The Life Story of Elmer Scherer Williams
I was born in Massachusetts. When I was about five, the old man moved down to Pleasant Hill, there, on the farm. There used to be an old tavern there. In Massachusetts we lived with my grandfather. We lived in a big house. There were fifteen rooms. My grandfather was a machinist. He had a garage there and he had a lot of tools. His name was David Scherer, my mother’s father. I get my middle name from Scherer.
My father had a job running the cars up to Massachusetts. My father’s name was Williams, William Williams. “Wild Bill” they called him. No one ever told me how he met
my mother. He had brothers and sisters. One sister got burned up in the fire over on the Durham Road. The other one ran the flea market over there on Route One. He had five or six brothers.
My father moved to Maine after World War I. There was nothing to do up there. (Massachusetts). He was in the wood business after the railroad shut down and got through working on the electric cars. He had worked in a town pretty close to Boston.
So he came to Maine and bought the farm. One hundred sixty acres. He bought it for around $4500, I guess. Paid cash. All the money he had, I guess. Then in six years he mortgaged that up (the farm) and bought this (the land I live on). In seven or eight years he never paid the interest on the loan and the bank took the farm. The Old Man was kind of stupid. He painted all the buildings, though, and then shingled the barn and then gave it to the bank. He then moved to Freeport. I was over to Freeport, over to Mast Landing by then.
I don’t remember nothing about being a baby. I wasn’t the oldest in the family. The Old Man was married twice. He had two girls and a boy by his first wife. His brother, he got after her, I guess, so he gave her to his brother. He never married her. Then he moved to Massachusetts
after that. He lived in Maine, Topsham, I guess. He lived on that road by the Pest House. Right there across I 95 on the right. There were a lot of people. I remember as a kid when we went to school there, a lot of people had small pox. A lot of them died. They buried them right there where the tomb stones are. The Pest house belonged to the town. They might of sold it. If you had small pox, they put you in there. Some of them got out. Some of them died.
My earliest memory? I don’t remember much about Massachusetts. I remember once I was ‑‑‑‑ No, I don’t remember nothing about up there. I remember once the Old Man was coming down to see the farm, and I wanted to go, and I hollered and hollered to beat hell and put my good clothes on. I couldn’t have been very old. He was going down to look at it before he bought it. I hollered and hooted there for two hours. The Old Man wouldn’t take me. I remember that! He went by train there. I hollered and hooted. I couldn’t have been more than four, maybe.
I never knew Grammie Sherer. I never knew anything about her. I think she ran off with another man. I remember my grandfather. I think he was all right. He used to come down every summer where we lived on the farm. When we’d go to school he’d always give me a quarter to buy him some cigars, four for a quarter. “Don’t you come home without em!” he’d say. He got killed in an automobile accident. His wife was driving.
My father? What about him? (laughter) I don’t know. He liked to have me come home every noon (from school) to water the cows while he sit in the house, especially when it was stormy. He didn’t want to go out and get wet. I’d run home and eat my dinner and run down to the pasture there and bail the water out of the hole into a tub for about thirty cows and four horses. He was sitting in the house there while I was doing it. I was the oldest son. I did all the work.
The rest of them, they never did nothing. The kids, he had ten girls. All they did was wash dishes. Old Adlaide, I don’t think she ever washed a dish. I don’t know what she ever did. When we were selling milk, I think she milked some of the cows. Raked the hay in the summer time. That’s all she ever did. The farm pretty much fell to me. All summer long I hauled dressing from under the cellar. All summer, for six weeks. And then by the time I got that done, we started haying.
I didn’t have much free time. Once in a while I used to run down to the brook and go swimming. Down there, you know the brook that runs between the big hill. Jump in. We had four horses, sheep, Had a lot of sheep, nice sheep. Some old Jew come down one day. Told the Old
Man he had a whole truck load of sheep. “A dollar a piece!” Jesus, the Old Man, he looked at them. He bought them all. Christ, in about a week he found out they had some disease.
He didn’t know what the hell it, was. God, I don’t know what they had, but his died and ours, too. The Old Man, he was a good buyer! Lost every sheep he had.
That wasn.t the only thing. He had some cows, forty head. The neighbors give him that “cow care”, you know. When the cow has a calf, you have to him her cow care, a teaspoon. The Old Man, he say, “Oh, give him that stuff!” I only give half of them that brown stuff. I give the rest of them salt. Every damn one of them, I don’t know which one did it, give em that cow care, every one of them died. About twelve, fifteen of them. Hauled them out on the woods. It didn’t bother the Old Man much. He just have some more calves.
He used to have a nice field up here with some Hereford. We used to have one for every kid, a pair of steers. He come up here one day with ten of them dead out here. Somebody poisoned them. The Old Man, he was always fighting with everybody. Goddamn bunch of bums. He always blamed that Amerson Warren up here. He cut some wood for the Old Man. He wanted to get all he could. He had a big stump. He put the wood right over the stump. (laugh) He called it a cord. The Old Man paid him for only what he cut. He got mad.
Billy Edwards up there. He cut one ( a cow) open and took it up and took it over to Bowdoin College to the chemist there she couldn’t tell nothing. It must of been poisoned. What the hell else could it be? Half of them, killed them right there. Took the rest of them and drove them home. When you lose all your (cows you start over. The Old Man wasn’t too much on making money anyway. Christ, he could of paid this mortgage off. He had plenty of time.
Instead of that, when the old Model‑T came out, the Old Man, he had to have one of them. He had to have an old Model‑T.
Yup, tough old life. In the winter time—he’d stay there all winter. In the winter the Old Man used to go down once a month to get some flour, some sugar. In the fall, he’d put in ten barrels of flour, five hundred pounds of sugar, a hundred pounds of lard.
We had everything else here, potatoes, carrots, beans, onions. We used to raise two hundred bushels of onions.‑‑ weed them out‑‑‑ They used to grow low, you know, how they grow like that. (gesture). I used to have to take the kids down and make them weed them. Used to take a club. Weed em out with a hoe‑‑all summer. Weed them god‑damn onions.
Your grandmother had enough to do with fourteen kids. Sometimes she had to lug the water from way down there, about a thousand feet. In the summer time, sometimes the
well went dry like it does around here. Have to lug water way down there. She lugged most of it. The Old Man, he wasn’t too much of lugging water. Hard on his back. I lugged some once in a while. Nobody else would do nothing around here. All they did was wash the dishes. I had
to lug the water a half a mile for that. She (Gram) was a hard worker. She used to make biscuits and bread every day. Biscuits for breakfast, taters, and eggs. The Old Man used to buy a hundred pounds of oatmeal. Didn’t buy it by the pound, he bought a whole shopping bag full. Bought it by the hundred pounds. Had a grain store in them days, of course. He bought everything over to the grain store. Always charged everything. Didn’t pay him off very often over there. Old Izzec Morrell, don’t know if he ever paid him off or not.
He used to bring him (Izzec) over a load of hay once in a while. Used to go to Topsham Fair on a load of hay and all the kids would get in there. All he had to do was pay a dollar, and they’d let the whole family get in. We’d go across the Topsham bridge there and there would be about forty kids who’d get in and bury up in the hay. They’d jump up there and bury up and go right through the gates. After we’d get through the gate they’d stick their heads out. Cops say, “Jesus, look! They got forty kids on that load!”
One summer I was haying with my uncle up there on the Durham Road, right in back of that pest house about a hundred feet on that road, we come out one day and looked and there was all kinds of clothes dumped, brand new clothes. The Old Man, you know, he ain’t bashfull. He got alot of them clothes, overalls and stuff. Picked them up and took them home. Left a few there. Next day I went right back up there. They see them there, Howard’s kids. I was all dressed up in new clothes. Jesus, how the laughed. “‘Where, in the hell did you get them overalls? Christ, you ain’t supposed to‑‑‑ Somebody over to Brunswick broke in to Bodwell’s store. The robbers came up there. The cops were chasing them. They dumped them out there. I got some clothes, some new clothes. The only way I could ever get any. Took ‘em home.
My mother, she could holler. Oh, god, I guess she could holler. She could holler. She’d have to bellor at them kids. They’d get to fighten, them kids. How did she keep discipline? The big kids would take care of the little ones. That’s how it went, I guess.
What did I like best about my parents? Best about them, I don’t know that I can say what I liked best about them. I never thought too much about that stuff. Worst about them? Work, Work, Work, all the time. That’s about all it amounted to.
(About welfare) Griffin used to live down there across the field up in there. You just go up in there a little ways. I guess it burned down. The Old Man, he’s always roaming around nights. He knew this friend and that one. He’d go over to Griffin’s. Then held come home nights. He come home swearing “What’s the matter?”
“You want to know something?” He wanted me to know they was on welfare. “They got welfare somewhere in town”. They used to have welfare, you know. “They was eating strawberries, strawberries and cream in February.” Boy! The Old Man never got over that! How he hollered and hooted! Strawberries and cream! He didn’t believe in welfare. They had some flour down there once, some surplus flour. He had to go down to get it down town. Sent the Old Woman down. He wouldn’t go down to get it. She went down and got seven or eight bags. Them twenty‑five pound bags. “How many kids you got?” they asked. She said, “Fourteen!” The guy’s eyes bugged out. God, he filled the wagon up. The Old Man liked to get that , but he wouldn’t go after it. He’d starve to death first. He’s kind of funny that way. Always hollering about the welfare. But held take all he could get. He took that flour, glad to get it.
What did I inherit from my parents? Nothing! Nothing! ‑‑How to save my money. I never see the Old Man‑‑He was always buying some junk, like that Model T Ford‑‑swapping horses, or something. If he paid his taxes he wouldn’t have lost the farm over there. All I learned was work.
I was the oldest one. Nobody else was big enough to work. The Old Man, he’d take me out of school for a month to cut wood. I was about that big. (gestures with hands) Used to sell wood, about twenty‑five, thirty cord. Used to hire somebody once in a while. And then he had to plow for two weeks. Everybody else put the reins across their neck and go right along, but me, he had to have me drive them back and forth. I’d lose all that time in school, and then I’d go back and try to catch up. I was only in school half the time. The teacher didn’t dare to say anything. There was all Williams in the school anyways.
For neighbors, Combs was around there, and Boydons. Way down on the corner, Bodwell used to live there. The school was right by our farm.
Growing up ‑‑‑ Had to get up in the morning and do the chores before you went to school, feed the cows. Quite a job getting the hay out of the mow. They dumped it in with those big forks full, you know. You had to pull it out to feed twenty cows. The Old Man, he was around there somewhere. He worked outside most of the time. He never kept a job for very long.
He used to help Old Palmer down there to drill wells. But he didn’t stay long. He said Old Palmer made him do all the work. It was better than nothing. He was paying him three dollars a day. It was pretty good then.
I spent about eighteen‑twenty years there on the farm. I never went back. I’d had enough of that. The house itself was an inn. Used to be a tavern. The stage coach used to stop there, you know, change horses, when they were going down to Bath. He painted it all up before the bank took it. He was smart the Old Man, oh he had great brains. Once it got into the bank’s hands, they sold it to somebody else. After a couple of years they tore it down, took it to Plymouth, Massachusetts, and rebuilt it.
One room school house? Oh, we got along all right. Jenny Wilson, she taught two of three years over there. We had all the classes, first grade right up to the eight. We lived right side of the school. We just went home for lunch and came back in ten minutes. Did I like school? Better than cutting wood. No, I didn’t mind going to school, if the Old Man didn’t take me out for some stupid reason. The school year was the same as it is now. Got out in June sometime.
Mabel Beech, the physical education teacher, used to come over from Brunswick to do exercises, and jumping. Had me jumping‑ I was the oldest one there and I was jumping. She had us running down hill, you know. She put a string across. Christ, you could jump higher running down hill and jump over that string. Christ, I won all the schools in town. Why, in the hell, wouldn’t I, running down hill . I was smart enough to know that. She’d have a couple of guys hold the rope and we’d see who could jump the highest. We were running down and jumping to beat hell. I had to laugh on that one.
My favorite teacher ‑‑‑ Susie Harmond taught for years there, Susie Nason, she taught in Brunswick. She died a couple of years ago. She was good. She’d stay a couple of nights with us. I’d drive her horse home for her. She’d take me to the show. First time I’d been to moving pictures. I’d stay there all night. My feet used to be black as ‑‑‑‑ On the farm, there, I only took a bath once a year in the summer time when we went out in the brook. She used to stay in our house all winter. She drove back and forth with her horse in the summer time.
I went to Brunswick in the eighth grade. Old Lady Strout, she was the principal, and taught the eighth grade. Once there I got ninety eight on math, me and another kid. He thought he was pretty smart. “Elmer and Whatcha Call It got 98”, she says. She told everybody how smart I was. She was tough, but I liked her. Strout, I didn’t know her first name. Strout. I started high school, I remember, then the Old Man told me I was too smart to go to high school. Boy! He was a good one! Got to go to work. Cut wood.
How did I get to school? Well, I used to take a horse for awhile, then sometimes I’d take a bicycle. Then I’d ride bareback. I don’t know where Adlaide would go when I’d take the bike. Maybe she quit before I did. I don’t remember that she quit. Just Helen went through high school. only one of fifteen children. She went to Freeport to school. I don’t know if she ever went to Brunswick or not.
I was twenty‑five or twenty‑six when my parents got a divorce. I was out by then. The Old Man, when they got a divorce, a god damn liar for something. They put him in jail and told
him that he wouldn’t get out until he apologized. About a week went by and he thought it was time to get out. Then he apologized to the judge. The Old Man kept a couple of the kids and the
Old Woman had two or three. He paid her five dollars a week. That’s all he paid her. That was the alimony. Big deal. She had to go to work. She worked in the shoe shop for years there. She had her own house just down the road.
We used to have an old cat that had kittens every year. The Old Man got mad one time and he said “Pass me them cats.” There was about a dozen kittens around there. I passed him
the cats. He had a hammer and wham! He’d throw them down and in back of the cows. About a dozen of them. The last one, he was an old tom cat. He didn’t hit him hard enough, and Yeow! he went out of the barn like a streak! He was gone! About a week he come in the barn and the Old Man says, “Take that old cat out and shoot him! I put him in a bag and took him out in back of the barn and hook him to a tree and shot the bottom of the bag right out, and out come the cat! Wroof! He went out through there and Boy! Didn’t she travel! About a week she came back in the barn again! The Old Man says, “I thought I told ya to kill that cat! She could hardly walk. Her legs were half shot off. This time I put her in a shots‑bag. There was a pond there out back. I throwed her in the pond and sit there and watched her drown. She kept ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ I had to go out and get the bag and bring it back and put a rock in it, and then I threw it out that time! She didn’t last long. It was a he cat. I’d think he’d want the cats around to catch the mice. We’d always have some dishes around in back of the cows. When we’d milk the cows, we’d full them all up with milk. The cats would keep the mice out of the way. We never had many dogs. We had one that belonged to my grandfather. He sent it down here from Massachusetts. It was getting old and he wanted to get rid of it. It stayed there for a couple of years. It got old and feeble. There was an old Frenchman who stayed there for a couple of years. He used to drive the Old Man’s horses. He took him, the dog, out in back of the barn and shot him. Old and feeble.
I never had nothing, no dreams no ambitions. The Old Man says, I’d never mount to nothing.” I guess he was right. That’s what he said. You know what the Old Man used to say that
was his big thing. When he’d get mad at the Old Woman and everybody else he’d say, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing!” That was his philosophy. The Old Woman was nothing, so nothing from nothing left nothing. The Old Man, he was pretty good at that stuff.
For fun we used to slide in the winter time. Down the big hill there. It would be all ice. Right in front of the school we’d put a sled and go way down to the town dump, almost. All ice. Teacher used to holler at us.
Her relatives used to send us big boxes down from Massachusetts for Christmas. Come by parcel post. My uncle used to send all the presents. The Old Man, he wouldn’t spend five cents for presents. The Old Lady used to save some of her egg money and buy a few things. Her brother had a good job. He had a leather factory. Never had no kids. He used to come down summers and stay a week. Eddie May and Mildren were going back with them once. The Old Man, he had a dozen, so he said, “Here, help yourself!” So he took the two girls in the car with him and got as far as the hillside and they squawked so much he had to bring them home. If they’d kept going they’d been better off.
I never had anything important happen to me. Just get enough to eat. That was the main thing. What else is there? I was sick once. Thought I was going to croak. The Old Man never had any doctor for anybody. If you didn’t get well, you died. I had a fever. God! I couldn’t even get out of bed. I couldn’t have been very big. I was about that big. By God! He had a doctor for me that one night. He gave me some medicine. The sickest I ever was was when I had the measles. We all had the measles. All them kids. The whole bunch of them. God! Wasn’t I sick. Broke out with measles. I never was so sick in my life! That was as sick as I ever remember. Jesus, wasn’t I sick!
The worst memory about school. Some teacher, I don’t remember who she was, she wanted me to write something down, about fifty times. Something I did. I wouldn’t do it. I sit right there till about seven o’clock. I was suppose to go home and milk the cows and take the milk half way to Brunswick. It started getting dark. She was getting scared. So I started to write. I wrote one line. She said, “That’s all right. Do the rest tomorrow.” She wanted to get out of there. She had to walk way down the hillside in the dark. Thought a bear was going to get her.
Once when I was in eighth grade, we was sitting there. It was about four o’clock. Everybody was sitting as quiet as a mouse. She was a tough old girl, Old Lady Strout. She could handle them. No matter how tough they was, she could handle them. She had about thirty or forty in the room there, eighth graders. I made a spit ball and I threw it‑woof! I tried to hit a Frenchman. Instead of hitting a Frenchman, I hit a girl in the head. Boy! she let a bellar out of her! Thought I killed her. All it was was a spit ball. Old Lady Strout said, “Who did that?” Nobody said nothing. They all see me do it. They all was looking at me. After about fifteen minutes I decided if I wanted to get out of there I’d better do something, so I stuck my hand up. I said, “I did!” She said, “Dismissed!” The next day she said nothing. Never brought it up. Old Lady Strout. I liked Old Lady Strout.
What was it like being a teenager? Work! That’s all I ever did. Work! Went up to Lake Moxie when I was about fifteen. First time I ever went up. By god! I got a big buck. Up there at Fish Pond. First time I ever shot a deer. Old Northrup shot one, too. The Old Man tagged it. He didn’t shoot. The Old Man never would shoot anything. But I got one! I was only about fifteen. Thirteen points, I guess. Go out in the woods sometimes and you’d see a dozen. I’d get nervous and I couldn’t hit nothing. Bing! Bing! Bing! If I see a deer first, I could get him, but if he see me first, I’d get so nervous I couldn’t hit nothing. That’s the first one I see up there and I got him. Been going up to Moxie ever since.
For work, I got what I could get. You had to eat. I tried to get in the Bath Iron Works a few years before I got married, but I couldn’t get in there, I got in the Portland Shipyard. I got in there. Before the shipyard, I worked in the shoe shop. For three or four years I worked on the highway in maintenance for the Old Man.
I first realized I was an adult when I got chasing women. Wern’t many around there to chase. I was an adult when I was that big. Out there doing man’s work. What do you call that?
When I worked like a man, I was a man. Nobody else would do it. I got married and got out and went to Freeport. I stayed home mostly. I used to go to camp once in a while. Fishing, hunting. Used to be a lot of fish up there to Moxie. But now there is so many people up there ‑‑‑‑‑‑
I had nothing to do with the community. Belonged to the Grange once, we did, after we got married. Went one night and never went back. Never went back after we joined, three dollars a piece.
I got four children, ain’t I? What about it? Norman, Sonny, Elmer Jr., Donna, Sharon. That’s what you want to know? Had to feed them. During the Depression, people lost their farms. Curtis, the one who ran the store, in the winter time everybody, they wasn’t working, they have to eat, you know, they have to have groceries, they couldn’t pay it back, so he, Curtis, took their farm. He owned every farm on the Pleasant Hill Road.
You’d go right down through there. He owned them all. No work. That’s how he got all them farms. He got every farm on that road. I lost some money in two or three banks during the Depression. The only one that paid off was Key Bank, Depositors, it was then. They paid off every cent you had in there. Them ones over to Brunswick, Fidelity Trust, took every cent. I had some in there, a couple hundred. They took that. Never got nothing. The First National, they paid off 10cents on a dollar. The only one who paid off all your money was Parker Foss at Depositors. They didn’t have no bank insurance like you do now. I’d lose $150,000 now if they weren’t insured.
The stresses of being a married adult? You’ve got to eat, that’s the main thing. I paid rent for a couple of years. We lived in that little shack beside Bud Call there for awhile. About froze to death in the winter. Strout bought it and had to get out. Then I got that rent down to Mast Landing, Sellingers. Lived there a couple of years, then I built a house. The land was for sale and the guy only wanted $150 for it, so I put a shack on it there. That’s the first house I ever built. Lived there for nearly thirty years. Didn’t know much about building houses. What was it like to have children? Listen to them fight. Normie and Sonny, fight all the time. Still fighting.
What values did I teach to you? Steal all you can. (laughter) No. I didn’t teach you much, I guess. Your mother brought up you kids. All I did was work. She put you through college, didn’t she? If she didn’t work, you never would have went through. I don’t know what you would have been doing. Work in the shoe shop, I guess. Nornie, he wanted to go to college. “Go to Gorham,” I said. “No! I wanted to go to the University of Maine.” Cost quite alot to go there, I guess. Gorham wasn’t good enough for him.
What gifts were important to me? I got a barrel of pepper once. Someone gave me that. I like pepper and salt. Got to eat. Nobody gave us much. Nobody ever gave us anything. What we got, we got on our own. I never know anybody to ever give you nothing in them days. If you wanted anything to eat you get your own.
During the war I worked in the shipyard. I went back and forth by car. I had a car. Had to have somebody ride with you. If you didn’t you wouldn’t get any gas. They had a bus go back
and forth. I took my car. I bought a new car. Down to Parker Foss. He had two down there. He sold one to me and the other to Ray Randall. The last two he ever got for four or five years
there. It was a Ford. Nobody else had a car. They all rode with me. On that Ford I didn’t pay it all off. I paid him three hundred. I think it was eight hundred. I owed him five.
I saved up five hundred. I went up to his house one night and give him the five hundred in cash. I sit there. Wanted a receipt you know. He never said anything about a god damn receipt. I said, 11 Well, How about giving me a receipt for that?” “You’ve got the car, ain’t ya? You don’t need a receipt.” “The hell I don’t. He give me a receipt. By god I was up to camp, there, and somebody brought the paper in and there was Parker Foss right on the front page. He had stole $250,000 from the bank uptown. Jesus, it’s a good thing I got that receipt, I would of still owed him $500.
I was always able to save money. I learned that on the farm.
I used to have rabbits. Ship them to Boston. Git about $20 a crate. Fanuell Hall Market. They’d send a crate back and I’d save some more. I used to have about a hundred rabbits there. Then one night, Owen’s Airdales, he had two, killed every rabbit I had. Got up in the morning didn’t have a rabbit. The Old Man, he wouldn’t get up and shoot the dogs. I didn’t dare to, I wasn’t very big. That was the end of my rabbits. Saved some money, though. Used to have a guy come around with clothes, you know. I bought a leather jacket off him once. I went with it over to Brunswick to the show. Your mother, she was with me. Left it in the car. I didn’t know there was thieves. Came home. Was two weeks before I remember my jacket was gone. Stole it out of the car and never knowed the difference for two weeks. That was the end of my jacket, god damn thieves.
My parents didn’t try to teach me any beliefs. Never went to church‑‑well, we did go to church down at Grosstown. We used to go there once in a while. The Old Man used to go down on Friday night and listen to them holler and hoot. Never had a regular minister. Old Stockford, down there, used to make home brew and sell it. He used to preach there Sunday’s. The Old Man used to make hard cider. Used to take one hundred or so bushels down and get ‘em ground up and those college students used to come up there. One of ‘em came and asked if he could fix up those old barrels. So he brought up a hundred pounds of grapes, raisins, brown sugar. He put ‘em in those barrels, you know, and in about a month, that stuff, boy! They used to come up and get drunk, go back to Brunswick and be laying side the road, drunk. The Old Man he got scared. He was afraid of Old Billy Edwards, the cop in Brunswick, you know. He took and dumped it all out the side the road. Never made any more. They, the college boys, never came back after that. That stuff was 100% alcohol, I guess. That was powerful stuff. I used to sit there and steal those grapes when nobody was looking. I had never had no grapes. Ccllege students, didn’t they like the booze.
My first experience with death was when my little sister died. She was only about that big. (gestures with hand) Sadie was her name. She could walk. I remember I was in school. The Old Lady came running over. The teacher sent me over to get my father. When I got back she was dead. The undertaker came up and put her on the table. The kids, we were all watching. He drained the blood out and putting stuff, the alcohol in. We were sitting there watching around the kitchen table, I remember that. Just another kid. We got a dozen more. That was Sadie. She was about a year old. She died right there. Crib death they call it.
No one had any influence on me. I was my own man. I never listened to anybody. Figure they knew not as much as I did. Now you know. Nobody ever did.
What will the world be like thirty years from now? Same as it is now, I guess. They spend billions to send someone to the moon. That’s kind la stupid. What they gonna do? They can’t live up there. Just give these scientists money. That’s all.
The most important decision of my life? When I got married, I guess. That was the only important one I ever made. I bought this land off from the Old Man. He was going to sell it to his brother for $400. I said, “I’ll give ya $500.” I put it in your mother’s name ’cause I was riding to the ship yard during the war and I didn’t have no insurance on me, you know. If I were to get in an accident they’d take that.
I didn’t have to work so hard when I was married. I didn’t have the Old Man to bellow at me. I guess my happiest time in life was when I got married. I got out and away from the farm.
I was my own man then. I had my woman. Anybody can have kids. That ain’t too big a job. I never looked after you kids. Your mother looked after ya. She made all your clothes—I took you hunting a couple of times. Stupid to take ya. You’d get shot. Jesus, I was Stupid to take a kid
out there. Everybody had a gun and couldn’t see nothing. Used to go to Brunswick once in awhile to church. Used to pump the organ for 50 cents. Used to go to church out there once in awhile I ain’t been to church in forty years, fifty years.
Why don’t ya ask about the winter time over to the farm? There used to be forty feet of snow. We didn’t have roads ’cause there was no roads broken out. Snow every day. They start shoveling snow and it would snow again. They’d shovel the same spot. All them hills would be right full of snow. Every time it would snow, it would blow right in again. They would get up there and shovel it over. We couldn’t get out for two or three weeks at a time.
There ought to be a law that when a man gets over 75, they ought to take him out and hang him, shoot him. There wouldn’t be so much of these cripples around the country ya got to
feed, sit and doing nothing. Hang him up in a tree and put a rope around his neck. kick him. Tie his hands. 75-its time ain’t it? What you going to do with all these other people coming up? I’m taking up quite alot of space. Too much.
What will the world be like thirty years from now? Same as it is now, I guess. They spend billions to send someone to the moon. That’s kind of stupid. What they going to do? They can’t live up there. Just give these scientists money. That’s all it is is money. They give the money to all these birds overseas, so they can kill each other. They could spend it over in this country. That’s where they can spend it. Like hospitals. These people that ain’t got any money for health insurance. Something the matter with them, they can’t go to the hospital. They ain’t got any money. I’d think the government would put the money in that stuff. Instead of building tanks, airplanes and other junk, instead of trying to go to Mars, Jupiter or something.
I don’t know what anybody could learn from me. They can’t learn much, I guess. I don’t teach them nothing. Well, I don’t know. To be honest, I guess. Don’t let anybody put nothing over on ya. You got to watch alot of these birds. They’re always putting something over on ya. You got to keep ya eyes open, ya ears open. A lot of people, you know, they put something over on ya if they can. They try to get ahead of you one way or another. Try to listen to what you say. They make me laugh. I never stole anything anyway.
What am I certain of? I’m going to die someday. That’s what I’m certain of. Death and taxes. I’m certain of that. That’s about all I can say about what I’m certain of. If you don’t pay your taxes, they’ll take your house, and you’re going to die anyway. We can all look forward to that.
Your mother didn’t suffer much. One night she was out and didn’t come to. She didn’t say much about suffering if she did.
About regrets. I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. If I went through college, I could of. During the war I could of signed up and been a fighter pilot. I’ve been in a plane. One of them little ones. Never been in a big one. I would of made a good one. You ain’t looking at no dummy ya know.
How do I feel about myself? Well, I never made much money. I’ve got a few bucks, though. I ain’t no bum. I’m worth a half a million. Put that on there so they can hear that! Tell them the Old Man’s worth a half a million. And I didn’t have no big job. I just saved my money!
My philosophy in life? I make a dollar. I save 50cents. See! That’s how I got my money. Every time I made 50cents, I saved a quarter! Learned that myself! As a kid, I never liked paper money. It all had to be silver. Nobody had any money in those days. I was the only one who had any.
As a kid I used to trap in the fall. Used to trap skunks. A good skunk was worth three bucks. I skun out two one morning. Didn’t even wash my hands. The old teacher, she sniff, sniff,
I think it was Susie Harmond. She didn’t say nothing. But I bet she could smell me for a week.
I never wanted to go anywhere anyway. I never had much mix‑up with people. We all went to the White Mountains once. Your mother, she went to Florida to see Sharon once.
A title to my life story? BUM! ha ha ha.
I’m tight. A title? How to survive. Don’t depend on somebody else to look after ya. Look after yourself. If everybody would do that, they would be better off. Some people, they got to depend on somebody else. Don’t depend on nobody. People they ride around the country, ya know, and spend their money. Then they cry, they ain’t got any money. They couldn’t have. They spend it on something they don’t need. That’s half the trouble with the country. Don’t buy if you ain’t got the money. If you spend and borrow the money, you got to pay twice back. The interest will kill ya. That’s why you never get anywhere. You borrow a dollar and got to pay back two.
Borrow $10,000 and by the time you pay the interest on it you pay back $20,000. That’s a fact though. What’s the sense of throwing it away on something you don’t need. What do I want to spend money for on what I don’t need, once I get enough to eat. The important thing is enough to eat and a roof over your head. Well, you got that done? Good!!!