Mr. C. C. Clark

OBERSCHMIDT:      Mr. Clark, would you please give me the first recollection of your school days? What type school it was?


CLARK:          Well, my memory serves me that the first school that I attended was what we knew as the Crossroad School, about three-fourths of a mile southwest of Ruth in a field on the edge of the woods.


 OBERSCHMIDT:     Did that serve more than one community other than Ruth?


CLARK:          No, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How many teachers did they have there?


CLARK:          They had three (3) teachers.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And that took care of how many grades?


CLARK:          Well, I believe we went through the eighth grade.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Was Ruth a little town or village in Lincoln County then?


CLARK:          Well, it was just a store and post office here then, and one house, one dwelling.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Whose store was that and dwelling?


CLARK:          That was my father’s home.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, he established the community of Ruth?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How did it get its name?


CLARK:          Well, he didn’t establish the community of Ruth. The name was established in 1886 when the post office was established.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What was it called then?


CLARK:          A family by the name of Felder lived north of here, in fact the first house this side of Topisaw Creek, and they had a baby daughter born that year named Ruth before the post office was established and they named the post office for her.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then did your father buy this property from the Felders?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Do you have any idea when that was?


CLARK:          That was, that was about 1890.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Was any other industry here then other than farming?


CLARK:          Well, the Butterfield Lumber Company had a log road that was near here and finally came on through here and ran a branch northeast of here, that was strictly, it was know then as Norwood and Butterfield Mill at Norfield, Mississippi.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And that was the only industry except just the community?


CLARK:          Just farming. Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Did you father do what they called “furnishing of farmers” then at the store?


CLARK:          No, ma’am, not at that time.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How long after that, do you know, that that custom of furnishing the farmer started in this area?


CLARK:          That didn’t start, when, after his death. He died in 1913 and after his death when I bought the business out from the other heirs, we began to do some furnishing to farmers. Fertilizer and so on.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What was the major crop then?


CLARK:          Cotton.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And is it still the major crop?


CLARK:          No, ma’am, very little cotton planted now. In fact, I don’t know of any cotton in Lincoln County except what we plant.


OBERSCHMIDT:      About how many acres of that do you plant now?


CLARK:          Last year we had five hundred twenty-eight (528) acres.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And does that pay off now in cotton? The cotton has been so cheap.


CLARK:          Well, the – if we could have gathered the cotton we made last year, we could have made some profit, but we had a bad season and lost quite a bit of this cotton.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Are you a mechanized cotton farmer? Do you have the pickers and all or do you use native hands?


CLARK:          We have four cotton pickers, mechanical pickers.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And then you have the gin here yourself.


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      When did you establish that gin?


CLARK:          In 1924.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It’s been going a good long time, hasn’t it?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And you furnish farmers here?


CLARK:          Well, a few of them, not very extensively.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You say they’ve ceased growing much cotton. What are the farmers planting here?


CLARK:          Most of the farmers now, those in row crop farming are planting soybeans and we have a good many dairy farmers and of course, they grown feed for their dairy herd and that consists of hay, corn, and anything to feed these dairy cattle. And then we have – we have what – we have beef, a good many farmers growing beef and they grow feed for them, for the beef cattle.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then you do not have very many, what we used to call “one-horse-farmers”?


CLARK:          Very few, very few.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, is the school consolidated here now?


CLARK:          This school – what I called the Crossroad School was abandoned I believe – not abandoned, but moved to a new location back this way in, I believe in 1908, and a new building built there. And since then it was moved again to the present location and a new building built. And that building has been abandoned and a new building, an entire new building was built there I believe in 1948. And that school now was abandoned – I don’t know several years ago and what’s there now is a private school.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That called the Ruth Academy?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, in this, each time they abandoned these school buildings, was the population or the enrollment larger each time the reason they had to rebuild? Or were there something?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am, the population had increased and needed a larger building.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You were at one time on the County School Board, were you not?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What years did you serve?


CLARK:          I couldn’t be positive just to the exact years. I served for six (6) years and I believe it was in the Fifties (50s). I think it was in the Fifties (50s).


OBERSCHMIDT:      What type school did we have then?


CLARK:          Well, we had mostly the consolidated schools; had more schools then than we have now, but they were still consolidated schools. We had the school routes.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Was this a Smith-Hughes or government paid?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How did they operate?


CLARK:          You mean…


OBERSCHMIDT:      How did they function?


CLARK:          It functioned well.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What was the plan for the government? Did they have specific things that they had to teach in order to get that Smith-Hughes aid?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am, they had to have so many pupils – a minimum number of pupils and for agricultural part and so they had Home Economics part. And we always qualified for that. I never, I wish we could have kept the school. We had good buildings but then they thought the location here was maybe too close to the county line and they didn’t want to cross the county lines.


OBERSCHMIDT:      I see. What did they have for the boys? You say they had Home Economics for the girls.


CLARK:          They had agriculture – agriculture for the boys.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And in that, what was taught to the boys? Everything about farming?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That included the 4-H Club?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And that was, their sponsor was the County Agent?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Most of the instruction came there other than the teacher or did you have an agricultural teacher?


CLARK:          We had an agricultural teacher and also a Home Economics teacher.


OBERSCHMIDT:      I can remember as a child that Ruth got most of the prizes at the county fair.


CLARK:          Well, we had a good school here and had splendid teachers. I know the agriculture teachers were very good and also the Home Economics teacher, and I think we are seeing the results now in our community here from that.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Definitely. You do from that and then the Extension Department for the county has helped a lot too. They worked it hand in had, did they not, with that program?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Back to your childhood days now. Give a little bit of an impression about your home and what you had then in comparison to now. Did you have running water or anything like that?


CLARK:          Well, our home was the first house this side of the creek – Topisaw Creek – and we didn’t have any modern conveniences at all. Not even a supply of kerosene lamps. I know quite a bit of the studying that I did was by pine knot fires at night. And no, no conveniences of any kind – running water or bathroom equipment or – not – my mother didn’t even have a kerosene stove. It was all cooking was done with wood.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That was really hard on them.


CLARK:          Surely was.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, how long was it then before you began to get these conveniences?


CLARK:          We didn’t have any modern conveniences until – I believe it was about 1916, I believe – then we began to get some modern conveniences, some water into the kitchen. That’s all we had then – didn’t have any bathroom equipment.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What did you have? A power plant of your own?


CLARK:          No, ma’am, we just had – we didn’t have any lights or anything then, but we had water pumps in the well that would bring that water out – pressure pumps you know – had water pressure in the bathrooms.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How did your father get merchandise for the store then?


CLARK:          Well, let me go back a little bit. See, we lived down here in this house on the hill, just an old style house, a very common house, and his crop – I believe that was in 1885, he made some cotton and he sold it to a merchant in Summit by the name of Teunison. And Teunison went bankrupt – he was a merchant there and he went into bankruptcy – and my father had to take merchandise for the price of the cotton. That’s how come he entered in the merchandise business. We just had that in one room of the house. In 1903, he moved up here from there. He built a two story modern home. I remember the Cooks and black carpenters from Brookhaven built this home and he built a little store across the road here, close to the house. Up until then he didn’t have any outside – anything except a room in the house. And also, he had down there where he was, he was postmaster there a long time. He had the post office in the store.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then he moved the Post Office to the new building?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am. Now, that post office was established there in 1886 [in undertone he asked if he had said ’96 and I told him he had said 1886]. I might have said ’96. Wrong. I had the old records at one time. And Mrs. Felder, or maybe her daughter was postmaster and the office at that time. In a few years – no, when they moved and my father bought the property, the post office was moved across the creek to another home. I don’t remember the name of the lady who was postmaster then. And then it was moved from there back east here. Mrs. Gulledge was postmaster for a few years and later she resigned and it came back then to my father.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Now, it was named Felder for how long?


CLARK:          It was established as Felder and I believe it was in the Felder family about three (3) years. But it was still Ruth. You see they…


OBERSCHMIDT:      It was still called Ruth; they called it Ruth.


CLARK:          For the little girl.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It’s always been Ruth, but in the hands of the Felder family, until it came into your father’s hands.


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You had a cotton gin for a long time. When did you establish that?


CLARK:          1924.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How long were you on the…


CLARK:          Now, my father owned a gin here before then. When he died in 1913 and died intestate – without a will – and we had my older brother, oldest brother from Brookhaven, Teunison. I don’t know if you knew him or not.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Quite well.


CLARK:          He was administrator of the estate and my father – that was the first year that I remember the boll weevil was here was in 1908. And by 1913, when my father died, it was just impossible to make cotton, but he’d built this new gin and spent several thousand dollars on it. My brother was administrator of the estate and he sold that gin to a man named Coker for five hundred dollars and a horse – a pony horse.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Good heavens, things were cheap then, weren’t they?


CLARK:          They were.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then when did you buy it? You bought it from the man, Mr. Coker?


CLARK:          No, ma’am. Mr. Coker moved and he sold that gin to a Mr. Baker down in Pike County. And Rauls built a gin here in 1922 – I believe it was in ’22 – and they operated it for two years and I bought it through the Hazlehurst Oil Mill, a small gin, and then later we operated that about four years and I sold that to – traded it rather to the Continental Gin Company for a larger gin.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Was this a very large community then? About what did it consist of?


CLARK:          Well, when we think of the community and think of the rural routes out from here, I don’t know if we’d want to think of it as that size community, or just the local community here. At one time the post office – there was two routes from here, two rural routes. Now, they have consolidated into one route which is a little more than one hundred miles under one route, but the community has grown some and we do have all the modern conveniences. We have a rural water system and in 1938 – back in 1937 we had meetings over different counties and organized the Magnolia Electric Power Association.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s the REA?


CLARK:          REA. It has grown by leaps and bounds. Just to show you, then we didn’t, back when, time we’ve gone over here, we didn’t have any conveniences. Now, we have all the conveniences I guess that most people in town have.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Most of the well-to-do people want to live in the country now.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Because they have the conveniences. Well, you’ve seen a whole lot of changes in your days here in this area, haven’t you?


CLARK:          Certainly have. Yes, ma’am.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You were on this REA committee, were you not?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am. I’ve been serving as President of the Association since 1945.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Is that individually owned by the farmers or is there stock in it?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am. It’s a co-operate.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How does it function?


CLARK:          Well, when it first organized, it was right during the Depression, as you know, in 1938. The memberships then were five dollars each and then it was up to us who were really interested – well, let me get back a little bit from there. In order to have some conveniences here, we had bought two electric systems. One to stand by and one to keep running all the time. But that was very expensive to keep up. But we organized this association in 1938 – didn’t actually get any service until latter part of 1939, you know, had to go through the government channels and – but since then, we have had dependable, I’d say, electricity. At that time the membership to, membership fee to the people that are members – that would be members of the Magnolia Electric Power Association – was five dollars. Well, it was a problem then to get people to realize the importance of going forward with it and it took us several months to really get it going. Now, those same membership fees, well, the minimum fee is twenty dollars, but if you’re in a rented house, it’s fifty dollars and the trailers that folk lived in, that is – I believe it’s seventy dollars a membership. All those things, they moved around so much, you know, it’s hard to keep up with them.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It has to be high in order to collect.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Let’s go on back to this dummy line from – did you say Norwood and Butterfield had it then?


CLARK:          It was originally, the mill was placed over where Norfield was. There’s nothing there now, but it was known then as Norwood and Butterfield and later Butterfield bought it out. The post office was established there and the town is Norfield and they built the road then. It’s Bill Spaneke’s road originally, just for a log road. Later they ran a combination passenger-freight train. And they had branch lines running from here and yonder as they moved further east. Their goal was and they did finally reach that, was from Norfield to Oakvale connecting with another railroad, in fact crossing the NOGN that was known at that time as Tilton.


OBERSCHMIDT:      South of Monticello?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am. South of Monticello that’s at Tilton, and they ran the road then on across Pearl River to Oakvale. And they thought they’d cut all the timber. You couldn’t hardly give them the grade timber that was growing here then. They didn’t, they cut all this clean; they didn’t re-seed any of the land. They began to own quite a lot of land and all the mineral rights that they bought on the land. They operated there until 1933 and in the meantime, Butterfield, Butterfield Lumber Company had sold out to Denkman Lumber Company several years before that and in 1933, they began to abandon the railroad because – I remember it was in August, 1933, when they were taking up the line along here. Now, when they bought this timber back in the beginning of the mill at Norfield – now this is hearsay – I wasn’t large enough…


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s what I want you to tell, as much as you can, hearsay also.


CLARK:          I was told – and I think reliably so – they were buying all this virgin long leaf pine timber in this country to cut at this mill at Norfield, I’ve been told they bought that timber for one dollar an acre. Now, that’s just hearsay – with me – I don’t know if that was true.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, prices were cheap then…


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Until you can’t make a complete comparison, but that still was too cheap in comparison to what they received of it.


CLARK:          That’s right. And it was all – all the timber that they cut then was virgin long leaf pine timber.


OBERSCHMIDT:      In other words, they stripped the field?


CLARK:          That’s right, stripped the fields, and they cut those stumps up this high [he measured about hip-high to an average man]. In other words, they used the band and crosscut saws to cut it and the men didn’t bend their backs, they just stood up and cut them down.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Think of the waste.


CLARK:          Oh, my goodness.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Good gracious. It was a long time before they could sell those stumps to Hercules or had they rotted out by then?


CLARK:          No, ma’am. A lot of it, in fact Hercules bought most of all that. But then, they, a lot of that timber was, they thought was worthless – I say a lot of it, some of it there – farmers then would cut the balance of it and give a logrolling and pile it and burn it.


OBERSCHMIDT:      I’ve heard of those logrollings.


CLARK:          Yes.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then they would have what they called “clearing the ground” then and get ready…


CLARK:          Get ready to farm.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How much did the lumber company sell that land back to the farmer? Or do you know?


CLARK:          I don’t know, I really don’t know. Maybe, maybe it wasn’t a lot of it that they – I don know some of it back here toward Little Creek Field that they owned and – but I don’t know what they got back for the land, but they reserved the minerals and have been getting some good returns from the oil there.


OBERSCHMIDT:      What percentage did they reserve?


CLARK:          I really don’t know.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Now, this is the heirs of the Denkman Lumber Company?


CLARK:          Well, you know, Mr. Brady was their attorney.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Mr. Who?


CLARK:          Mr. Brady, and I imagine maybe some of their heirs there get some royalty. I don’t know – probably they did.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Those heirs are really raking it in there on this Little Creek Field.


CLARK:          Now, they didn’t have so much of that, I don’t think.


OBERSCHMIDT:      When did this Little Creek Field come in?


CLARK:          Let’s see, that came in in a – well, let me see.


OBERSCHMIDT:      ’43 and ’44 was Brookhaven and Mallalieu and it was along somewhere…


[Mr. Clark gets up, looks in his files to get the exact date and can’t find it.]


OBERSCHMIDT:      Now, you said the approximate date of the Little Creek Field…


CLARK:          Little Creek Field, I believe the approximate date of that was maybe 1960.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Did you see a very radical change in the community after these fields came in?


CLARK:          No, ma’am, we had very few people here with any minerals left.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You mean they sold them all.


CLARK:          Well, they didn’t know it. You see, Little Creek Field is – well, like a bird would fly, is at least four miles in this direction [he pointed in a southeasterly direction] and that is the north edge of it.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Then the Denkman Company had all of this royalty?


CLARK:          No, ma’am. They didn’t have very much of it. Quite a bit of that was owned by the natives there who owned the land. Of course, they had, they had sold quite a bit of the royalty and minerals – didn’t know anything about it – it was during Depression.


OBERSCHMIDT:      A dime looked like a dollar.


CLARK:          That’s right. Just the old saying, “ a wagon wheel hole.”


OBERSCHMIDT:      You know, we’ve gone through a lot in our days, haven’t we?


CLARK:          We surely have.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It’s amazing though, the development and the knowledge that the youth have now and …


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      …in developing from what we went through and came out on top.


CLARK:          Well, I’ve thought a lot about, if my parents had even had Social Security what it would have meant to them.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Boy! If you didn’t have anything when your husband died, you were just on starvation more or less.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Social Security is a wonderful thing; but still – I don’t like to see some of it spent in some ways that they’re doing.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      This medical situation is something terrific.


CLARK:          It surely is.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It really is. They are going to have to do something about that or we can’t stand it.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Poor folks can’t be sick, can they?


CLARK:          That’s right. I had a cold for about ten days and somebody said, “Why don’t you go to doctor?” I just dread going to the doctor. I have a good doctor if I can see him. Dr. Atkinson. It’s a problem to see him.


OBERSCHMIDT:      He’s trying to retire.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      I don’t know what I’ll do when he does.


CLARK:          I don’t know either; my wife and I both go to him.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It makes me think about how people used to talk about DAD – Dr. F. V. McRee – you know, when he was Chancery Clerk, he had to retire because of his health. And they’d say, “Oh, we just can’t do without your father. He’s just got to practice.” And Mother would say, “You want him to still live, don’t you?” She would try to be, you know, easy about it.


CLARK:          That’s right. Let’s see, your sister’s name that worked in the Chancery Clerk’s office.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Yvonne Cheairs.


CLARK:          Yes, she’s still active in her work?


OBERSCHMIDT:      Yes, she works for Mr. John Perkins. I better get… [Personal conversation. Break]


OBERSCHMIDT:      Mr. Clark, do you remember as a child hearing your parents or grandparents tell anything about the times after the Civil War, the problems they had during and after?


CLARK:          The only things that I remember came from my grandmother on my mother’s side and my great-grandmother on my father’s side and they both lived with us for several years. In fact, in their last years, they lived with us. And they told me quite a bit about the Civil War. I remember, I don’t know if I should say this, but…


OBERSCHMIDT:      It’s alright.


CLARK:          But my Grandmother Clark – Great-grandmother Clark – she had never gone to church much and when she came to live with us, we’d go to church. We just had church once a month at Shady Grove Baptist church. She was, she was converted – never had accepted the Lord and had never given it much thought I don’t reckon.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Probably had not been introduced to it.


CLARK:          That’s right. But anyway, we didn’t have a baptistry then; had to be baptized in the creek. Her son didn’t want her to be baptized; it was in November. He called her Mamie – said, “Mamie, you’ll take pneumonia!” But she didn’t hear to that. She went on and was baptized. After that, well, she continued to live with us. She lived about two years after that. She was eighty-seven when she was baptized.


And my Grandmother Greer, on my mother’s side, she lived with us until she died. But what my father and mother knew – they came up the hard way, even harder than we did, you know. They were very conservative and all I knew when I was coming up was a pair of brogan shoes and jean pants and that is for school, you know, like that. My job was to look after the cattle – milk[ing] -- and the horses. But we were taught to work, I mean six days a week. I’ve heard my mother say – I don’t know that times – for us to be saving and she’d say, “Willful waste makes woeful want.” Have you ever heard that?


OBERSCHMIDT:      Yes, and my husband used to say, “Work hard and save your money.” My oldest daughter married a dentist. They were in Germany three years – he was in service – and they were traveling over Europe in the province of Bavaria there (it’s in Germany) and they painted all these pictures all on the buildings representing what the building was. She had studied German through the University of Maryland and was just thrilled to death that she could read what was on the building as they passed. There was a bank and on it, it had the words “Work hard and save your money” and it was a picture of a farmer, merchant, and everything – all on the front of this bank. She took the picture and sent it Ted and said, “here is your motto in pictures.” We got a big kick out of that.


CLARK:          My oldest daughter and her husband – he’s a doctor – they were in Germany a while – had one little daughter then. And I’ve heard her talk about – well, she learned a little German, not much – she was only three years old at that time. She was learning English along and learning some German.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, if he was in service, they had to have German help – household help, so she learned a lot and I think that is good that they did.


CLARK:          I think so too.


OBERSCHMIDT:      We were talking about – back to your family. Did they tell you very many tales about the Civil War hardships?


CLARK:          My grandmothers did. My own parents – father and mother – I’ve never heard them talk about it too much, but they – the grandmothers told us quite a bit.  Most of it was things that you know – came up with the cattle and others. But back then when my father bought this place here, I never did hear him say what he paid for the land, but it was cheap. He owned a place east of here. Of course, they didn’t know anything then but horse to plow. In fact, I’ve seen them plow oxen. But that was the aftermath of the War in the South and it came through their generation and on through mine because we felt the effect of it.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Surely. Hardships on through the Depression. In 1929 was when the crash was, but we in the South felt it in 1932.


CLARK:          That’s right, and on through.


OBERSCHMIDT:      And in 1936.


CLARK:          Well, on into the middle of the 40s. We were still feeling the effect of it. What things I said about the Magnolia Electric Power Association, in trying to sell memberships for five dollars, many of the people just felt like, well, that’s five dollars I’ll never see again.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Not foresighted enough to visualize it.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You’ve always been very progressive. In observing you and your family and all, you’ve always been progressive in building and doing a lot worthwhile. I notice that your name is on so many committees over the county.


CLARK:          Well, I’m sorry I don’t get to do my duty with those committees. I’m on the Chamber of Commerce committees with the farm committees, but it’s just a problem to get in there.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s right, with a rural store you have, your hours are the people’s hours.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You don’t close – open and close with a regular time.


CLARK:          Now Mrs. Oberschmidt with the wage and hour law and all the government reports, it’s just a problem to know where you are.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Almost rather not hire somebody – have it done – than go through all the rigamarole to do it.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Well, of course, we know that the wage and hour law is good for the majority, but the “little guy” – it’s really tough on him.


CLARK:          That’s right. Now the, now even the small storeowner – you take Mr. Gunnell over here. He does his own work and he makes good money there. He told me a few days ago what he cleared last year and it was almost unbelievable. But where you’ve got to hire help and keep all your records, and I mean keep them right – you never know when the IRS is going to check you now. It’s gotten where now, if you’re checked and you don’t have a CPA – Certified Public Accountant – to defend you, you’re almost lost.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Right. I know.


CLARK;          We have people here that could make out a report, but I don’t load them down with the responsibility because…


OBERSCHMIDT:      When my husband died, I had to keep all of our records for ten years.


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      …and still I held my breath, although I knew I was not doing anything dishonest, or at least, my accountant didn’t think I was. But still, I didn’t want to pay any more than I had to, because after all, he had earned it and I deserved to keep all I could.


CLARK:          Well, I’ve – we have corporations here now to – if after I’m gone, if they want to carry on with it, it will be better than to handle stocks, rather than intangible property, and if they want to carry on, but now that’s…


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s up to your children.


CLARK:          You never know how that will turn out.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s right. Well, none of them are nearby.


CLARK:          Well, our daughter that married the preacher – he’s been in Miami now about fourteen years – pastor of a big church there – but they like to have lost it. In fact, they did lose all they had, you might say. (Are you recording? Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this.)


OBERSCHMIDT:      That’s alright. We’ll delete it if you don’t want it.


CLARK:          Well, one day, he was pastor of an intercity church and they wanted to – the congregation was about thirty-six hundred members – wanted to build a church outside the city. And they made all the arrangements, bought one hundred fifty-five acres in what they called West State property; had a company in New York to handle the church bonds and everything; and they went into bankruptcy after they had gotten all this and all mixed up, and they lost what they had down there. They’re living in Brookhaven now.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Yes, I know. Your daughter is in the King’s Daughters with me.


CLARK:          He’s managing McComb Equipment and he does some work, some preaching most every Sunday. I believe he preached in Brookhaven Church some.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Right. He’s really good. I’ve heard him and enjoyed him.


CLARK:          But it’s – I don’t know. You can’t never tell. The Lord works in various ways. Maybe that’s the Lord’s will, but…


OBERSCHMIDT:      Right. It’s good that he’ll accept it that way, too.


CLARK:          Right. It’s good – he may – in fact he’s needed here too.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Right.


CLARK:          I tell him that I certainly don’t want him to not do the Lord’s will about whatever he does.


OBERSCHMIDT:      He may want to buy your place then after you retire.


CLARK:          Well, it’s possible. In fact, I need to retire now.


OBERSCHMIDT:      It doesn’t look like when you are working for yourself you ever can though, does it?


CLARK:          That’s right.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You didn’t know antidotes or any kind of medicinal things that they used in that day like herbs or anything from the woods that the old folks used for medicine.


CLARK:          Well, I’ve heard my grandmother – both my grandmothers talked about when they smoked their long stone pipe that stood way out. [Measured approximately a foot long.]  I’d have to light that for them.


OBERSCHMIDT:      That was fun, wasn’t it?


CLARK:          Yes, I heard my Grandmother Greer talk about the cavalry was here and she was just scared. In fact, her husband, my grandfather, came to bring a sick soldier home and he never did go back. He hid out.


OBERSCHMIDT:      I don’t blame him.


CLARK:          I’ve heard him tell this. When she heard a noise outside here at night, she thought it was some of the Yankee soldiers there watching for him. She took her shotgun and was just trembling with that gun. She says, “If you don’t shoot, I’ll speak!”


OBERSCHMIDT:      “If you don’t shoot, I’ll speak!” – that’s cute. Was that your father?


CLARK:          No, that was my Grandmother Greer, my mother’s mother.


OBERSCHMIDT:      No. I mean the person that was there that she was going to shoot or speak to?


CLARK:          It turned out it wasn’t anybody that she knew about. She heard a noise out there and she thought it was a Yankee soldier out there trying to catch her.


OBERSCHMIDT:      They went through some terrible things.


CLARK:          Really did.


OBERSCHMIDT:      You were in the Farm Bureau. Were you in the organization of that?


CLARK:          Yes, ma’am. I helped organize it. In fact, I was on the committee for a while. But I had so many other things too. I was postmaster here for a long time. Excuse me, bumped my foot. I was pretty well tied up with that. Of course, I had pretty good help, but some of it I just had to – couldn’t get at any of my duties as I should and I got off of it.


OBERSCHMIDT:      How was that started here? What was the need that brought about the organization of the Farm Bureau?


CLARK:          Well, it was for the good of the farmer, you know. They – my brother over at the Brookhaven Equipment Company – they sell tires and tubes and the like to the farmer at almost cost. There’s quite a bit of – and the – in this insurance – life insurance, life insurance and all that is much cheaper there than from most of the insurance companies.


OBERSCHMIDT:      Commercial makes too big a profit on the farmer.


CLARK:          That’s right.


[End of tape. Someone came in.]

Ruth Community (Lincoln County, MS), Farming, Cotton Gin.
Interview Date
Interviewed by
Mrs. Frances M. Oberschmidt