the only one.
Yeah, we'd take and didn't have nothing but a hand saw and nails. We'd take and saw them out and then notch that down and take a knife and trim it to make the axle. Sometimes we'd hit a tree and bust it off, and then we'd have to stop and make us the axle. (Laughter) But that weren't much trouble. That was fun, too, doing that.
Did you have chores?
Yeah. I had, uh, my biggest chore was get in the wood, stove wood and fire wood. Didn't care about them very much.
And then we had, uh, raised our own meat. We had hogs, we'd have anywhere, maybe dozen hogs, and they went on then, they put the pens a way, way, where the hogs was way, way away from the house. I done the feeding mostly. And I would, they'd usually get me started about 4:00 and it'd be dark by the time we'd get back.
Bet you were hungry, too.
No, I weren't too hungry. I got out, I took my time, and I maybe had to make two trips, but I done a lot of rock throwing and investigating the grass, and every bug and anything I could run down. (Laughter) It was a wonderful life.
I bet it was.
And I would maybe go 25 or 30 feet and have to set down and rest or I claimed I was resting my arms, and I was playing all the time. It was, I think about that a lot. Lot of people would give anything if they could live a year or two just like that now growing up. I got friends, all they know how to do is look at TV and in the house. They got a yard that's maybe 150 foot wide, 250 deep, and you better not get on the neighbor's yard. She'll be hollering at you or he will, one.
That seems like it's no way to live, is it?
It is no way for me. We live close to Asheboro, now. Well we live up here in this old house part time, but we live up close to Asheboro, but I like to, but we're in the country there. glad I didn't get no more. I might have been a durn fool. It does hurt people, when you overdo it. But, I got enough that I know as much as, I, my English is bad. I got a good friend. He's high educated. He is a high educated dude. (Begin Tape 2, Side 2)
He, he uses everything. He was the highest English, and he's high every kind of education, but he's not, he don't even, like I said, he's just, he can do it. He knows it. And if you want to know anything, he can tell you, in that. And he told me, uh, I told me one time, me and him was setting and talking and I said, "Well." He didn't, hadn't known me very long, and he said, "You know, Waymon, a lot of people knows you." And he said, "You ought of spread a real good example for people like that, that they put all kinds of confidence in you." I said, "Well, I don't do nothing bad." I said, "It's just like it is. I don't have too good a English and you've done found that out. No use in my trying to tell you."
But you don't have trouble saying what you want to say!
Any of them interested in pottery?
No, some of 'em is, but, they can get disinterested right quick when it comes, you know, doing something.
Doing something else, yeah.
Right. Got a little girl, she comes down here and one of the men works here and it's his little girl. She was really gonna learn how to make pots. She come four, five times and now she don't never touch it. She was down here one day, two days this week, or one day anyhow, and didn't muddy her hands at all.
You've got to stick with it, don't you?
When you're learning it.
You have anything, if you do any good at it.
Mm-hum. Where do you get your clay?
Our clay comes from about 20 miles south of Raleigh, between Smithfield and Newton Grove.
Weren't you telling me you've been getting clay out of there. . .
We've been a'getting clay there for more than 40 years. It, uh, is sand and farming land all around it, but, I don't, it's a good clay. It's the best throwing clay I ever worked. It works real good and fires out good and makes a good pot.
Do you have to add anything to it?
Nothing. Only water. We just grind it in the water and that's all we add.
How'd you come to find that pit?
Well, I had a great uncle.
What was his name?
I don't know. I don't know how many years ago it's been. It's been more than a hundred years now. Yet, he done a lot of messing around. He liked to sell pots. He wagoned a whole lot, or they called it that then.
Called it wagon?
Wagoning. Yeah, you know, they'd get their wagon, fill
it full of pots and take off east. That's what he done. He got down there at Four Oaks and he got to talking to them people and stayed down there, you know, several weeks. And, he would, he found this clay down there, and that's how come he started. And he put up a little pottery place there, but it didn't last long. He was a guy that didn't want to stay in one town too long. He wanted to be moving on.
That was at Four Oaks?
Well, if he was your great uncle, that must have been some time in the 1800s?
I don't know what the dates were.
What was his name?
It'd been in the 1800s.
What was his name?
Well, how do you know when you find, if you're out in a field, looking for some clay or something, how do you know?
Well, if you're, like you're interested in clay, you can tell it just quick as you see it.
Yeah. But you don't know how it's gonna work until you test it out. You got to go through that. Looking at it, it may look good and not work good.
We, uh, we've had a lot of clays and I had an uncle, he made pots and, uh. . .
What was his name?
His name was, uh, let's see, I have to, I got too many and it's been so long. Hm.
Maybe it'll come to you.
I'll think of it in a minute. Anyway, he, um, he
would, he was the one looking, he was looking for clay and looking for clay. And he dreamt, in the night he dreamed about this clay, and, uh, he got up the next morning, never said nothing to nobody. He went where he dreamt it was at and he dug down there and he found the best salt glaze clay that I've ever seen or ever heard tell of.
It was, he lived out from Mitchfield.
I know where that is.
Mitchfield was where it was at.
They still getting clay out of it?
No. Made a mess there. Somebody bought it and they got tired of it and didn't want to keep the land no more and they sold it to the Pamona Tile people in Greensboro. And they didn't need that clay a bit more than they needed a hole in their head. It wasn't a tile clay.
But they used it and had to put a lot of other junk with it and it's all been used up.
Well, that's too bad.
It sure was. It should'a been kept, you know, for people to have made salt glaze pottery out of. Frank Cole was that man's name. Frank Cole was my uncle that dreamt that. He, uh, he made pots. He made a lot of pots from it, too.
Coles, there were a lot of Coles, weren't there?
Yeah. Yeah, well all of my brothers, I guess, was pot makers. They was, that's when my uncle died, uh, my granddaddy died in the eastern part of the state. He would go down there and they'd ship it to him. He had a team and he'd haul it out down there and sell it. But I don't know what little town close to it was where he died at. But he was dead about two months before they even knew he was dead.
Yeah. You know, no telephone, no nothing then.
Yeah, I guess so.
And, they sent that man and told him to come get the mule and the wagon. He'd have to pay for the burial and the feed that he fed the mule and the horse, or mule, or
whatever he had. And they went and got 'em and brought 'em home and paid off. Don't guess it was too much then. And, I don't know, the people that knowed about where he was buried at is done dead and gone now and nobody'll never know where his grave was no more.
It was unmarked, wasn't it?
No, it was unmarked.
Well. When did you start making the glazes you have now?
Well, back whenever me and Nell was a'taking it, we bought our glazes from a company in New Brighton,, Pennsylvania and we'd buy our frets and stuff like that, and they would make it and I guess they could still make it and make it as cheap as we do. But, we bought it from them and then they got to be big and selling more and we didn't get much bigger and we didn't buy big amounts, and they couldn't afford to wash out their mills to do ours. I told Nell, "We'd just as well to buy us one and do it ourselves." And that's when we started to doing it. That was back in the '50s, late, early '50s.
Well, is that when you started having your sales shop?
Yeah. We had it a'going then right much, at that time.
In the early '50s?
Oh yeah. That was after the lamp. Then we had, uh, a big display before the war, you know. Even, we sold a lot of pottery then, before the war. I know we went through that depression, but, you know. To tell the truth about it, I never did realize that there ever was a depression. I seen a lot of people that was in it, and we were 1ived in it, but we didn't. Our business was real good. I couldn't say that it was anything.
Really? Well, you were making what kind of pots then?
Well, we was making anything. Cooking ware, pie plates, dinner plates, sugar and creamers, anything that anybody wanted made we'd make it. Didn't make no difference what it was. And then we made a lot of garden pottery.
Back at that time, I didn't get to work at nothing less than 25-60 pounds of clay at a time.
Yeah! But it weren't bad.
Sixty pounds though, that's. . .
Yeah, it weren't bad for me.
You must be really strong.
Yeah, I was, I'm not bragging or anything. I'm still a strong man, to be as old as I am. There're a lot of people even can't even get up, hardly at that age. But I can, I'm still strong.
I can tell, because you're still throwing those, turning those big Rebecca pitchers and lamp bases.
Yeah, and I do a 20-pound jug every day, or a vase or something like that.
Well, what did you make out of 60 pounds back then?
Sixty pounds? Made big large urns. They were, I'll show you in the book down there, there were lots of them that we made.
Okay. I'd like to see that.
That's what we sent--we had trucks then a'going, my dad did. We did a lot, had a wonderful business in Asheville. There's a fella, three mountaineers, they bought, we'd send pots up there about every week. And, they bought a lot of it. They wholesaled it. They'd go to the shows and things like that. And, a fella, Brown, Brown Hardware people, they was wealthy. But, through that depression, there's some that's hit, and hit hard, too. Broke 'em. This Brown' man and another fella come down here and they's gonna start the, they called it the Sunset Mountain Pottery Shop. They wanted to do it. And he come down and he said, "Now I'm gonna ask you this and if you want to do it it's all right and if you don't it's all right with me. It won't make me mad nor I won't think hard of you." He done that and they, uh, he said, "Now you send it up there and I'll give you a note every time you send it." Trailer truck load, and just as soon as we get some money a'coming in, then we'll start taking up these notes. And they did!
Yeah! And they paid every penny of it back. And he got to be big, too. We sold a tremendous lot of pottery to them people.
Well, you must have. . .
They'd go to shows in Chicago and places like that and they got big, too. And we sold for years and years and years to them.
Well, were you selling mostly art pottery to them?
Vases and. . .
Yeah. We would, um, sometimes, most of the time we'd stamp their name on it--what was going to them.
Really? And it was called. . .
Sunset Mountain Pottery.
Sunset Mountain Pottery. But actually you were making it.
Yeah, we made it here in the old flatland. (Laughter)
You all never have stamped your pottery, have you? Coles? Except for recently?
No. Yeah, my dad used to, when he first started. I seen a piece that his post office was Steeds when that was stamped.
Yeah. We've had, uh, one, two, . . .
How did he have it stamped?
. . .three, four. We've had four post offices since I lived here and there were, I mean four addresses, and never moved.
I've had three where I live at in Asheboro, there Route 4, I went back from Route 7. Two weeks ago, yeah, from July first, it was, they put me back on Route 4. They started with me on 4 and then they went to 7 and now I'm back on 4 again. I don't know what'll happen.
What did your dad stamp his pottery? Did he sign it Cole's? J. B. Cole's?
Steeds. Did he have Steeds on the bottom?
Yeah. Steeds on it. Yeah. This guy bought one piece up at Greensboro, that was stamped. And he had a keen eye and he could see it, and they hadn't saw it. And he went in the antique shop there and he seen that piece of pottery and bought it. I believe it cost him 20, 25 dollars.
Oh, my! He got a bargain, didn't he?
Shoot! Boy. He didn't seen that and he didn't do nothing on it.
Well, I wouldn't either if I saw it.
When he paid 'em for it, he said, "Did you know this is stamped?"
Oh, did he tell them then?
Yeah, I believe I'd a went on outs
I would have, too. I'd be afraid that they'd take it back!
I wouldn't want to hurt nobody's feelings, would you?
Well, they couldn't take it back.
It's just like if he'd a went in there and said, "I'm gonna take this piece of pottery."
Don't you know that ruined their whole day, though.
(Laughter) I bet it did. I'll bet you anything they didn't nod none that day!
Yeah, I made his dad one of them big jugs, and put my name on it. He wanted it. I bet he come down here 40 times to see if I had that made. I said, "I've got it made, I'll get it to you." I said, "I ain't got the color, and I ain't running them right now, but we'll get it." One day he come, I told them when we got it out, "You tell that man to come get that jug. I'm afraid something will happen to it."
(Laughter) You wouldn't have wanted to go through it all again, would you, with him?(End Tape)
|Transcript of Interview of Waymon Cole|
|Interviewer:||Michelle A. Francis|
|Date of Interview:||August 6, 1983|
One of the things I wanted to ask you was about that old house up there. Is that where your daddy lived?
Yeah. That was where I was borned and raised at.
Did your daddy build that house?
Yeah. He, they lived in an old log house just a' opposite from there, oh, 100 feet in, 'bout another 100, just a bit away from it.
Is it still there?
And they built half of it, 'bout half of that house was, he built that and then they built to the other end of it, and that's where he raised all of his young 'uns and where we lived, uh, till all, everybody got married and left and we've all grown. And then he built this part coming out here, kind of in a T, to it, and he needed that like, they needed that like I need a hole in the head. And that's the way it is with 'em. But they lived there for years and years and years in that, too, with the dog. They had a. . .
When they built that part it must have made it a really big house.
It is a tremendous big house. Good gracious. You can put junk in that thing! It's got it in it, but you can put lots more. (Laughter) It was that old ceiled, I think the thinnest ceiling lumber I ever seen. I don't believe, it might be, I guess they split a plank, a inch plank, and made, uh, but it's less than a half a inch.
But it's got beads on it. Back then, everybody thought they had to have a little bead on that thing all the way down. But it's thin and it was cheap, but they, uh, they thought that was all right. I can't throw a cat out through it and, it was, it's hard house to heat.
I bet it is.
Yeah, you see with that no more than that, there's no heat can stay down there.
Mm-mum. You got a wood heater in it?
No, we got oil now. But we will, we was raised with a fire place. Well, in fact, some of my life, they cooked on the fire place. They didn't have no wood stove.
And then they got a wood stove.
I guess your mama felt like she was really coming up in the world!
She was really one of them high class ones, really. But she knew where to push that pot and it'd set there and just peck away on that stove and just throw in a little wood and it'd just barely boil and that's what she wanted to make good food.
Especially make good soup; simmer a pot of soup.
Yeah. She cooked good. She weren't no fancy biscuit maker. They's big but they was good and you didn't have to reach many times. That was all. (Laughter) But it was cornbread, she liked to make cornbread. That was good. But she liked to have a pie every day. She cooked a pie every day.
That was good.
Yep. She liked, she was really crazy about pies. Course I like it, but I weren't, you know, crazy over it bad. I can take a piece of corn bread and old cow butter and put on there and I've got it made. Nobody's got it better.
Yeah. Add a little molasses or honey to it.
Oh, molasses, that might be [unintelligible]. But I like to put that milk in a bowl, I mean corn bread in a bowl, and pour some milk over it and get me a spoon and. .
That's good, too, isn't it?
Yes, it was good! (Laughter) A lot of people might
snarl up their nose, but they ain't never tasted it. That would be it, wouldn't it?
That would be it. It sure would.
Yeah. I got a little boy friend, well, he's a grown man now, but he was a little boy then. He'd come to our house and stay some. I'm bad about taking a piece of loaf bread and if I got a glass of milk, and I bend that thing and just dunk it and stick it down in there and eat it like that. He went home and told him mama, said, "That's the way he eats. I never seen nobody do that, did you?" She said, "No, I haven't." And she said, 'bout a week, it weren't a week, he was doing it every day. The same thing.
He said, "You know, it's good!" He said, "That old man's not crazy." (Laughter) I really like it and I like, uh, salads and stuff like that.
Me, too. Especially this time of year.
Yeah. And then in the wintertime, we had, we growed, uh, had fields then, didn't have pastures then, but we have them now on this place. But I go over to, I'd go over to somebody's farm and get some "creasy greens." Or watercress, either one.
I've heard of watercress, but I've never had it before.
You never have? You sure have missed it. You weren't raised in the country.
Well, they've got it in town. It's nice to make, you know, salad with. You put some, I'll see a, used to see a lady in Asheboro when I go in of, maybe on the weekends, Saturday evenings or something about it, I'd see her buying that stuff. I asked her one time did she like it. She said, "Yes I do, in salads." And she bought that and, you know, put it on her list.
Well, I'll have to look for it in the grocery store and try me some.
You can't do it, only in the spring.
That's the only time.
We have a farmers' market.
Oh yeah, I bet you, oh yeah, I know, yeah, that farmers' market, they'd have it. It's, uh, you do it just like you do turnip salad, or mustard, or something like that. You can use it raw or boil it. I like to take a piece of old side meat and put it in pot and boil it and make it like that. My wife likes to fry it in grease. It don't, it ain't, I'm, I'm a little further back in, in the old timey business and she. . .
That's a little greasy for me.
But I really love it like that.
I think I'll have to try some.
And I like good cabbage, but a lot of people don't know how to cook it.
Well, I don't know how you like your cabbage, but I don't like mine real mushy.
That just ruins it, don't it?
I like it just steamed just a little bit, a little water.
Have you got a microwave?
See, if you ever get one, try it in that. That's the best cabbage there is.
Yeah! You don't use but about two spoonfuls in a bowl that big--of water.
And it cooks it good?
Yeah. Your book will tell you how many minutes. It ain't but about, I don't believe it's but four minutes.
I'll have to try that, if I ever get a microwave.
Yeah, it sure is good. And they're the best to cook bacon or anything like that. Have you ever eaten any that's been baked in there?
That's good. It's dry.
Mm-hum. I don't like it when it's all mushy.
No, I don't want it and I don't like it soaked in grease, either.
It's good. Will you have to set these cups on stilts, too?
Stilts. Every one. Everything goes on stilts, I don't care how small or how large. Well, if it's too large, we use, uh, little bats to put them on, you know. Little boards of about a inch and a half, you know, might be not round, but, however it grows, about a inch or inch and a half. Put about three under a great big vase, then you can smooth it off with emery powder, and it's just fine.
One of the things that when I was listening to our tape from the other week, you were talking about the saggers.
Saggers. And I didn't understand, I don't think I understand what they were.
Well, they was containers that we put the pottery in. We fired it in a wood kiln and it was a down draft and those ashes would go up and then come down in there and that would ruin the pots. And then, if you fired with coal, like we never did fire with coal, but I have a friend that did. He would take that and then he'd, around that he'd put his pot in the sagger, pack it as tight as he could, you know, how much ever he could get in it I should have said. But, he put that in there and then he'd have a little bit of a wadding, something 'bout like my finger, of clay that he run out of his brick in the yard on the pug mill, I should have said that--pug mill, and then he put that right around there and set that down on it and that almost made it air tight and that sulfur wouldn't mess up. And the glaze, it was better for the wood-fired kilns, too. It wouldn't get none of that stuff in it.
Well, the sagger then, was made out of what?
It was made out of clay.
It was made out of clay. Was it just like bisque?
Yeah. Only it was about, we used, mostly it was made out of fire, brick-fired clay. And we'd use about 25% sawdust mixed in it and that would make it lighter and then porous so it would heat through.
And you would just stick a pot down into the sagger.
Yeah. We'd put it down there. It was just like a straight up pot. I think most of 'em was about 8 inches in height. And then we had some that they would make caps for
'em, you know. And they'd turn that over them and then put another one on top of that and go to the top of the kiln, just like that.
I see. Did you have to put anything in, pack anything around the pot?
And usually you just had like one pot in a sagger.
No, we'd have as many little pots in there as we could get around it. If it was, you know, where you could put more than one, I've seen it just one barely would go in, you know.
Was this just with salt glaze?
No, it was any there, any art glaze, or anything that we had.
Did you use it with salt glaze? WC; No. You wouldn't want to use it with salt glaze.
No, 'cause you want that smoke and things, don't you?
Yeah, you want--that you can fire in an open fire, you know, and the wood ash is not there. It's too hot! It burns up everything in there. There's no ash to it.
What would happen if you had a piece of glazed pottery in there, without, and it wasn't in a sagger?
It would get that ashes on top of it and it would spoil it then. It would be different, you know.
Would it turn it dark?
Messy. I'll put it like that.
Okay. It would ruin the glaze.
Yeah. It wouldn't be pretty and smooth like you would to have it in a sagger. And I've took Albany slip and get me something like a crock or something like that, and dipped that piece in Albany slip and put it in a salt glaze kiln. But I'd put it under that pot and then pile those little white vents up so it'd almost be air tight under it. And it would come out, it would come out just about like a mirror. You could see yourself in it. It was so black, till it would, you could just about shave by it.
You'd put on your lipstick or anything like that! (Laughter) Right. Never seen nothing like it. Oh, there's a million things back there that can be done with it, but nobody has time no more and they don't go back that far. They say, "Well, it's too expensive. You can't sell it for that." It ain't that. I like to make it. And if I don't make no big amount of it, no production, it's pretty. And most of the people appreciate it and pay, pay enough that you can get by with it.
I would pay more for something like that.
Sure I would!. I don't care. It would just bend over backwards to get it.
Mm-hum. I would, too! When you gonna do one? (Laughter)
Well, like I said, they don't give me no time no more.
No, they sure don't
I work in here and then I fire the kiln, then I go down and make pots, and then if anything breaks down maybe it'll take me a whole half a day or day and a half to fix it. And, his time's took up before I get there. But I learn to do something good, where everybody ought to. I wish the presidents would do it, and the congressmen and the senators and the sheriff man. Is to take my time and do it right and you don't have to do it the second time.
That's right. And it's nothing, you know, it can't be that important that you can't wait to get it done.
It, it's no, no use to say it. I don't care how nervous they get, it's no use of it. It's just absolutely no use.
Yeah, we had it, we had our country running that way, but you don't do it. I had a operation in Boston in '65 and my wife come up there. She's, she's the nervous type, too. But, she's not that nervous as they was. But they come up there and them men, they never did speak nice to each other. They'd snap you and then, "Get in there," or "Get out of there." Something like that all the time. It was never nice. She asked me when she come up that first time, "What's the matter with people up here?" And I said, "Aw, you're in the North." And, that, they're just different types than we are in the South. In the South, you know, it's got that name. But I like just to stumble along and pass the time of day. It's not nothing, I'm not gonna live no longer and it ain't gonna kill--it'll make me live happier while I'm a'living.
That's right. That's right. There's no sense in hurrying about it. Not at all.
No. And then when the end comes, why, you've had a good life. You 1ived it, you loved it, and, um, I, I just like it, I like that kind of doing better than anything.
I have to agree with you. I think it's best.
It, uh, like you said, there's nothing that important but what it can wait.
That's right. Sure.
I like to make pots. And when we have them down here and they're a lot, we have those people come by, and every one we love them, every one of them, but they're a nervous type and they want it that minute or that second and why cain't I and why don't you have it tomorrow. Well, our kiln ain't gonna be done for tomorrow, and will be, maybe Friday, Saturday, Monday or Tuesday. And if you come back then, and get it.
They don't realize, too, that it takes almost a month from the, from start to finish.
Right. It'll take a whole month to get one through up here. But there's some a'coming along all the time. But, it takes a whole month. I, if there's somebody, or I always made it that way, if he's gonna work on my car or gonna do something for me, and he told me he would do it, uh, Monday or a month from now, all right. That suits me fine. We'll depend on this. And then maybe he takes on 'bout half a dozen more jobs and then come and try to mess mine up to get through quick, I don't like that! No I don't. I just ain't in for it.
That's right. And I'd rather somebody tell me they can't do it. . .
Just don't fool with me, just you get on out of the way and let me alone. I'll blow through it and I won't be mad and I love them just the same.
. . .than string you along. Yeah. I know. I know.
I like it like that.
Well, back when you all were making lamps you had people saying, "Do it fast, do it fast."
Oh yeah. They wanted 50, or 50 dozen maybe or 500 in, and we want them in, uh, by the 15th. And it was maybe the 5th then. (Laughter)
Those were electric lamps, weren't they?
Yeah. All of them was. We just made the base of them was all we did. They put the, done the electric work.
Did you ever have trouble getting people to pay you? When you were doing wholesale, a lot of wholesale work?
No. We never did get beat too many times. I wouldn't say a dozen times. That would take you throughout our life, a dozen times.
Yeah. That's a pretty good record.
I got, I had a man, I didn't, my dad had done business with him and me and Nell was working, you know, then. He come and he wanted, oh it's 1000 and 2 dollars worth of stuff. And he give us a check and it bounced. And I knew I didn't have no way of collecting it then. Well, it weren't nothing to do. I didn't, didn't move my head on it. You just, if you lost you lost and if you get it you get it. And, he, uh, he was gonna, he wanted some more stuff and he come back and he wanted that and I was pretty sharp with him. I said, "Well, I got a bad check on you." "Oh, I'll make that good right now." That man, he just paid me off right then, and made it good. "Well, now, I'll let you know when this is ready." I never did tell him I was gonna do it.
Mm-hum. That was good.
I used the word "ready".
"Ready". You didn't want to get burned twice.
It never got ready! (Laughter) But I got out, saved my skin.
Yeah. He was gonna assure me. It was gonna be a bigger amount than what he had given. And I knowed I was getting beat then.
Yeah. We dealt with people, you know, like that. And it was, it was, wonderful. There're lots of nice good people now, but there a lot of people that is not, they want to get by like that. I don't think they want to beat you, they just like to get by and not do it.
Mm-hum. You have to be more careful, I think.
About things like that now.
You sure do. Well, it was pretty tricky back through our days, too, if you didn't, like I said, watch what you's doing. I like to, I, we paid cash for everything we did. Soon as the invoice comes, we give it, or if we, uh, send our trucks to pick it up, maybe a whole bunch of stuff at one place, we just send a check. We call them and tell them to give us the amount and they'll send the check with the driver and everybody's happy that way. And they know whenever they ship it and we get the invoice, the check goes right back right then.
That's the best way to do it.
It don't, no bookkeeping, I ain't got nothing against credit. It's good.
Well, I guess sometimes you have to buy big things on credit.
Well, we don't do it. We won't buy it if we ain't got the money to back it.
That's just my good way of living.
I guess it is, especially in this credit card age.
Yeah, I got people that I know of, I got a friend that he bought, I believe it was two or three new cars for three or four years right in a bunch, every year. He said it paid. I asked him for who. I knew it paid the dealer.
Paying the bank, all that interest.
Yeah, and the bank. And he said, "Well, I get, get the cheaper rate of interest." Yeah, but his interest is the same.
Makes no difference what it is.
Well, I tell you the way it is with me. If I owe anybody anything, I don't want them to worry one second about it. I'll do it, if there's any worrying to be done.
Mm-hum. I don't like to owe money either.
I ain't going to. I'm not going to. I'll do without. It don't hurt me, it don't hurt me to do without.
It bothers me.
No, I won't go down the road being bitter against you or nobody else because they got it. It's all right with me. I didn't get it, I ain't got it. And I'll get whatever I can. That makes me happy.
Mm-hum. That's a good way to be.
Yet a lot of people is bitter about, they think maybe somebody has got, you know, he's done saved up his money and done pretty good and got up there where he's not, not lean no more and they're bitter at him. I ain't. Happy you did it. I'd had sense enough, I maybe'd been up there. (Laughter) I don't know whether I've told you this before or not, but I will tell you again. I met a professor about a month ago. Nice guy to talk to. He's about ready to retire. Me and him was talking, just got talking, you know. Bringing on, the subject got on something like what we said, and he said that whenever he leaves college, he was a teacher, he taught. He said, "Well I finished college and I went and I learned right straight that it was gonna take me more time to make my money than it was to spend it." (Laughter)
Isn't that the truth!
He said, "I learned to enjoy making it and I learned to enjoy spending it." He said it didn't, I didn't get, he said, "I got just as much enjoyment out of making it as I did spending it." Said, "I didn't even know what I was gonna get, but I could go and buy whatever I thought I wanted and needed, and could afford."
Well, you knew what he was talking about, didn't you?
He did. He had, he had sense in him. It weren't no, no nothing about it. No back talk, no messing about it. It was the real thing.
Well, that's sort of what we talked, you and I talked about. About how if you're gonna be working all the time, you need to be doing something you enjoy.
Right. If you don't, you're just plum unwise.
Unwise for not doing what you like. For every time the clock ticks, we're getting closer on our way out. But, I don't worry. It don't worry me. I love to live it, and then when it comes time to go, I want to go happily, too.
INT : Mm-hum.
That's right. I don't want to die sad and mad, I want, if it, when it comes time for me to die, I hope I go to sleep and that's it.
Yep. Me, too.
And, no use of whenever anyone dies, you hate to give up your loved ones. I hate, I've seen people who grieve and make theirselves plum sick over it and, that's, that's wrong. I think that the Bible says to, to mourn as they come in and rejoice as they go out! We do it the opposite of that! (Laughter)
Oh me. We do don't we?
I think that's the old devil working in us then, don't you?
Yeah. Do you think your dad enjoyed pottery as much as you?
Oh yeah. He enjoyed pots. He loved 'em. He really did. He liked to make pots. He was a good pot thrower, too. He could do it, he weren't as good, uh, getting down to half a pound and such as that. He had a terrible big hand and, he, uh, he did larger pieces, he was good at it. He could take and, he was a strong man, too. He had a strong body. And he had a bad heart and it clicked out with him. But, his body was good, and he died, what you'd almost call a young person now, at 74 years old. He'd just become 74 years old.
That was in 1943, didn't you tell me?
He died, uh, the 16th, no the 23rd and his birthday was the 2nd.
Mm-hum. Did he like to tell stories about people he knew?
Oh, he liked to tell them. He liked to tell, oh, about wagons, you know, back, that's what we call, there's no cars then.
And he didn't know how to drive a car. He, he always had good trucks but he never could drive them. But anyway, he'd tell about being back in the East, then, you know. He'd go down South or East, and it was scary and a mess in there then, in his days. They weren't nothing on just a wagon road, and there was just swamp everywhere you went. You couldn't, they couldn't drain them. They had no bulldozers. They couldn't get out there. It'd grow back as fast they'd cut it down.
And they was bears and lots of things back then.
Snakes, too, I bet.
Lot of game of any kind. Back in his day and the first part of my days, I didn't know no bears or nothing, but the game was, it was plentiful. Anything that you wanted to go out and hunt. I wasn't no hunter. He liked the wild rabbits good. I had a pretty good dog and it would run of a morning. I'd let it run till, you know, 'bout all it wanted and then I'd get out there and shoot him a rabbit and eat them when the seasons was for it.
For it. Yeah.
And he liked that.
Would your dad be gone a long time? Take the wagon out?
Yeah. Yeah, but it weren't in my days. It would be before, before my days.
Before you were born?
Did you know your granddad?
No, didn't never know neither one of my granddaddies. They died before I [unintelligible]. . .
You were telling me your granddad Cole died down East somewhere.
He died in, somewhere in, I don't know.
Was it New Hanover County? Do you remember what county?
I don't, don't remember what county it was. If you're
up passing Seagrove Pottery, you ask Dorothy what county it was where he died. She'll know. (Tape stops, then starts)
What caused this pot to turn dark, so dark?
Uh, 'cause it didn't get quite, quite as hot there. It was sort of smothered when I piled them on each other.
That's gonna make some bird a nice home!
It sure is. There was a guy here one day this week. He was from San Antonio , Texas. I was making little bird houses that day. He said, "I bought one of them from you and I'm taking it back to Texas." I said, "What kind of birds do you have down there?" He said, "We have little wrens like you do here. That's why I bought a wren house."
I've got one and it's a little bit taller. I like that one.
A bigger door for them.
Yeah, a bluebird will probably go in that one.
Yeah. Well, it, uh, that was made, the one you got is for a bluebird. About that size. But we ain't got too many bluebirds no more. (Begin Tape 1, Side 2)
When you all did a salt glaze, you never stacked the pots, did you?
No, you can't stack the. . .
It's not tall enough is it?
Yeah. But, it won't, uh, it will have 'em stick where the the other one sets against it, or on top of it, or however you want to put it. It will stick.
It will stick together. I was reading somewhere where, like out in Missouri where they were making pots.
In the 1880s and 1890s and they were making salt glaze in huge kilns that were, had two fire boxes, and they were glazing on the inside and the outside, but not on the bottoms and not on the rims. And then they would stack 'em and fire 'em that way. They never did that around here, though did they?
Yeah. That was that slipware.
Yep. They'd rub that off and it didn't, it was enough on there that it wasn't, you know, rough like that pot there, but it weren't no glaze on it neither. It was just a stain, I guess is what made it. And, that's the way they did their pickle jars and all of the jugs.
So your dad did that, too, then?
Yeah. Right. Used to years and years before my time, and, well, I've seen it in my time, but I weren't, I mean, I weren't old, big enough to pot. But, I've seen it being done. And, you know them jugs in there, oh, brown and white bottom or white topped and brown bottomed, whichever way it was, you know. They had a square place like that?
You know, a jug and then they'd go right in. This here has always been rough here. That's what that was, they stacked it.
That's where they stacked it. Oh!
Yeah. That's what that was for. Big people think they made it for, you know, to make 'em pretty. Well, it didn't hurt the looks of 'em none. But, it was, uh, that's what that was. It was done that way so they could stack 'em in the kiln. Now, them real old timey, I mean real old ones, they make some, but they're not like them old ones. They, they're expensive. There's no [unintelligible] you could try to buy one. And, I put this, part of this road that comes by the house up here. It used to come nearer the door than it does now, and I had it like this, pushed up. But they, there when it went on and went over to a station, a railroad station, had a post office and two or three stores there, just country stores.
It was Asbury. Asbury was the first post office in my life, and then they went to Steeds, and then they went to Ether, and then they went back, I'm in, in Seagrove now here, down here.
Well, in fact where I live at I've had three different routes, twice, I mean three times since I've been living there. I've been living there 'bout ten years.
They can't make up their minds, can they?
Well, they bust up the route, and then when we get more people, more populated, then they have to put on another one and that creates another route. I don't like it. But there ain't nothing I can do about it. Only change my number on everything I got and let it go. (Laughter) But, talk about that Asbury, that was, there was, when they were out of this real young boy, there weren't no time I don't, hardly no time, that you could look out of our house but what there's a wagon or buggy or something a'going along. They hauled a lot of lumber and ties and stuff like that. Or go over there to pick up their freight. And, it would be, you'd see somebody going along that road all the time. I'd get out there and I'd be a'standing there like I was, oh, I wouldn't be nothing at all. (Laughter) He'd come along and he'd a'been comfortable and he'd be setting up there about half asleep. And I'd swing on that [unintelligible] and ride down and fool around in the bushes or in the branch or somewhere and it wouldn't be but a little bit I'd get a ride back to the house. Nobody knew whether you was along. (Laughter) They didn't care neither.
You had fun as a kid, didn't you?
Yeah. I grew up like I am now. I feel different, I feel the same things. My wife says I never growed up. I don't want to.
No, I don't think you should. Don't think you should.
But anyway, they would go over there, them people would, at Christmas time. It would be, they'd go over there to that station and you could order liquor then and the liquor stores around here weren't no good. You could order from Richmond. That was the big place to buy government liquor. And you'd see 'em pass and, uh, maybe one or two 5- gallon jugs setting in there full of liquor. For their Christmas. Yeah. I had a uncle, he loved that stuff. He really did. You'd see him passing along. [unintelligible] He didn't, if he got drunk he didn't bother nobody.
Just went off by himself, huh?
Yeah. He'd just get drunk. Act crazy and that's all until he got sober and went back to work. He was working night and day whenever he got sober. Didn't want to do anything when he was on a drunk. That messes up the deal, don't it?
Well, if you want to take a drink, it's all right with me. I got nothing [unintelligible].
Well, I'm not of a drinker myself.
And uh, if you want to take a beer, it's all right. I don't mind taking one, a beer, but I'd use it as a beverage you eat. And I 1ike it that way. It's not, and then if you come in real tired and eat you a sandwich and drink you a can of beer, it will relax you.
Yep. Help you unwind.
I don't want to get in there and get "high" and hollaring and throwin' my wife out and all the young un's and knockin' the mirrors off of the. . . (Laughter)
That's great. But, then they'll shoot at each other. Man, I don't care for that.
That's the way it was back in them times. My daddy, he liked that. He, he liked the alcohol, but he wasn't any bad man or nothing like that. He never meant to.
Did he like to drink moonshine?
Yeah! That stuff, I cain't take that.
That's pretty strong stuff.
That there! I, uh, if I was gonna drink anything, well, I wouldn't drink, to start with, nothing heavy. Like I say, I take a social drink, but it would be, you know, some mild whiskey. Now, I tell you what is pretty nice. I had a black person work with me one time and she, we was talking about this, and there was one of them, oh, there was three or four of them working for me, and I had a cold like nobody's business. And she said, "Why don't you take a drink, maybe that'll help." Well, I done any--took a little of anything, then, you know. So I had some applejack. That was nice. I liked that. I taken a snort of that and wasn't no big amount, maybe that deep in a cup, and a paper cup, no big mug like that. Anyway, I come by and she said, "That sure, that wine sure does smell good." And I said, "You want some?" She said, "Yeah!" I poured her out some in a mug. She was gettin' to where she was talkin' pretty loud. (Laughter) Her old man worked here. He said, "Kelly, do you know what you've been drinkin'?" Her name was Kelly. "Wine." "Wine, Hell, that's a hundred proof!" (Laughter) I thought I'd die! "Golly, I never did drink none before.
You got me a'drinking!" I said, "I never done that, you asked me to let you have a little drink. I never asked you nothin'." Whew! Well, it's wonderful, to you know, go along through life. (Tape stops, then starts)
You were telling me that, you know, your dad made salt glaze, Albany slip.
Did he ever make a glaze that was sort of a, a yellow or gold color?
Yeah. If you add sulfur to Albany slip, it, uh,.
Comes out sort of golden?
Yeah. Almost a, a rust color. I've seen 'em come out and they'd be just as pretty as, I'd call, it was the nearest to rust of anything I could think.
Where did he get his Albany slip?
He ordered it from some place in Albany, New York. These guys, if it was, if it was sent, it'd have to come to a station, you know, where, like Seagrove or Star, where they had a agent. They didn't have one in Asbury.
They just had a station?
That, uh, conductor or the guy that is the manager of the train behind. He would, uh, he knew all of them old boys like that. He'd bring it and let 'em put it off the back. It'd save three or four miles driving.
Yeah! In a horse and wagon, that added up.
Yeah. You didn't go up there in 15 minutes and back, it took about half a day. He was nice, they was nice people. People was nice to each other then.
Looks like there's still a little spot there you missed on the side, outside.
Come up, come around a little more. Right. . .
Yeah. You got it.
This was, the, um, I had some cousins, they're a
hundred years old when they died, and they would, um, back then, you'd have to, uh, get on at a flag station. These, them old, uh, that old, uh, conductor, he told them that "Anytime you all want to town (that's go up to Asbury), just get out there and flag us down. We'll stop at the house." They'd stop there [unintelligible].
Well, that's a nice thing to do, wasn't it?
It was, yeah: And they'd get on a ride to Asbury and he'd stop and put 'em off at the same place. He didn't care. But you wouldn't get that now. They'd cut you out. Bus people, I don't know, they wouldn't even stop out on the road now, would they?
I know. Uh-uh. Sure wouldn't. Who built your first electric wheel?
We built 'em all ourselves.
Did you have anything to go by?
Naw. Just what you thought you needed. No, we didn't have no instructions. The first electric wheel I ever got I had to have two belts on it, and I had to step down through it. That's all I had. I couldn't get nothing else. Then we got to where we could buy those spit [unintelligible], and we could run 'em, uh, from almost zero up to 350. That's what we use now.
We've had them years and years. I don't know you could even buy them now or not. You can buy a motor, fed from a switch, but I like, it cuts down the power when you're doing that.
I had a man one time, he was a friend, he, uh, was a good guy. He could make anything he wanted with wood, or iron, or anything. He's goin' to make a wheel. He come down there one time and said he had one that old Waymon couldn't stop. He brought it in there and they set it down, three or four of them tried it, and said, "George you'll never spin that one." And I throwed about a 20-pounder on there and I choked that thing down. First thing, he-got so disgusted, he just went out. He never said nothin'. He left.
(Laughter) Showed him, didn't ya?
I wasn't trying to show him nothing. I just wanted to show him that I could stop. [unintelligible] I weighed about 140-50 pounds then. No less than that. He, uh, weren't for me. He was about a 225'er. He liked to pick at me. And I liked to pick at him. I like to pick at anybody that can take it. If you can't take and you're gonna get mad, to heck with you. Forget it.
That's right. They can go home.
They can go home and not even bother me. Anyway, this old guy, he was always kind of standing around back there, he worked here, and maybe we'd be just standing at the door or somewhere or another, and I could always tell about what he had on his mind by just looking at him. And, he was standing there, decided he didn't want to let me in, wouldn't be a'working or nothing like that. He decided he didn't want to let me in. [unintelligible] Pretty hard which one was gonna go in.
That's right. And he's the bigger one.
And he was big. But I was strong and active. If you got that, I was 1imp as a dishrag and, whew, he gets out of wind, and I'd handle him good. (Laughter) But I see him once in a while now. "Well, had some fun, didn't we?" "Oh, yeah." "Think you can handle me now?" He said, "I don't think either one's got it."
You could both hold the door open for each other, couldn't you? I never will forget it. It was fun, all right. [unintelligible].
Yeah, that's right.
But it was the growing up and the getting old.
Aren't you gonna do these?
No, I'm gonna set 'em somewhere else. (Tape stops, then starts)
I understand, I talked, one of the first people I talked to when I was starting this job, was Harwood Graves. And I understand that he's just one of those kind of people can make just about anything.
He was the guy that made that wheel that I was talking about!
Well, that's why I asked you about that. 'Cause I knew that Mr. Graves had made wheels, and I didn't know if he'd made yours or not.
He made that one.
The one that I spun with it and he couldn't take. (Laughter)
He's a pretty smart man, isn't he?
He's an extra smart man. He's got cancer.
It messes him up. I hate to see it. And he, he can just about do anything he wants to.
He made a lot of pottery himself, didn't he?
Well, he, uh, he did it with a mold, a press, and pressed it, you know. He made logs and all kinds of things. He could a'been a'doing good, but he didn't. He was a guy that, he likes it that way, but he likes to do something a little bit different after a bit.
That's the only thing that I ever found that Harwood was, he liked to build something better and bigger than anybody, but then, "Forget it and throw it away, I don't care for it."
Yeah. Did he make something that, I'm trying to think now what it was. It's something that you built, you built the pot around it and then it collapsed and you pulled it out through the top. What am I thinking of?
He built a mold that was made out of slab.
And, we had 'em here for years and years, but, shoot, I didn't want 'em. Put 'em away. And it got, had, didn't have room, they built that thing, it was as high as my head.
It was for a big pot, wasn't it?
It was a pot. I've seen 'em build pots, they had to tear the door out to fire one.
Yeah, to get it in the door.
To get it in?
In the door. And, it was terrible. But he liked it. And my daddy didn't back him up, and that's the way it goes.
Who did he, who was it for?
Who'd, who'd he make it for?
He made it for my daddy.
I mean, did your daddy sell it to somebody in particular, or was it just. . .
Oh, we sold one or two of them. They weren't nothing nobody couldn't have them. It would take four good men to carry it. You wouldn't want a pot sittin' around like that!
I wonder if any of them survived.
I doubt it. There's some went to Miami. I don't know whether they did. I doubt it. You know the new generation come in and they kicked that out. "I want something made out of brass or something." Not knowing they had somethin' who much more of. . . But he is good.
Did he make anything else that you all use around the pottery?
Well, he was all the time working on the wheel. He worked, he made that wheel where, um, where Virginia works on now. He'd come by and leave models that [unintelligible]. I had a, out there [unintelligible] broke a little of the bowls on it. Had to paste and cut the thing out to get it out, been in there so many years. He, uh, hadn't been out of the hospital for a good year, with a heart ailment then. And he, I told that boy to go over there and just ask him. Now I told him that we don't want him to do it, we just want him. He found out we had something pretty important, and he didn't want to tell nobody how it was. "I just go, I want to go over there, I'll show you." He didn't do nothing but just bent down, crawl up and went up into the filter, where the filter press was. Said, "Okay, I got to go back home. "Went back home, came back over there and it weren't but a few minutes he drilled it out and fixed it, and walked on out.
He's handy that way, isn't he.
Yeah, but he just wanted to do it. I was glad that he, that I, I didn't fuss at him.
But if he'd just a'showed them what to have done, they would have done it. And he didn't want to do it.
Well, I can understand that.
Yeah. I do too. If you, uh, whatever your job you do, you don't want somebody else [unintelligible].
But, he went to work. He worked here for a long time doing them logs. He didn't like it, but he could sell every one he made. Working for hisself. General Electric leading the man. And he was good friends of one of the men working there. "Yeah, doubt him but you can't beat him." He can do anything that he wants to do. He is a brother-in-law to my sister.
Phil Graves is his brother, right?
She asked him if he wanted to go and talk to him. He said, "Yeah, I believe I would." He went up there and they put him on the job. I guess [unintelligible].
Really. He stayed with them a long time, didn't he?
Oh, yeah. He retired from there. He said he'd build whatever they want. They'd tell him it don't make no difference how long it takes or how much expense, we want it perfect. So he'd built it where it was foolproof, nothing, it was just perfect. And then they'd come by and when he got done he'd show them and tell them how it was. And they'd come by and say, "Now I want you to cut maybe, cain't we cut a dime off of something here and a penny or two over there?" And then when he got done cutting it off, it looked just like the rest of their stuff, not worth a day.
That'd be frustrating, wouldn't it?
It is! It is.
To spend all your time trying to do a good job and then have them make you un-do it.
Yeah, but they'd come along and start running production of that same thing. But it was, you know, cut down so weak till it weren't nothing.
Yeah. I hear Phil Graves was good for tellin' a story.
Usually on himself.
Yeah. He was like some people I used to know. I believe they ever one, they are, every one, no one, one brother, one boy living yet. They was one, two, four, five of them. And they liked to tell [unintelligible] things, and everything mean they could think of on their family. Not to tell it on somebody else, but them. (Laughter) I guess they's scared of somebody's fist.
That's right. Don't want to start any kind of a feud.
Yeah. They know'd who to talk with. And they, um, they would all come telling some big old lie. I do, I thought it was just lies. I guess they made out like it was true, but I thought it was lies. I had a friend, he was all the time, he would tell you a lie. And he would, this guy come along one day he wanted to know, "Tell me a lie." I ain't got time. I'm going down the road. So-and-so just had a big stroke or died just a minute ago and I got to get on down there." And that old feller's eyes bugged out and here he went and got where he's goin' with this big lie. He asked for it.
Oh, no. I bet it was all over-the community in ten minutes.
Yeah. It spread like fire. That would make you want to jump up and down, wouldn't it.
It would. I surely would.
You ask for it and them believe it. (Laughter) Got it and then believe it. (End Tape 1)
(Begin Tape 2, Side 1)
This was from Southern Living?
Southern Living. She wanted to give me a full page advertising. "I'll give you a full page. There's just one catch, though. I'm not gonna tell you the catch till last." I said, "Okay." That was bad there. She promised and hoped to died, that little girl who lived close to us says, "Stick a pin in your eye." That would be rough, wouldn't it. (Laughter) I told her, "All right, let's here your side of it." She said it was an umbrella stand. She wanted to put it in there. And, tell all about us and our business and everything. But, you've got to promise. Yeah. I had to do them every one, I mean it'd have to be in red, and promise to ship this week and got down there and I'll do it and won't have to pick it up till one--wanted them every one with red and ship anywhere wherever people ordered them.
That was the catch?
That was the catch!
I told her I couldn't do that.
God knows. I'd be behind.
You'd never get anything done.
No, I'd never. That would be a . . .
You have enough of a time now keeping up with people wanting that color.
Yeah, but, it was, she felt that, she said, "You is about the independentest man I ever talked to." I said, "No, now lady, I [unintelligible]. I couldn't do it. She said, "I understand."
Did she give you an ad anyway?
No. She didn't give me no ad. She would if I'd a'paid.
Yeah, that would have cost something, too in Southern Living. Don't you know.
Yeah! They, that thing is a wonderful book, I think, don't you?
I do, too. Well, they've done some articles on pottery, haven't they?
Oh yeah. They do a lots. They done one on us for the State, and we were in it. It was nice.
One of the things, the terms you used last time we talked was "frits."
That's the flux for our glaze. We use it in every glaze we got. We got two kinds of flux. One for whitey- white, or cream, they call it whitey-white, but I call it that antique white.
We have a flux for that. And then we have a flux for any other glaze we got, it's for this. It works in everything except the, the, antique white. But we take that stuff, it's made out of feldspar, flint, and zinc and either borax or we use it, uh, lightning and feldspar flint and lithium and boric acid. And that's uh, we put it all together, yeah, and smelt it.
All together. That's a lot.
And we smelt it. They's so much, there's a formula of it. And then that there will um, we can put that in our glazes and it's transparent. And then whatever you want in it, and it works.
But if we put that in there raw, the borax would crystallize and it wouldn't, you couldn't, it just won't work. And the boric acid and the lithium is the same way. It won't work. You got to melt it and get it into a glass form.
Have it all together. I see.
It's 1ike I said many a time. That man up in the sky, He give it to us and give us knowledge how to do it, but you got to do it by the sweat of your brow, you're not gonna get a free ride.
Mm-hum. Lot of people trying, though.
Everybody wants a free ride. And that includes myself, I don't mind having a free ride. But I don't get it. You
can't do it. If you get anything that's worth anything, you got to dig for it.
Yeah. That's the truth.
You may think you can. You may try it. But, it won't do.
No, you're right.
You got to get in there and work it out. There's not--a lot of people say, "Well, money is the root of all evil." There's not such a word as that. There's words, but that's not right. It's the lust for it. You can have as much money as you want to if you don't lust for it, you're not condemned, it don't make no difference how much you got. When you lust for something, it's something that, uh, you uh, you shouldn't or you have or you're going to. (Laughter)
You can count on that.
Like the whistler. (Laughter) Don't care what it is, how it is, that's it. I like to wish for anything. That's not lusting for it. But, it's uh,
I guess if you're lusting for it, you're wanting it too bad.
Right. And you shouldn't.
You know, a lot of the potteries are having to change their glazes right now.
Working on new glazes to get the lead out.
Oh yeah. Well, that ain't no trouble to do. (Laughter)
But you all aren't changing?
You burn yours though, at a high temperature, don't you. Doesn't that get a lot of the lead out?
Burn it out?
You can, yeah, I can make a glaze if you'll harness it, it's harmless as anything. I think the prettiest glass, and it's harmless, pretty, but they still let 'em make it, but
the one time they cut 'em out and wouldn't let 'em make it. But, that is a lead glass. Prettiest glaze, prettiest glass that there is.
And it's harmless. They couldn't--this here is. Where that got in there now, you couldn't, I wouldn't of recommended a pure lead glaze.
Oh no, of course not.
They all got a percentage in their drinking water and everything else, we got a percentage of lead in it. But, if it's below 7/1 millionths I believe it is, it's safe.
It's safe. Do you test your own?
Or so said the, uh, the Food and Drug people.
Do they come around and test your glazes every now and again?
Oh yeah! We still have to.
Really? How often do they come?
Oh, one time back when the big scare was, they'd come about every other month.
When was that?
That was been in, uh, it was in '70s. Tell you what started it. Mexico sent up here and they sent pots up here and they used pure red lead, and that was the glaze. They didn't use no ingredients with it at all. And, uh, they went and the Food and Drug people checked everybody. And we had a glaze that was a'runnin' a little high lead in it, but we didn't put it in there. And, it's coming from Spain or something we's using. But we didn't do nothing but cut that out, quit. Didn't even mess with it. But, anyway, they take, in Mexico, there's some little girl got poisoned in lemonade, or that Koolaid, one. And the doctors thought that's what it was. And they wouldn't let 'em send no more up here.
So they started checking you guys over.
Yeah. I can take and make me one, make a glaze out of pure red, put it in that, and you can put Koolaid in it, but it won't, it won't poison you and it won't show no, they can't get no, uh, no,. . .
. . .lead content out of it?
. . .lead contents out of it at all. You just take and put vinegar or soda water and it kills every bit of it, don't know nothing. (Laughter)
You can take it and, pure lead and it wouldn't never do a thing.
Is that what does it? Huh!
That is something, ain't it?
Yeah, it is.
But you can do it. Well, I believe, uh, Ty Cobb, I don't know whether he's the head knocker or [unintelligible]. He's from Raleigh. He was the one. He said, he told me all about that, you can do it that way. But he was on the Food and Drug side. And I'm glad they're there.
I am, too.
'Cause I like to live. (Laughter)
Mm-hum. They've done a lot of good things. I know they cause some headaches for people, but. . .
Well, they a, a few things that they go I think, too far. But that, I'm not condemning them for it.
I guess it's better they go that way than the other way.
Yeah. Well, you take a lot of things that they, uh, they went in, you know, and they thought they's gonna get the Kellogg's Corn Flakes. And everybody, God knows, they spent billions of dollars there just a'doin' it.
Mm-hum. It's still on the shelf, isn't it?
It's still there. I like it once in a while, don't you? (Laughter)
Well, and then I think it, another thing that I didn't, that I don't think is right. They do it, and I'm glad they did that. That is our friend Nader with the automobiles and all of that stuff, and they come down there and condemned our wiring, we'd had it 75 years. That guy walked in and condemned every bit of it and fined me $500. Walked around here with his thumbs in his galluses and give you a year, I
believe it was a year to rewire it and everything. So we got in there and rewired it and it's just the same thing. Hain't one thing different. Only we'd have to put in little old clamps at every light socket and stuff like that. And, I never seen nothing like it. He condemned the mills, all of them. That mill over yonder, look and you see we had to enclose it.
Yeah. For safety reasons?
And, big mills down yonder where nobody can get to it, you'd have to climb over and jump in it. And we had to enclose that wheels is the same way. Just, uh, just out of the question. You know, in reason I'm with it.
Well, in a big factory.
And then, "Well, no sir, you don't run that 'un there another minute. It's condemned now. Somebody get's hurt and I'll go against you a hundred percent." And we had that emory wheel and we went and bought a brand new one that had all them shields and everything on it, and the boy couldn't get to the thing. We didn't do nothing but just raise it up. And he come along, "Look at you're doin' there." "How in the hell am I gonna get to it?" (Laughter) He hushed.
Where it doesn't fool with him, not a bit. Working, he wasn't fancying the work nohow.
I know. Sounds like it.
He might have been the one that got hurt.
He might have.
I wouldn't have put too much above that guy, there. He's as big as I was, I weren't gonna tell him nothing. Yeah, it's wonderful to have it. But, I'm for it a hundred percent. I don't believe in nothing that would be harmful to the workers and anybody, or for people like our customers.
No, I know you wouldn't.
But, we use that, ours is all frits and stuff like that. We use nothing that's got any kind of poison in it at all.
You were telling me that you used to buy your glazes, not buy them, but have somebody make them for you?
Yeah. We used to get, uh, Ceramic Color and Chemical Company in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. They, they traded
our stuff. But we got, they got, you know, too big.
We didn't buy, we didn't get big. We just, ours was small amounts, and they'd have to charge so much, 'bout, they'd have to wash out their mill for ours when we's getting part of their frit and it messed up our colors. INT : Mm-hum.
They didn't do it intentionally.
. It just happened.
They done the best they could for us. But that was the way it was.
So when was that? When did you start doing it all yourself?
Well, it was back in, uh, the early '40s--no late '40s. After the war, you know, you couldn't buy nothing during the war. And, then when we got to where the companies could make it and sell it to us, why then, then we got ahead. That's when we went from wood to oil.
Who helped you convert your kilns?
We did it ourselves. We just. . .
Did Harwood Graves help you with that?
No, he didn't know nothing about that. He's, uh, machines. No, we got that one out yonder where, the one that we're refilling, our main kiln. There's a, we got that built and he, uh, knew some guy that done welding and he bringed him over here and done the welding of that metal around it to case it in?
And, uh, he did that, Harwood did that. I told him, and he put up our air pipes, our air, uh, pipes, too. But he didn't know nothing abouts of it. And I told him, I said, "Well, go ahead and just bend it." "I ain't about to. I don't no nothing about it and I ain't a'gonna touch it." Well, I had never done too much there, with that, but I knew I could do it. So I went ahead and put the air and the oil in there. You got to have air--oil, air with the oil in the oil line and you got to have it, uh, extra air to the burner from uh, from uh, circumference air, compressed air. And then we got to have uh, uh 24-ounce from, uh, the blower, the blow air that's free to come to the burner. Got to have three different types of air going to it.
Air coming in there?
He said, "I don't know nothing about it and it ain't no use in me messing you up. If you can do it, do it." He walked out the door. Wouldn't do it. And I went ahead and crawled in there.
You knew about it, then?
Yeah. I knew enough about it that I could, uh, handle it.
Had you been reading about it?
Well, I had read some about it and, well, years back, and then, I'll tell you something another. You've got to have for a diesel, too. You've got to have that same method for a diesel motor. And, I knew a little bit. Yeah, I had a, knew more about it through that than I did the other. I knew I had to have it in there. And, the instructions will tell you how much you got to have and the balance of it is just, uh, good knowledge of your own.
Go to work. And that, that is the best of anything, is your own good knowledge.
Yeah. It is, isn't it?
Good common sense.
You can't just go out there is you ain't nothing but a wood splitter and do it, but, if you've got any, any good knowledge at all, you can do it. Anybody can.
Did you mess up?
Did you mess up your first few kilns?
No. It just wouldn't work.
It just won't work at all?
It just worked, just like your motor in your car. I can put all the air to it but it wouldn't light; it wouldn't burn. So, you got to have it right or, it won't work.
It won't even work at all.
The "glitch" got out of it. I don't know what done it, who done it, or what. But anyway, it got out the first of the year. Had trouble with it three times. Said, "Oh, my gosh, it's got to be fixed this time. I got to do it." I was gettin', get by with it, but it gave you a lot of trouble.
That was this year?
Yeah. But I got in there and tuned it up and away it goes. (Laughter)
Just knowing what to do, isn't it?
It is. It, well, airplanes and things are the same thing. They're safe if the mechanic does his job. And the pilot will do his, and then, that's it.
Have you ever had a kiln to blow up on you?
That's pretty good.
I had a friend, he told me one time, said, "You're gonna get killed with that." I said, "Why do you think I'm gonna get killed?" "That thing's gonna blow up right in the middle of you." "How could it blow up?" "It can. Don't you stand here and tell me." It's a old, old man. I said, "Well, maybe it will. I hope not." It, uh, gas, now, you can blow one out of the sky with that right quick.
There's a lot. But ours is oil and it's not confined.
Some of the groundhog kilns would collapse on you after while, wouldn't they?
Yeah. That was because you didn't have the footing of the wall in right to start with. You cain't collapse. .
Yeah. You take that thing there and you put it out here and you put it, uh, concrete or anything that you want. And, good timber's all right if it don't get too close. It'll burn out if it does. But that one, you get that and put concrete out here and put concrete out there and then start that against that and it's got to go out before it can go down. And it cain't do it. It's impossible.
Okay. Did the salt ever eat out the top of a kiln. And you have to replace it?
No. It'll burn 'em out. The fact about it, the more you salt a kiln the better and easier it is for it and the prettier salt glaze, you know.
Is that so?
Yeah. That's the way it goes. It, it's beautiful. Yeah. They, but, we had a 1ittle old groundhog kiln here, but it wouldn't take but about 6 1/2 -7 hours, I could fire it out. That was back when I was young then. My dad, he would help me put it in there and then just as soon as it got cool enough, we'd put another one in there and fire it up. Just go on and do it. We had a lots of beautiful, beautiful pottery. I got one piece that's just almost perfect. It's got, it's blue salt glaze. It's the nearest perfect piece of pottery I ever seen.
How do you make a blue salt glaze?
Use, uh, cobalt sulphate. And it's just nothing, only pink water.
When you put it on there it looks just pink.
It comes out blue? The whole pot?
Yeah. Beautiful. Where ever you put that on, you paint it on there. . .
Well, I've seen it decorated.
Yeah. You can paint it on there with an old wagon paint brush. Make it good and strong. It looked almost there, you know what I'm talking about if you don't know what it is, blue stone. About like that. Looks about-like, only it's pink.
Who did that pot that you were saying was almost perfect?
I'm not braggin' now.
No, I know that. I know that.
Maybe I have, maybe I can think to get it and bring it down here and show it to you.
I'd love to see it and take a photograph of it.
I'll be back next week, if you can remember. (Tape stops, then starts)
So, when y'all went to school, you had, you and Nell had a two-room house, school house.
Two-room school house. I was, I'm about three years older than she is and she was in that, in the first grade and you'd hold up your hand like this when you wanted to ask something or didn't know the word or something. And she was back there and everything was just as quiet as nothing you know, and she held her hand up and the teacher said, "Okay." And she said, "C-A-T." And the teacher said, "Cat." Nell said, "Cat?" (Laughter) Repeated it, you know. Got her so bad she didn't know what to do. Everybody, "C-A-T" at her for a long time. (Laughter) Just killed her.
When we're so young like that, things just, you know, like.
Oh, it embarrasses you. You think you're ruint for life. I know.
You sure do. Mm! I guess you just had one teacher, or two teachers?
No, we had two teachers. One was the "Little Room" and the other was the "Big Room." That was the way it was called. That's what everybody, didn't know nothing else. "Where's she at?" "In the Big Room." He'd know where to go.
It was fun. I, uh, learned. I didn't go too high. I got in the fifth, the fourth and the fifth grade. It was a mix, you'd mix it, then you'd have four and five. But I got enough education. I, well I'm glad I didn't get no more. I might have been a durn fool. It does hurt people, when you overdo it. But, I got enough that I know as much as, I, my English is bad. I got a good friend. He's high educated. He is a high educated dude. (Begin Tape 2, Side 2)
He, he uses everything. He was the highest English, and he's high every kind of education, but he's not, he don't even, like I said, he's just, he can do it. He knows it. And if you want to know anything, he can tell you, in that. And he told me, uh, I told me one time, me and him was setting and talking and I said, "Well." He didn't,
hadn't known me very long, and he said, "You know, Waymon, a lot of people knows you." And he said, "You ought of spread a real good example for people like that, that they put all kinds of confidence in you." I said, "Well, I don't do nothing bad." I said, "It's just like it is. I don't have too good a English and you've done found that out. No use in my trying to tell you."
But you don't have trouble saying what you want to say!
No, I uh, if you'll just be sort of careful with it, you can get it to where it's nice and passable and it would be for anybody. Regardless. But, he weren't, he was wanting to, he just thought that--"Now you ought to be real good and put a good example for everybody. Everybody knows you." Just about.
I'd say you're a pretty good example just the way you are.
Well, (Laughter) that's what I think.
He said, "You are." But he said, "Don't never let it change." And I won't. Next time you see me I'll be just like I am now. I see him often. He always runs up and shakes hands with me and tells me how glad he is for me, and how proud he is of me and all of that. But, it's, uh. He was right. You can, maybe, say some things at some times that wouldn't be a good example. Don't make no difference who it is.
That doesn't have anything to do with how much education you've had.
No! Uh-huh. He weren't talking about my education. But I's just telling you how, how good education, but it don't, he just, why you'd, he'd come in here, I don't care how he's dressed and I'd be digging a hole there or trying to prize out a rock or get a pipe out of the ground. He wouldn't do nothing but pull off his coat and throw it down there and in he'd go. And he keeps, uh, old clothes in the back of his car, work clothes, in the back of his car. And he told me many a time about passing along and maybe a man out there plowing and doing something; maybe trying to do two jobs. And he'd say, "Let me do the plowing, or let me do that." He and I'd work a half a day and we'd vacuum the seat.
Where's he teach?
He's a preacher.
Preacher? Around here?
Yeah. At Crossroads.
What's his name?
His name is Don, Don, uh, a peculiar little one. I'll get it in a minute.
At the Crossroads Baptist Church?
Yeah. It's a new church. He come down from, uh, he had a big church there, in Statesville, above Statesville. And I don't know how many congregation, how many people in the congregation, and, he come down or these two fellas went up there from Asheboro to listen to him. Invited him down one time. He come. They told him, "How 'bout coming down and let's startin' a church?" He said, "I have to study about that. I couldn't do that right off hand. I'll let you know." He is a bright fellow. He come down, talked with them and said, "Well, we need it." And he didn't do nothing. He went back and resigned. Said, "I have to sell out my house." He had a big business, too. He was a big contractor one time. Said he was called to preach, and sold his house and quit.
And he was a big contractor. He come down here and he bought him a home, bought some land up there on the big mountain. Beautiful. It's in sight of our house. They built a church up there, five years ago. And, now they built. . .
That's the rest home, too, isn't it?
Rest home. It'll open in September. I drove by last Sunday. They paved the driveway. Not finished all on one side yet, but they're getting ready, and it'll be, uh, September. And as you go to leave that church and you turn right and left--right, going north, prettiest view I've ever seen anywhere. I don't care if you go in your mountains, where ever you go, you will never see a prettier view of the East. And that's the prettiest sunrise that I have ever seen. Used to come along there coming to work, every morning.
And you'd see it.
And it was beautiful. Prettiest I ever did see.
Well I think this country around here, this area, this whole area is really pretty.
And that's, uh, you can see, uh, from there I don't know how many miles to Coleridge, but you can see where
Coleridge is. Oh, it's miles over there and it is certainly beautiful.
Be a pretty place to have a house, wouldn't it?
Wow! I started to buy that place where they put the church, but I'm glad I didn't. 'Cause I'd rather for them to have it. They bought 50 acres of land.(End of Tape 2)
|Transcript of Interview of Waymon Cole|
|Interviewer:||Michelle A. Francis|
|Date of Interview:||August 13, 1983|
. . .Two pieces together, you know.
You learned Jack Kiser how to join two pieces together? Like on those big pieces?
Yeah. He, uh, learned what, how to throw pots here with us.
Really? When was that?
Uh, in the '30s, the early '30s
Early '30s. He was telling me he got out of the Navy or Merchant Marines, or whatever it was, I think, in '29.
And he started hauling wood for some of the potters.
He hauled it here.
Yeah. And then, he, uh, Walter Lineberry?
Yeah. Walter Lineberry.
Was he a potter?
No, he worked here. And he, uh, he worked here and Jack worked here for a long time and that's where he learned to throw pots. And Walter put up a place and he worked some for him. And then he went to Merry Oaks and worked there. Did he tell you about Merry Oaks?
He mentioned Merry Oaks.
He worked there for a long, long time.
That place, how long was that?
Then I believe he went from there to Wilmington Shipyards.
Yeah. So you learned, you taught him how to do, how to join pieces.
How to put the pieces together.
Was he a pretty good potter?
He was a good potter. He would a'been excellent, but he, uh, he just liked other kinds of work, I believe, better than he did making pots.
He sort of liked to try different things. Sort of a traveling man.
Right. He, uh, yeah, he was a kind of a rover I guess what we would call. He was a good man. I liked him. I still like him. We had a barrel of fun together.
Well you're not. He's a little bit younger than you?
Yeah. He's younger.
I think he told me he was born in 1908.
Yeah. He's three years younger than I am.
And you're probably, your health is probably 20 years better than his, though.
Yeah, he's got bad health.
He does. Real bad health.
Real bad, bad health. I don't know, I don't know what his problems is.
I don't either, but he's not well.
And his wife is not well either. She just is,. . .
Her mind is. . .
Gone. She, sometimes they catch her way over close to Ether, or Star, just a'walkin'.
Mm-hum. It's sad.
That's bad. I hate to think about people like that.
She is a nice little old girl, woman that I've knowed her all of her life. And, it makes me feel bad. I was a pallbearer for Mrs. Auman, and he, uh, they selected me and him and another guy that I knew to be the pallbearers.
She was an Auman, Mrs. Kiser?
Yeah, this woman that died was and we was the pallbearers there. I guess, that's the last time that I've talked to Jack. That's been many years back. He, uh, he don't never go nowhere.
I don't think he drives any. And he can't, he doesn't want to leave her. He can't leave her by herself.
No. He don't know where she is. They neither one can help the other. And I don't know why they want, why they would be so anxious to stay with one another, but they didn't know where the other one was at.
I know! Did you all used to go to parties and stuff together?
No, I never did really go, yeah, I have been to some parties with him.
You know, when he was working here?
Yeah. Well, we visited around more than anything. You could call it a little party if you wanted to, if you didn't, it'd be more of a visit. He told me some tall tales about the Navy, though. He said he went in the Navy and he thought he was a pretty good man, and strong and could just about do what like he wanted to do around his little hometown. He said he went in the Navy and he said that this guy's in there and he kept gettin' in his way. He told his buddy, says, "I'm gonna beat the Hell out of him one of these days." No quicker than that, some guy throwed 'em out a couple of boxing gloves.
Yeah. And he'd really gonna take him on. Said, "I'm gonna knock his head off." He said he got out there and this man he swung at him and he missed and he let him hit him a time or two. Said, "And in a little bit, the floor flew up and hit me. I didn't know what happened. And I found out afterwards that I learned to keep my mouth shut." And this was a professional boxer, too. He was good at it. And he said that he got in a ruckus with one of the boys, Navy boys in there, and he was after him and he run up the, goin' on the next deck, and he said he went right after him. He said, "I didn't have no sense." But said, "That learnt me. I was graduated after that." He said, "Just as my head cleared the coming up, he kicked me right under
there and I went back down just as fast as I come up!"
Don't you know that could have killed him!
He said, "It liked to kill me!"
It could have!
"I kept my mouth shut and I was a coward and I a liar or anything else they wanted me to be." He told me some of the roughest stuff on hisself. He never did win nothing. He never won a thing. I think about it. I've met so many different people throughout my lifetime.
That's what makes it all worthwhile! Isn't it?
It is, it is. You can sort of take an inventory of it and go back and just see who was the worst. (Laughter)
Well, Mr. Kiser showed me a photograph album of his and it's all pictures that he took when he was in China. And it's real interesting. He has some of the Great Wall of China and some of his buddies, you know, and lots of pictures of temples and some of the Chinese people and village scenes.
I never did, uh, look at it with him. Well, I never did visit his home. His wife was a little bit, you know, different from most of the people like that.
Was she always, she's always been a little, you know?
Well, I don't know, I don't think, no, she's not been always like that. But, I don't know what the word would be. You know there's some people that you don't get acquainted with, you don't get to them.
I don't know what the word, that's the best I can put.
I know what you mean. I know what you mean. They just had the one girl, didn't they?
Yeah. And, uh, they got one time, they didn't have nothing to do with her. And she got sick and died.
That's kind of sad.
Yeah. It is. It's bad. I hate to run up with people like that. I got some friends like that. And it makes you, oh, I don't know what the word is for that either. But it's, uh, life is too short to have a family and a too big a split in it. It don't make no difference who it is, there's nothing to it. It's like you said about the dividing up the
property and stuff like that. I've seen people and know of some people now they won't no more speak to each other than nothing in the world.
All over stuff like that.
Just a few dollars. I don't want it that way. I like to be friendly. Like I tell the people that works with me, let's be nice to each other, anyhow.
Well, if you can't be friendly with your relatives, your family, you know. That's right.
Yeah. I like to be friendly. I don't want no snapping or nothing like that. I don't believe in it. It don't work out. I weren't raised that way. I, uh, like I said the other time, I believe I told you, that we, uh, we had, might not of had the finest raisin' of anybody, but we filled up the stomach with it and were happy. Who cared.
That's all that mattered. That's all that mattered. Did you remember to bring me that perfect pot?
No, I didn't.
No, you didn't. I thought so.
My goodness. I thought of that one day this week.
Yeah. Mr. Kiser showed, he's only got three pots left, of his own, that he did.
That he did?
Out of all the things he did, turned in his lifetime. He's got a salt glaze jug that he made just for himself to put some apple brandy in, he said. And then he's got two urns, you know, about like that. One's a green and the other's sort of a gold. It's a matt finish. I guess he must have done that at Merry Oaks.
At Merry Oaks.
They're real pretty. He said he had some things that he gave to his daughter. Quite a few things. He doesn't know what happened to them after she died. Did she not have any children?
She does have children?
She was married, her. Let's put it this way, she was married or she shacked with I don't know how many different people. And, uh, it's not no pretty picture.
It sounds like a sad story.
Yeah. It does. It's no pretty picture, and I don't want to help paint it no worse.
That's all right. That's all right.
And Jack and his wife, they was good friends of ours and, uh, I don't like--it's a sad, sad story. But, they, you can't never un-do something like that and there's no use to worrying about it. There's just nothing to do.
You just, you do sort of feel sorry, or I feel sorry for him a little bit. You know, his health is so bad and he hasn't--like he told me that he's so glad to see somebody come by and talk to him because he says he goes for several days and he doesn't see anybody but his wife. And he feels like he's going crazy sometimes. You know?
Yes, I, know he do. I know it's a shame, but I don't go and do it. But I don't have the time.
Oh, I know you don't.
If I, uh, on Sunday, I've been, it's all took up before the day even gets started.
Before you can do anything.
And, I go to church and Sunday school and then they have meetings, I mean the preacher does. And, my wife likes to go back there in the evenings, but I am so beat up with all the company and everything that I've done through the day, till, shoot, I just pile down and forget the work.
Well, you need some time to yourself. I mean, you spend all day talking to people and working and. . .
Right. It just don't work out.
. . .Everybody needs a little solitude.
And then we have a lot of people and a lot of friends and they want to come by and bring their [unintelligible]. And we built a little old 'zebo down there. We had a fish pond, had it tore down, leveled off.
Where's that? At your house?
Yeah. Got a beautiful 'zebo there, a big one. And, my wife, she loves flowers. I wish you could see her flowers. I wish you could see her flowers. Boy, they're something.
I'd enjoy it.
If you ever do go to the zoo, from town, when you get up on, after you leave town, and get out of town, you'll go down a steep hill and the housing project's on one side. . .
This is on 159?
Mm-hum. And you go down a steep hill and then you go back up sort of winding up the hill, there.
Do you turn at the sign?
And then it's up there and there's a lot of little old signs there on the road. One of them's Hill Top Church, Crestview Church, and there's a little lake, right there, fish pond. My doctor friend's got that. Well, you turn there to the right and it's the second house. There's two columns out there and it says "Cole" on each one. Well you be sure--don't make no difference whether we're there or anybody else is there. You be sure to go out there and circle the drive and stop and look all you want.
I'd love to.
Yeah, you do it. I wouldn't know when you'd ever be there, though. You walk down through the 'zebo. It's nice.
I'd like to.
Just sit and enjoy it if you'd like to.
You'd like it. It, uh, it's good and we have, she has flowers. Gosh, it has flowers, flowers, flowers. I'd kill myself at it. I been a'puttin', water, waterin' them for her, roses, and stuff like that. She puts live flowers in the church every day, every week.
That's so nice.
Yes it is. That preacher man, he says, "I like a live flower." She's got a armful of roses now in the refrigerator. She put, I seen her put some more in there this morning. She'll pick some flowers this evening to take over there.
Take them over there. That'll be beautiful, those roses.
I want you to go look at that church.
I do. And if I just follow that road, it'll take me to
Yeah. Just go right road, and you get out there after you pass where I told you to turn to go to my house, and you go back out there and then turn, go to the next fork in the road take the left just a little ways out there and it goes up to the church. And it's a beautiful, beautiful sight.
Well, I was coming from Asheboro this morning and I saw the Crossroads Baptist Church sign.
Why didn't you go up?
Well, I had to come on down here.
Well, you've got your limit. You'll have some time some day.
I can do it on the way home or something.
Then when you go back that way from the church, there's the prettiest view of the sunrise in the east, of any place you can go. And I don't care if you what mountain, in the mountain area, you'll not find nothing no prettier.
Well, I doubt, I get up pretty early, but I doubt I'd make it to sunrise out here. (Laughter)
It is sure beautiful. And then that rest home there is, you'll go right by it. They'll open it up next month. And they started it in January.
That's a nice thing they've done.
It was rough and they couldn't work, do much work with it, but they'll have it open the last of September, the first of October. I believe it's September, the last of it. And it's gonna be pretty, too. I have some doctor friends done and signed up to come live there the balance of their days.
Put their name in the pot.
It's beautiful, beautiful. We, uh, furnished a room there. I think it's nice, if you can do it for somebody like that and help out. You ain't gonna take none with ya, and if you can afford it, do it.
That's right. Someone else will enjoy it.
I liked it. I told them I guess that's where I'd wind up. (Laughter) It ain't far from where I live. It's in sight of it.
That's right. You told me you almost bought that
I did, but where the church is. I come in one inch of doing it. Why, I don't know why. But I'm certainly glad I didn't. I probably wouldn't of sold it.
I wouldn't. They bought 50 acres of land for less than $45,000. That was a good buy.
That church will prosper with it. They'll start having their park and camp grounds and all of that there. It is wonderful. They, my wife, she has Bible club over there in the trailer park. Hard to get in down there. You may not think so, but it is.
They won't let you in.
No sir. No trailer park hardly. They just live like that. There's almost a wall. But she kept messing with 'em, messing with 'em, and they even come to our house. Now the preacher said, "That's something that I don't understand. I've never had nobody. They won't even let us go in, to call."
Why are they that way?
And they, they, lots of them come to our house and he said he don't understand it. Well, they just like this. I'm not talking 'bout nobody but this is the way it is. It ain't no use for me trying to get around nor to tell a lie or nothing else. The people lives there and they shack up and they do any way they want to 1ive, and not only in that trailer park, but.
. . .but around. . .
. . .oh, in Raleigh, and everywhere.
But anyway, these people, she got over there and she asked them if they would, would they be willing to, if she could get enough, let her have a little Bible club. And she talked to the preacher and she got him and another, the preacher and another, his assistant, and they went over there one day, and they've spent a lot of time. She got her foot in the door. They had a big old bus and it burnt diesel and you'd have to run it you know, when they were to heat the thing. And she cain't talk too loud nohow and that messed her up. I told her, I told him, I said, "Well, one thing about it. Cain't get no driver, nobody cain't drive
no diesel thing." They can a straight gear, you know, like a truck or a school bus or something. But you find one, and I'll buy it. And he did, he found one of them over at Blakeson or somewhere over there. He went over and tried it out. He come back and he said, "It's a good buy." I said, "Go over and buy it."
That was a good thing you did.
Said, "I'll give you the money." I gave them the money. And they sold their big old diesel. They got, I believe, $10,000 for it.
Well, that's pretty good!
It was. They got out, they wiggled out, they did, but I don't know who was, I believe he was the engineer over there.
He's a smart man.
Yes he is! And he got out of it. And now they got that bus, she'll go back there. She's off this hot month when everybody's out of school; some of 'em went to grandmom's house. But she'll go back to teaching and having her Bible class the first Wednesday in September. She'll be back in business. Then she goes to Grimes, uh, Nursing Home on Wednesday, too. She has a program there, too. They love her over there. She gives assistance sometimes if they ask.
(Laughter) They'd rather have her! Yeah.
Everywhere I go, I reach back and get my old gun. It goes, too. But, I don't want to come home and somebody'd take me on and kill me. I just want to get out.
You were, you know, we were talking about Jack Kiser and he was working for your dad in the '30s.
That would have been right in the Depression.
Well, you know, during World War II you were telling me y'all made lots of lamp bases.
Well, what did you do during the Depression?
We made pots.
Just made--did you, were you doing wholesale?
Yeah. We done a tremendous lot of wholesale.
Even during that time?
Yeah. Man, I'll tell you another thing that we had the advantage of here, was, uh, Pinehurst. That was a wonderful winter resort then.
It done real good through the winter and spring. But we, we was lucky. We tried to price the stuff that about anybody could buy it. And then we done a tremendous wholesale. We sold wholesale; when, uh, it was pretty lucky. We did for Gimble Brothers, Wannamaker's and them in New York.
Gimble's, Gimble Brothers.
And Wannamaker's, places like that. We'd ship tremendous lots. It was not, not high priced stuff like it is now.
Would it be like what you used to call dime store pottery?
Flower pots and. . .
No, we had urns and all kinds like that! Take and, uh, we would get a order maybe for 500, 20-inch vases from Gimble's. That'd take a right good lick of time.
Yes indeed! 20-inches. That's a pretty good size. . .
. . .Yeah, that's a pretty good size pot! And we'd sell the lot to them and before that order, I mean it would be back and we were selling lamps then, too. But then we got to where we weren't selling nothing, only like I said, nothing but lamps.
Isn't that something. You'd think that the rough time everybody else was having, the economy, that nobody would be wanting to spend money on pottery.
No. But they couldn't buy no metal in them times and when the war come on, you know, they stopped selling anybody metal, and take and put that into making people buy lamps. We had all kinds. We had some beautiful lamps. I wish we Waymon Cole, 13 August 1983, 20 August .1983 had some shades on it now. And then we, uh, before we even got into that, that was before the Depression. It was, you know, lean times, but it wasn't the Depression. We sold to, uh, a company in New York. The name of their shop was Uneka. And they bought a tremendous lot. But they was too expensive. We, they'd a cleaned up if they hadn't a, they thought, you know, they put too much price on one article.
So they had trouble selling it.
Right. They run into that later. Doing fine for several years, there, but then they went into, oh, "We want to make a killing now. We got something ain't nobody else got." Well, you can price yourself out, I don't care what you got.
That's right. Well, were you selling to them in the '20s, then?
Yeah. And, back in, yeah, back in the Hoover times, I'll just tell you this much. I never did know what a depression was. I'll be just fair with you, honest. I'm not, we weren't wealthy or nothing, but I'd drive Chryslers where everybody else didn't even have a Model T. It was, uh, I done real good. I've been fortunate all my whole life. I was talking to one girl, a woman now. She said, "Well, back whenever we was young, all the rest of the boys walked. You rode in the fine car. She give me Hell about that. I said, "Well, I didn't have no fine car."
I was real lucky. I worked and,. . .
Well, I guess, too, your dad had sort of built up a reputation, hadn't he, as being a pottery person, and people knew about you.
We didn't really have to build it up. We had it, we almost started with it up. And he, uh, he was a pretty thrifty man, business man, too. I don't know whether I told you, did I, I told you about that there Sunset Pottery in Asheville, didn't I?
That shop? Is that the one that had the real pretty big shop? Yeah.
No. That was in Asheville, North Carolina.
Go ahead and tell me about it again.
Anyway, he was, this man, it was the Brown Hardware people. They was wealthy. Oh brother! They was wealthy. And in that Depression, it hit them so hard they went busted like nobody's business. And they had to go bankrupt, they
did go bankrupt. Then they, this guy Brown and another fellow, they decided they'd go into the gift shop business and wholesale--retail and wholesale both, and have all kinds of mountain crafts, all of that. And they did. And he come down here and he told my daddy, he said, "Now I've got one proposition and that's all, that's all that I can do. I'll put all my cards on the table to start with and there'll be no more." But he said, "I want to, if you will furnish me the pottery, I'll give you a note, every load you bring me. And we'll be in business. And just as soon as it goes to coming in, we'll go to paying off notes." And it took about a year and a half to two years before they got, you know, built up to where it began to come back. But it paid off. And they, we sold them pottery, Lord a mercy. Our truck would go up there every other week.
Good heavens! You sent 'em a lot of stuff.
Yeah. And then we got to where it was bringing the cash back every time. The check come back with the truck.
Mm-hum. So it paid off. Sometimes it pays to trust people and give them. . .
It pays to trust people and give them a little help. You know, your dad didn't have to take all those notes. He could have said, "If you couldn't pay, I don't want to give you any pottery."
Yeah, that's right. But he, uh, was a good business man. And, he done it. I been there many a time. Drive the truck up there, lot of times, you have to get away, you know.
Mm-hum. It's pretty up there.
And it was wonderful. We'd go up and down and we sold pots that way and then we'd keep adding on more gift shops, Washington--more, all over the country, you know. Good gift shops. They'd come in, most of them'd come and get their own stuff. We wouldn't have to do nothing but just pack it on their truck, car, whatever. And, it really did pay off. We stayed in business. And that's the way the Depression, we rode it out. And after the war, then it was, we had, we had a big field to play.
I guess you did then. And then you started doing a lot of retail business, didn't you?
Yeah. We started doing a lot of retail business and then it got to where we could, uh, the prices was up and everything went to going up and we done real good. I ain't got nothing, I got nothing to kick about in my whole life.
Was there a slow time in the beginning of the '50s, somewhere in the '50s, when things. . .
No, not with us.
No, not with you all. Well, I think you've been blessed.
I have, I have. I really have. Do you know I believe I told you about, that Don, that Don MacIntyre, the preacher over at the church. He said, "Waymon, the, uh, I know a lot more about you than you think I do."
Did he say that?
Yeah. Yeah. He said, "I know you, and a lot of other people knows you." And he said, "I don't want you to ever change." And I said, "Well, I ain't gonna do that. No sir, I'd never change. Not the way I've been and am." And, that's the way it was with it back then. We, uh, back in the '50s, it, uh, other people, they just weren't selling. But me and Nell was running it, you know, our daddy died in '43, but we, we kept right on going and climbing every year. We'd get better and better, better and better. Oh, I've seen a few, you know, slow times, but it weren't enough that you could whine about. And then we both could throw pots, that helped. You see, that was just, you know, if it was lean, we didn't have to pay somebody to do it. We'd do it and get gone. It's be like going to the miller, a man a'going down to the mill and getting his flour for breakfast. (Laughter)
That's right, that's right. You don't have the overhead. You already had your pottery and. . .
You had everything you needed. Just, just needed to buy. . .
And we had a real good crew that stuck in there with us most of the time. Neither one of us dreaded work so that helped. But if you expect to hire it all, you'll run into trouble. I, uh, no, I, been real fortunate. My wife, she come up real lean. Some of the time it was lean on her side.,. And I'm not talking about her folks or nothing, but, she, they weren't the only ones. They was hundreds and hundreds, millions, thousands and thousands of families.
My mom came up lean.
Well, it, it's no disgrace.
No. That's just the way it was.
That's just the way it is and it's not gonna change.
But my dad, he grew up on a farm in the '30s, and so he didn't know what it was like to be hungry, you know. They kept on farming. They made, grew all their food.
Yeah. Not in debt. Nothing like that. That's what paid off.
If you ain't got it to start with, and then you get out there and it gets too lean, you're gonna suffer if you don't like it.
Are you doing all the glazing now?
Nell used to do it, didn't she?
She's not able any more. She couldn't take that and try to run the warehouse, too. I don't mind. It don't, it don't worry me. That, and to have somebody who'll bring it and take it away. I like this.
How many times, do you spend like two days a week just glazing?
About two days. Maybe two and a half.
Do you have all the formulas for the glazes in your head?
Yeah. I can almost do it. I usually write 'em down. Used to, I didn't write nothin' down, went on and did it. Didn't fool with the cone, I could read what heat. Not miss it 10 points.
Uh-huh. That's pretty good!
I'm not bragging either.
No, I know.
But, I can't do it no more. Don't, won't trust myself. Don't want to. Too big a strain. I can almost do it now, but I don't want to. It's, uh, you can just about tell, if you're used to firing one, how, how it's a'runnin', how it's heatin'.
Well then, are you still watching the kilns, too?
Yeah. That ain't nothing to that. That's just, I just come down here. I light 'em off about 5, 5:30 of a morning. But I hear people say, "I wouldn't get out there and start working." Anybody could take a blow torch and light six burners and then go set down and drink coffee or do whatever he wanted to.
Yeah. It's better to get it started. . .
Pretty bad shape. He don't need to be, he needs to be in the hospital instead of anywhere else.
Out in that new rest home!
That's all there is to it. And then I go back and forth every 35-40 minutes, maybe a hour. Well, after the first hour and a half, you, it'd be 'bout two hours for it. And that's all. And you check the cone about 2:00. Got it.
Does Mitchell ever help you with the firing?
Yeah. But the young people,. . .
Go ahead, you can say it. I, you can say it.
I better not. (Laughter) Well, sometimes, you know, he, people knows it all. We'll put it like that. I finally got out of it, didn't I!
Yes, you did.
Well, you take a guy that's read it, read all kinds of books and studied all kinds of everything in the chemical line, the pottery line and almost built everything he had to work with, he 'bout nearly 'bout knows all of that. You can take an old guy, I've seen this guy, he didn't look like he had any sense at all. You just looked at him, you'd a said he didn't have sense enough to get in. . .
. . .out of the rain.
. . .out of the rain, or nothing. And he can take, and pick-up when he goes to work on a diesel motor, he just goes to where the trouble is and starts tearing out and in no time that thing was sittin' there just like that. Isn't that just amazing. He knows what he's a'doin' and he knows what he's gonna do. He don't argue with nobody. And somebody come along tell him that's not it. It don't make no difference, he goes on and fixes it and then puts his tools in his truck and goes on.
Heap a times you've got people like that, that you can, uh, they, they got their ideas and you ain't gonna change nobody. I ain't gonna try. Too big a job to keep myself going. I like, I'd like for somebody to do it, let me show 'em how to, but, up to now I'm not [unintelligible].
Well, I guess everybody has something they do best, do you know?
What you were saying a few minutes ago, though about, you read all the books, study on it, you can do it? Well, you still have to get out there and do it.
There's still a lot of learning to do, just practical experience.
There was a lot that I didn't know when I first started with this. And, like I told you one time, I didn't have too much education to start off with. Mostly what I learned I did after I got grown. (Begin Side 2)
. . .mechanical. So that's why you learned it.
Yeah. Right. And after you get out there and get the experience with it, you got it. Dorothy up here she said, "Well, whenever everybody was about drunk out on the party, he was a'readin' and a'studyin' his books. He usually went in the room and if he was gonna be bothered, he'd just lock the door and shut up, and done his studying." Then I got out there and did it.
Well, you know it paid off, didn't it. All that studying.
That was what I knowed I needed, and that's the reason that I went for it. I knowed I had to have it, if I's goin' up the ladder.
And that's where I had started. And, I didn't aim to go back then.
Well, it got you glazes that nobody's been able to duplicate.
Come even close to.
Well, I could turn in and tell 'em right now. There's a couple of girls come from over at Duke, I mean, uh, Duke University. Their instructor wanted to get some information. I said, "Well, what do you want?" They said, "We want to know what you use in your, in your glazes." And I said, "Okay." They said, "Write 'em down." I told 'em everything that I put in there. But I never, they never did ask me how much.
How much. (Laughter)
They went back. I bet they had some red faces when they got back. (Laughter)
It's all in the formula, isn't it?
I thought about that a'many a time.
It's like baking a cake.
Yeah. Everybody goes to the grocery store and gets the stuff, But when you put it together. . .
. . .together, it's a whole different story. That's right.
But, that is the way that was. And, the machinery here, we always put the, take the burners and put them together and work them out. I knowed what they was before I even got 'em. I'd done read every inch and everything. There weren't nothing that I didn't know about them, only just use 'em. And, uh, I got them, that one up here, you know I was telling you about Harwood, he wouldn't hook up the air to it. Says, "Now I don't know nothing about it and I ain't gonna mess with it." He wouldn't. I really never done too much with it. I knew about it, but I never, you know, dickered with it. I know if it could be done I could do it. And, it worked. And I'm glad. And then when you, you can go up there now, like I said, you can put some new fella to operate the burner. He can light 'em. Anybody can light that thing. You can light one and take off with it. But you're not gonna do too good with it until you know how to handle it. It's just like, well, I don't care what it is. It's just like your automobile. If you don't keep it adjusted, and I don't know nothin' about cars. I had a brother, he could do anything. He's dead now, but he could do anything he wanted to to an automobile and it'd run. But, I couldn't. I can drive one. That's about all.
That's good enough, though.
That's all I wanted. I didn't, I weren't interested either. Bound to be somebody gonna keep 'em up. And that's
the way it went, all my 1ife. That's the way I've done it. I think if you go and have--the man that made the machine is bound to know how to run it. If he gives you instructions and you don't follow 'em, you're just not wise.
That's right. Well like you make pots better than anybody, so somebody can fix your car better than you. You know, everybody has their own job. That's right.
If I'd wanted mine fixed, I went to the guy that knowed how and got it fixed and paid him for it. But, they, uh, they're beautiful. That's, that's what I'm gonna do, that's what I'm gonna do. I loved it. And that's what I did with, like I said when I first--I went to work at it, I knowed I needed to know more about what I was working with, and there weren't but one thing to do. And that was get in there and get out of that book and get it into my head, and then my experience would be the guide.
That's right. What did your dad do? How did your dad work it? Did he study like you did or. . .?
. . .or was he sort of just. . .
No he didn't do it that way. In fact, he done more, in his days was, uh, with Albany slip and salt.
You were telling me a little bit about that. Some of the different things that they did that you can't do now because it costs too much money and takes too much time. And you were telling me how you take a Albany slip pot and put it in the kiln, in a salt kiln, and you would sort of, put it, what'd you say,. . .
I've hid it.
You hid it sort of in the middle?
Anywhere you want to put it.
Take another, just a prop, or a pot in it, sagger, or whatever you wanted to, and dig out them flints where it would be, oh, that far down anyway, and the salt can't get down in there, the fumes can't.
Uh-huh. Oh, you put it inside a sagger or another pot.
Mm-hum. And then you put it in there.
I've got some pieces somewhere, if I can find them, I got so much junk I don't know where I'd get 'em at. Anyway, I got pieces that's so black that you could shave by 'em. And so high glossed that you could, a man could take a razor and shave.
I'd like to see those. I bet they're pretty.
Yep. Beautiful. And I got some that, got one little old piece that I bought from a boy and I give him a quarter for it. Little pitcher about that high. And it's salt glazed and it's got blue smoke with the blue, and they don't even manufacture blue smoke. That's died.
I don't even know what it is.
I bet they's not a chemical company, Horschow, or none of 'em, has got any record of, uh, of blue smoke.
Hm. I bet it was pretty.
Beautiful! It was almost like that, uh, black, it was so pretty. But they, don't nobody make it no more. But you can take, uh, cobalt sulphate, it works just as good. If I ever round up that piece,. . .
That perfect pot.
That perfect pot, I'll show you.
I'd like to see it! (Laughter)
It was good. (Tape stops, then starts)
. . .salt, that sprays bigger sp--freckles over it.
Put soda with it?
Yeah. Old bakin' soda.
Uh-huh. And that made the bigger freckles.
Bigger freckles, yeah.
What else. What were some of the other tricks you used to do?
Well, there've been lots of them that've been forgot. Lot of, I don't, that was one thing.
Did you just happen on that accidentally?
Yeah. We did you know, just test it out to see
what it'd do. I've got beautiful glazes. One of our glazes that we got now is double glaze.
No, now that, we've had that a hundred years. They had, when I come back from Boston, I went and made up colors and they had changed where they kept the oxides. Maybe somebody had set something different there. Looked like the same thing to me, and I made it up. Had a big order. We glazed that stuff--whew! Sis said, "There's somethin' wrong."
What color did it come out?
What is it named? She said, "It's pretty. We ain't lost nothin', but it sure ain't what we wanted for our order." And, it was that dapple gray. I used the wrong oxide in it.
Turned out pretty, though.
Shoot. Boy! They been buying that stuff by the ton since. Would now if we had it. I had a few pieces.
I don't think I've ever seen it!
I had a few pieces in this kiln. Had a pitcher. I took it down there a'huntin' the casserole. Couldn't find it. And I had that pitcher in my hand and I set it down there and went out and my wife said that I'd got half-way up the hill and somebody bought it! (Laughter)
Didn't last long did it? It must be really pretty.
It is pretty. That, that piece is pretty expensive. I imagine about $20-$25.
Yep. But, I like that dapple gray business. It's beautiful. But I don't, it takes two glazes to make one now, and one glazing now is about all I can. . .
. . .want to fool with.
Yeah. The wife, she likes it. She wants me to, "Oh, go on, make some more. Let's make a whole lot of it." I say, "Yeah."
You'll have to teach her how to do the glazing. Then she could do that one.
Yeah. She does, but she wants to be in front. And that just works the fire out of me behind, havin' to keep
Yeah. She's a slave driver. Work in that yard. God knows. We can go down there and sit down and I want to go to enjoy it down at the 'zebo. "Let's go down there and just sit around." Even on Sunday, she'll be jumpin' up every five minutes to go do somethin'.
Seeing something to do.
"Let me go out there and see that. Let me do this, let me do that." I say, "Hell, woman, I better get me another me another girl. I don't have no fun at all with you!" (Laughter)
Yeah. She likes to work. But when we first started cleanin' off up there, the. man gonna build the house, she's off, she taught school then. And she was gonna be off two or three days. Got up one morning, "I'm gonna fix my dinner and I'm goin' up there and I'm goin' to work." And she went up there and got her a fire started and started a'pilin' that brush on. Man, I went up there that evenin', she was just as flat as flat could be and as red as that label on that can!
She about worked herself too hard, didn't she?
Said, "I'm ready to go home." Said, "I can't take it no longer."
That kind of job, you know, once you start it, you just don't know when to stop.
No, and then you, she was a'workin' just as fast as she could, just like it's a'goin' out of style. You don't do that. Take it easy. Tomorrow'll come and if it don't, you don't need it no how.
I like it. We'd go there, we done a lot of hard work. It was just old big timber, woods, nothin' but just, they just bulldozed out enough to get the house down there. That's all they done. She didn't want no more trees cut, no more trees cut. Said, "Well, I'm gonna have a circle drive." "Well, don't get up none of the trees." I said, "Well, I'll try not to." Got the drive--beautiful, bunch of trees in that thing. God knows, I don't know how many big old white oaks and stuff like that in, in this where the circle was. Said, "Now that's pretty ain't it?" I said, "If they weren't there you could have a rose garden right."
Boy, she began to want the rose garden.
I bet she did.
Me and a little old Ford tractor and a tiller got all them trees out.
Yep. I get about one, maybe two every evening when I got home. And, I told her one night, one morning, one night I went into the house. "You know, I want to get up and leave about 4:00." "Why?" I said, "Well, I've got such a ugly load on that truck, I don't want nobody to see it." (Laughter) Man!
That's nice you have a place you enjoy and feel good going home to, isn't it?
Yeah. Sure is. We had a good place up here and enjoyed it and everything. But I, I took the fool notion to own a home up there. She'd bought 20 acres of land before I met her and, um, said she's gonna build her house. I'd make fun of her. "Why did you build a house? Then you'd a'had one room and I could just a'moved in with you?" (Laughter) That didn't help none. God!
I know she didn't let you get away with that.
She was making some payments, I said, "Shoot, I wouldn't make no more payments on that." I said, "Let's pay it up." She said, "Well, I cain't. You can." So I went to pay off the, we paid it off and took and uh, oh, a year or two after that, maybe, oh, five, six, seven years before we even decided to build a house. Built the house and it's been hard work ever since. But I love it. I love a home. She said one day, "It's too big for me. Let's sell it and get out of here." "Too big! I'm just as big as this house is. I'm stayin'."
It'd take you just as big a house to put all your stuff in.
What'd you want a little house for? You ain't got no room. I tell you if you ever do come by and she's there, she'll take you through our house. You'll like it!
I bet I will. I'm sure it's pretty.
It, it's big. Our rooms are tremendous. Well, we got, well all the bedrooms are big. We got a teenage room and teenage furniture in it and a pink telephone. (Laughter) Them little old girls spend the night with her, they think they're something.
I bet they do! That's just made for them, wasn't it?
Yeah man. And then, got a big, we call that, it's a gold colored wallpaper and rugs and things. We call that the gold room. I, uh, got up there and I told this man that's back there, I whispered to him where she couldn't hear me. I asked her if she ever sleeps in the gold room. She gets mad. She says, "That's a lie." She ain't too scared. (Laughter) Oh, yeah! They'll leave after while. But she don't do it no more for a long time. She ain't, she quit the [unintelligible]. One time she went down there and spent the night. Next night come along. She said, "You want me to stay up here?" I said, "I didn't tell you to stay down there, did I?" That made her mad. We all got [unintelligible]. It, uh, nervous now. More than she used to be. She used to, weren't much nervous. Works too hard. I told her she's gettin' old.
Oh, you shouldn't tell her that, now.
She does work hard, I know. She's out here with you every day.
She works hard. She works hard, yeah! Wow.
And she's on her feet all day out in the shop.
But, she likes it, and she asked me one time, "What do you think I do the best in workin'?" I said, "Well, you're the best rock picker-upper I ever seen." She can. She can get out there and pick up more rocks than anybody I's ever around in my life! And acts like she likes it.
Do you think she does? Do you think she does like it?
Yeah. I do. I don't like it.
It's too much like pickin' up sticks to me. And that's what I had to do when I was a little girl, before my dad could mow the yard. He'd make me get out there and pick up sticks.
I had other things to do when I was a little girl, than to pick up sticks! (Laughter)
"Just look what I've got to do. What I think of it I could do if you'll just let me alone."
Didn't seem fair to me. Seemed to me if I was gonna have to pick up sticks, I ought to be able to use the lawn mower, too, you know.
Now, they don't pick up sticks. They just eat 'em up, don't they?
I got a brand new lawn mower that I bought this fall, this spring. Best one I ever seen. I'm not braggin' on it. Fourteen horse and it's a hydrostatic drive. And I can move that slow with it.
And the motor and the blade just a'flyin'. But it don't have to [unintelligible] race horse or go with it if I want to. It, it's the best 'un I ever used. One guy come by and said, "I'll finish this out here for you if you want me to." Said, "I wish I'd of knowed you had this. I'd a come over here and mowed everything y'all've got." (Laughter)
He enjoyed it so much.
He's a'wantin' to get a'hold of that thing! The man that works for me, he likes it. I told 'em that this one ought to last me, this lawn mower that I'd bought. I don't have many, mowed the rocks and stumps down level where the new one'd go over it. It wouldn't have to. Oh me. I got a friend that he and his wife and daughter were back then. But she died and, um, he got married again--her daddy did. I seen him. He'd moved out and gone where his wife lived and I noticed that she had got her a brand new ridin' mower and a little push mower. I said, "You are learnin' the hard way. I sure wouldn'a gotten no such a mess as that to have to mow yards with." I'd a'closed it in and made it smaller.
I like to mow. I like to get out there. I don't, I just have a push mower.
Do you, uh, do you like a push mower?
That's what I've got.
Yeah. Did you ever try one that you ride on?
My dad, we had one growin' up, but he and my brother always did the mowing.
Yeah. They done that. You had to pick up sticks.
I had to pick up sticks! (Laughter) That's right.
Oh my goodness.
I didn't get to do the fun part.
|Transcript of Interview of Waymon Cole|
|Interviewer:||Michelle A. Francis|
|Date of Interview:||August 20, 1983|
I wanted to ask you if you could tell me something about the pottery at Merry Oaks.
No, I don't know much about Merry Oak pottery. I, uh, bought the kiln furniture that he had and, uh, after they closed down.
When was that?
Really, I hadn't never met him. If I had I didn't know it, until along about that time. He was a strange man, I'll say that.
What was his name? I've heard it, now. . .
He was a Russian Jew. He was very strange and you didn't get too close in on him. Or I didn't think I was. I might of been closer than I thought I was. But my way of lookin' at it, I didn't think I was doin' any, gettin' any close at all.
Mm-hum. Was he. . .?
But he was nice, he's just as nice as he could be. It weren't no, nothin' but niceness about him.
What kind of shapes were they making there?
They, uh, made some, some of the shapes that we used to make. Still do, some of 'em. And then they had, uh, had their shapes. That, I thought pretty pottery, beautiful pottery. But I don't know what went with him. I don't know whether he went north or where he went after he sold out everything.
Why did he sell out?
Don't know. No, I never did know. He and A.R. Cole was very much close together.
Yeah. They'd do a little drinkin' together. He liked, they both liked liquor. (Laughter)
A.R. was your uncle, wasn't he?
Yeah. But, they, then they'd get mad and cuss each other out and then next day they's friends again. (Laughter) That's right. He, A.R., got some of his stuff from up there, too. I bought a little old ball mill out there, pebble mill, uh, we're usin' it now. I don't believe he charged me but $50 for it. And now, if you'd buy one now, it'd be $2,000.
Yeah. It'd be a lot of money. You called it a pebble mill?
Why do. . .
It's a little jar mill, a gallon jars, there's six of 'em. And we use it about every day. Put that in there and that grounds, grinds that there flint up and back up into a powdered form.
We can get a bigger mill, but it'll pack down in there and you can't empty it and it's not, uh, you don't want to breathe that stuff. No sir, you want to live long. But, it's real, real, been a real good mill. I had to have the gear box fixed, but, every hundred years you're supposed to overhaul something, or get a new one, one.
Well, that one's probably got a few more years to go, doesn't it?
Yeah. It does now. I had a new gear box built. Cost me 400-and-some dollars to have it built.
But you couldn't buy one. They don't make 'em no more. And this guy said, "Why don't you just buy a new one?" I said, "I will. If you got one of 'em, I'll buy it from you right now. And I'll get out of here and let you alone." He decided that he didn't have one there to sell and said, "I'll make it over. But it's gonna cost. As much as a new one of 'em." That's all I need. He went at it. It's a good machine, good machine shop in Asheboro. They're good people. Work. They usually, sometimes they go in there and look ill at me. Well, I have such crude things to make, but they usually throw down the stuff and go at it. Two or three days, I go back and get it. (Laughter)
Must be sort of a challenge for 'em.
Right. They don't understand me. I know that. I'm like, he's like, he's like I was about the Jew. I'm all the time shooting junk to him and ain't many people goes in
there. They go in there bitchin' and whinin' about him chargin' so much. Well, if you're gettin' what you need, and that's the only way you're gonna get it, you better laugh about it and have fun over it.
That's right. Well, I don't mind paying it, if I know it's gonna be good quality work.
No. If they do it. Right. I don't mind.
Then I expect to pay for it, really.
Don't get anything free in the world.
No sir. And it's gonna be in the next ten years, it'll be so much different, that me and you , neither one, if we're livin', you probably will, I won't. But in, in that length of time again, and if it changes like the past five years have, good night!
I know it.
But I liked it when gasoline was about 38 cents, high test, and the other 32. It was nice. Everybody could get a little share out of it.
That's right. You didn't have to think about it, did you?
I mean, you didn't have to carry a whole big sack of money to go to the grocery store. It was a lot nicer, I think. Most of the people want to handlin' a lot of money, but what's the use of it if you don't get nothin' much back out of it. It's about, it's the same, whichever way you want to figure it. It's just different, that's all. Quite different, too.
When did you buy that stuff from Merry Oaks?
Oh. It was in, uh, late '40s or early '50s. Real early '50s.
What about, do you remember anything about the Glenn Art Pottery up on 705?
Well, I never did know too much about that. This guy that fixed it, or I mean built it, he, uh, he was goin' to, you know, get production in handmade pottery. He didn't want but a few shapes and then just run it and that was it. And the people that worked with him, he thought they knew every--all of it, but they didn't. And I'm not criticizing nobody, but they didn't understand it like, like it was.
He thought they would know how to run the pottery?
He thought they'd know to run it. And then, well along about that time, they hit a slow streak and you had to have the right kind, just like you do now, you got to have the right kind of handmade pottery now or you're in trouble. But, back then, they was gonna do just certain shapes of vases and he thought that the gift shops would just, you know, take it in and he wouldn't have to do nothin' on it, just cash the checks. But he soon found out that there was a lot, lot more to it. And then they had more bosses than they did workmens. And that, that don't work out none. No business don't work out like that.
Who did he have working there?
Oh, 25, maybe more.
People that were turning? That many turners?
Yeah. Throwin' and gettin' the clay ready and puttin' it in the kiln.
I've been over there and looked at the, the ruins. That's a big building!
It sure was!
It, it's a huge building.
And why somebody--but he wouldn't never sell it. He was a wealthy man and he never, never would sell the thing. He thought that he had something and he'd just keep on hanging on to it. I would a'loved to bought the burner's from him, but he weren't interested in selling nothing out of it.
Two big kilns.
He wanted to, to unload the whole thing. But, uh, he bought a ice plant and, uh, I never could figure that. And he moved that thing to, with all the 'frigerations comin' in, he moved that to, I believe it was Puerto Rico or some place or another. He put it down there and come out of it. He made money with it!
Yeah. Then he went in the camera business. But where he made his money was in Canada in the brick business. He stayed there most of his young days. And he really did mop
Was that before he started the pottery business?
Oh yeah. He, it was a long time after, and he was younger then. I saw his widow not too long ago. She comes by here. She's nice as she can be. And, uh, he was wealthy. He didn't, he didn't go broke with it over there.
It's a shame they couldn't have done something with that building because it's, it's really gone into--the roof is leaking now.
If they, somebody--well, they started to makin', uh, flower pots in it, you know. They thought that would pay off. But it, it didn't do it. He, he didn't have the right people a'workin' for him. You've got to have somebody that knows how to get a production line and knows how to, you know, send it on through.
And you got to sell it. If you can't market it, then you've just. . .
Yeah. You've got to know, I mean, it's got to pay each day. If it ain't payin' each day you're in trouble.
Mm-hum. When I was over there I found a piece of a pot, it was one of those logs that Harwood did.
Did he work over there?
Did Harwood? No. But I believe he sold 'em his machines.
Mm-hum. I'm quite sure he did. They's gonna make a killin' out of that, but it didn't go over. It, it was back in a pretty lean time when they was runnin' it, and it didn't work.
When was this? In the '40s. Was this goin' on durin' World War II? I forget the dates.
No. Huh-uh. Afterwards. You take, uh, well, there's some of the people that worked, used to work with us, worked there with it. But they'd tell me all about it. Said, "They ain't doin' no good. They're goin' broke. They don't know how." Said, "They'll tell me to go ahead and do so and so, and I don't know what I'm a'doin'." When you got that, you know you ain't gonna do any good. I don't care what it is.
That's right. I had heard that they didn't build the kilns right.
No, they didn't.
That they were built like for firin' brick and not for firin' pots.
Right. That's what I'm talkin' about. He was a brick man.
And that somebody tried to tell him that it wasn't gonna work, the kilns weren't gonna work right. But he wouldn't listen.
He wouldn't listen. He thought it was, you know, like the brick business, but it weren't. They, uh, well, you got some good burners there. I'd like to have 'em. But I'd like to have a new kiln, too. (Laughter) I don't really need it. We ain't got enough pottery, but this 'un here eats it up. We just barely gonna get there with the raw, I mean with the bisque pot for it, it'll be open, out Tuesday, ready to start back. And it'll swaller it all up and I don't know whether we'll get enough out of the other one for two or not. She said she's gonna run some gas kilns, and run some bisque pots in there.
Do you have any bisque ready to go?
Yeah. Mm-hum. Yeah, they got that one full where I'm firin' today, but. . .
That's, the one you're firin' today is the bisque?
Yeah, the bisque. And, it's full, but the way that guy packs it in the mold, it takes it all up.(End Tape)