Southern Appalachian Digital Collections

Western Carolina University (21) View all

Interview with Odell Wolfe

items 1 of 2 items
Item
?

Item’s are ‘child’ level descriptions to ‘parent’ objects, (e.g. one page of a whole book).

  • Odell Wolfe remembers the three years he lived in Fontana Village while he was a student and his dad worked on the Fontana Dam project, and how it differed from other dam projects that his father had worked on in that everyone lived very close to each other rather than renting a home in the surrounding area, as they did on other projects. He also talks about the changes he noticed in the Village after the dam contstruction was over and coming to the Dam Kids reunions years later.
  • TRANSCRIPT: ODELL WOLFE Interviewee: OW ODELL WOLFE Interviewer: DN Dustin Norris Interview Date: October 17, 2014 Location: Fontana Dam, NC Length: 35:06 START OF INTERVIEW Dustin Norris: I guess we'll start. If you can just state your name and say if we can have your consent to use the interview. Odell Wolfe: Okay. I'm Odell Wolfe, I was a student over here at Fontana back during the time it was being built. And I give-what's your name? DN: Dustin. OW: I give Dustin permission to record this and write it down. It's about some experiences I had when I was here from 1942 to the middle of '45. DN: That's when you lived here? OW: Well we moved here in the fall of' 42, just about time school started, and we stayed till, I'd say, August of '45. DN: Okay. Did you or maybe one of your family members work on the dam in some way? OW: My daddy did, yeah. DN: What did he do? OW: He was a carpenter. Odell Wolfe 2 DN: Okay. And did y'all travel around with the TVA? OW: Well daddy followed them for about 25 years, yeah. We went to two or three other dams after we left this one. He worked on Watauga Dam, worked on South Holston Dam, and he worked on ... Ahhhh. I can't think of that one there. Within twenty miles of the house. I'll think of it in a little bit. DN: (chuckles) Alright. That'll be alright. So what are some ofyour earliest memories of being around here? OW: Well, when I moved here I was just fifteen years old, wasn't hardly fifteen. And I'd never lived in a village like this, we'd always rent a house half a mile out in the country or two miles out. But here we' s just all jammed together and everybody was more or less on the same side of the street, you know? Didn't have a bad side or people on the other side of the tracks. Everybody was on the same side of the tracks. We all got along good. We had something going about every day and night, I mean we just stayed busy all the time. If we didn't have a ball game, we's maybe at a movie, or had dancing on Friday nights in the auditorium. We just had a good time down here, didn't realize how good we had it till we moved out. DN: So when you moved where did you go? OW: We went to Kingsport, Tennessee. DN: Okay. And what did you end up doing for your work? OW: I didn't go to work till1948. I worked over at Elizabethton at Watauga Dam. I worked on a road crew there for a while and then I got in a machine shop. I was, what you say, a machinist's helper. I'd do whatever he wanted me to do. DN: When did you come back to Fontana? Odell Wolfe 3 OW: The first time? I'd say it was about '49. '48 or '49. Me and my brother and another friend, we took my daddy down, way down in the country, to work on a mound at Salina, Tennessee. Me and my brother and my friend, we detoured and come around by Fontana, spent the night. DN: What kind of things did you notice had changed after the dam construction was finished? OW: Well, I really-they started tearing down the little small buildings, they were like house trailers. And it wasn't no time and they's about all gone, within five years I'd say. And in the last few years they've started tearing down the houses. The house we lived in on Welch Road wasn't there the last time I was here and that was 2012. No it was 2011, I missed' 12 and' 13. DN: Okay. So you've been coming to the reunions since- OW: Well I missed two times, '12 and '13. I wasn't there for either one ofthem, I wasn't able. I was sick in the hospital and nursing home and all that kind of stuff. So I finally decided I'd try to come back and tell everybody bye. I don't think I'll see them again. I'm 86 years old. DN: Really? OW: Yeah. DN: Well we're glad you're here. OW: Well, I just had to come back one more time. DN: Telling them stories like you were telling up there? You want to tell that one over again? About the- OW: Bootlegging? Odell Wolfe 4 DN: Yeah. OW: Well, across before the dam started backing up water up the river there, about a mile from the dam or maybe a little further, there was a house or two on in there. They had two or three boats tied up along the river there. They's one place there that the water was pretty smooth, there wasn't a lot of rapids and stuff. So we got to going down there and there was nobody around, we just got that boat and paddled across the river and went over there at the nigger Army camp, or I'd say colored Almy camp. They was building the road around there where the lake was going to cover up the old one. We went over there a time or two and one of them said, hey how about getting us some liquor. Said, we ain't got no liquor and ain't had none in ever so long. [laughter] So I said okay we'll try. My brother knew somebody that sold it. So I got him to get us-I think we got ... it might have been a fifth ... or a big pint or a fifth I can't remember which. But it was a pretty good bottle. Seems like we paid twelve dollars for it and we thought we'd get twenty out of it, you know? We brought it back one night, paddled across the river there at night and went in there. They always had a kind of a guard on each end of the place. We told two or three of them we had some whiskey they was wanting. But nobody had any money, everybody had done spent all their money since payday. We finally got two or three of them to pool their money together and we just got our money back out of it. [laughter] Yeah that was something. I just thought. .. [laughing] If the law would have caught us we'd have been in jail. DN: You may have. Oh Lord ... [pause] Coming back now, what are the biggest changes you see? Odell Wolfe OW: The landscape and everything is just all-like that house that we lived in, they's a big old rock in the yard about as big as this table and that was all other than grass. And there was a while there, this was before we started having reunions, I hadn't been over here in about twenty years. And I come back and here's this big old tree right there in the yard, you know, growing up. It was hard to believe. And the house down below me had one right up next to the house. Big suckers, up forty, fifty feet high. I just couldn't hardly believe they'd grow that fast, but they did. But we've been coming back every year except '13 and '12. Started having reunions in '86. DN: Did you go to that first one? OW: Yeah. It was something else. Guys I hadn't seen in forty years. And there was a bunch of us, there must've been over a hundred. I thought I was in heaven. [laughter] Yeah, that was really something. DN: Well, what kind ofthings did y'all reminisce about over all these years, meeting back up? 5 OW: I don't know we was kind of glad to see each other, trying to catch up on what each one had been doing. How many of them had married and had kids and so forth. So we had a pretty good time, that first reunion. I mean it was something else, everywhere you'd go you'd see somebody you hadn't seen in forty years. Over forty years. So it's been something else ever-I look forward to it every year, to come back you know. DN: How do you view the village today? 0 W: Well, I ain't got to see any of it, I just got here. [laughter] DN: [laughing] You just got here? Odell Wolfe 0 W: Yeah we just got checked in. And come down here to get Doris to get our tags and I haven't really been around any since I was here this time. It's been three years since I've been here. I don't know they may have- DN: What'd you think of it three years ago, then? OW: I was kind of sad, the house we lived in they had tom it down. [laughter] 731 Welch Road, just up the street there a little ways. But we had some good times, we really did. I didn't realize how good we had it till I moved away. And the next day I began to miss it, and I'd give my right arm just to go back and relive it. That's just the way I felt about it. DN: You know a lot of people come out here on vacation with their families and things. Do you think they still get the kind of experience that you lived? 6 OW: No I don't think so, not onjust vacation. You'd have to live here a while and go to school and participate in all the activity that's going on. We had a softball court down here and had a tennis court. We'd go over at the village, which is about three miles over, it's all tom down now. Go over there and roller skate or see a movie. Just a lot of difference. They had a revival over there in the auditorium where they had all the movies, and I was saved there at that revival. I was just fifteen years old, and I'll never forget that. DN: So was there more than one church around here? OW: They had one church and it was Episcopalian, which is a branch of the Catholic. And my mother was a strong Baptist, and there wasn't no way we was going to be affiliated with that church. So when they had the revival, we had to go every night they had it over there. DN: So it was a Baptist revival? Odell Wolfe OW: Well, I don't-he didn't say who-he was just a protestant preacher. And best I can remember he brought a real good message, my mother thought he did too. But there wasn't no way we was going to join up with that Episcopalian church. [laughter] DN: [laughter] Ohman. [pause] Do you think the TVA is seen differently now? OW: Yeah. Yeah, I do really. DN: What's changed about that? 7 OW: They let-when they got through with this-they let some corporation just come in here and take over the village. And that wasn't no good at all. They let it run down, you know. Wouldn't put roofs on the houses that needed it and just let them rot down. It was kind of sickening to come back here and see all the houses in bad shape that was. Most of them are gone now. They've got some new houses been built in the last twenty years, but it's kind of sickening. And we had a big grocery store down there and we had a drug store, and a bank and a post office. That drug store was just busy all the time. [laughing] We'd ride in there ... [pause] I guess we all go through life differently, most of us do. But if you'd have been here you would have enjoyed it. I don't know of anybody that lived here and went to school here that didn't say I wish we was back up here. [laughter] DN: Yeah I've been up here five years now, not here, but in the mountains. OW: Do you stay for any length of time or what? DN: Yeah I'm at the school over at Western Carolina. So I've been living up there in Sylva. But yeah it's beautiful up here. [pause] You think all the tourism is good for the area though? OW: I'd say it is. I'd say they take in quite a bit of money from the tourists here. Odell Wolfe DN: Built this big lodge and everything. OW: Yeah. You know they do, they wouldn't have been in business long ifthey hadn't. DN: Do you think that became associated with the TVA is that they ended up providing all these outdoor-like the lakes and things that people use for- 8 OW: Recreation and fishing and whatever, you know, boat riding. A lot of people like to go to the lake when it gets warm. No matter where it's at if it's a good size lake they like to go. DN: I've heard tell of the bass fishing up in Fontana here. OW: Yeah they say it's good. I never was much for fishing. DN: Y'all didn't do much of that around here? OW: I didn't, no. Some of the boys did but I always had a wet butt and a hung1y gut when I left. [laughter] DN: That's about like most of my fishing trips. OW: Yeah I didn't really enjoy it so I just quit trying. My daddy liked to fish a little bit. But when he was working-a lot of times they'd work seven days a week. Every day there for a while, because of the rush to get it built for power for Oakridge and the aluminum plants over there. They needed the power. I'd say for two years daddy worked every day, all week long. And about everybody did, I mean it was-kind of more or less expected of them. DN: Is that something you'd say was part of the legacy of that generation of people that lived around here? Odell Wolfe 9 OW: Well, I'm kind oflike-you hear about guys that fought in the Army and the Navy. And how people had to struggle with food stamps, gas stamps, and had do without a lot of stuff. But they made it through and there's an old saying, that was the greatest generation we've had, in a long time. Because nowadays-well, when we lived here we'd never lock the doors. Never locked the doors, I don't know if it even had a lock on it or not. I can't remember. But you don't leave your door unlocked now. DN: I think mine might be unlocked right now. Now that I'm thinking of it. [laughter] OW: But I think people back then had more respect for each other. I really do. I was born in Texas in 1928. On the desert plains of west Texas, and it was hard to make a living. My daddy was trying to farm, he was raising cotton. And about '29 or '30, they had a bad season, drought. Well, the banks talked him into borrowing more money and buying more equipment, putting out a bigger crop and all that stuff. The next year was worse. So about the third year of that, why, he decided he'd had enough of it. He talked to his family back home in Savannah, Tennessee, which is a poor part of the state in my notion. But they told him, you know there was a little work there if he wanted to come back. So we moved back to Tennessee up where he was raised. And through-'30 through '35 I went hungry a lot of times. A lot of times I didn't have what I wanted to eat and we lived under poor conditions. We didn't even have a wagon or a buggy like a lot of people had. If you went anywhere you walked. You had to just about raise everything you'd eat. It was really hard times. I remember it, when I was a kid about six, seven years old, eight years old. Finally, daddy got on TVA down there at Pickwick Dam and started making some money. We moved to Alabama and was there two years, moved to west- Odell Wolfe middle Tennessee down at Spring City, we was down there a year. We moved to Jefferson City, we was there about two years. Moved to a little town called Piedmont, was there about a year and then we moved to Greenback, Tennessee. Now daddy was working at Fontana when we was living at two places other than here. We had to move because they sold the house and we had to get out. [laughter] DN: They sold your house here? 10 OW: No at Greenback they did, and at Piedmont they sold the house and we had to move. But daddy started working for Fontana when we lived at Piedmont. And then we moved to Greenback and we lived there just about a year before we got a house that we could move in over here. But what I'm trying to tell you is, I was brought up hard, I really was. I think I was, I had to do without a lot of things. And I just thank the good Lord that he's been as good to me as he has. I've got five children. How old are you? DN: Twenty three. OW: Well you're just still wet behind the ears. My youngest kid's forty four. [laughter] DN: What about grandkids? OW: I've got 5. And I've got one great grandchild. DN: Really? Well, do any of your young'uns come with you to these reunions? OW: Well they have, my daughter and her two sons has been over here with us a time or two. One time just one of the sons come with me because Bee couldn't come. She had some of her relatives was coming into town so me and my oldest grandson came over here together. He had a ball over here. He sat there the other night, said, boy I wish I could get back over there. He's working, he has to work twelve hour shifts. He'll work Odell Wolfe about six and he' 11 be off about five. Yeah, I've never seen such shifts as he's got. He goes to work tonight at six o'clock and he won't get offtill six o'clock in the morning. DN: My brother does-my brother's a deputy sheriff, he has a similar schedule. Nights and days. OW: That's the same way Tennessee Eastman, they have these crazy schedules. 11 This company he works for does work for Eastman, he's working right there at the plant in Eastman. But he's working for a different company, not working for Eastman. He's twenty two. No, twenty four. The youngest grandson is twenty two. The one that's twenty four is the one that's got the little three year old boy. And boy he's something. [laughter] Yeah he's something. Well, I told you about all I know I guess. DN: Yeah I reckon. What do you think's in the future for Fontana Village, if you've got any idea? OW: No I hope they'll improve things around here a little bit. DN: Improve what? OW: Well some of the houses is very run down. I don't know what they look like-I ain't been over here in three years. But I'd like to see something-! think square dancing is the biggest things that comes in here other than just visitors or tourists. But they could get a lot going here if they'd spend a little money. They could make money if they spend a little. You got to have money to make money. [laughter] DN: Yeah, I'm finding that out. OW: You got to have money to make money. DN: Is there anything you'd like to add that you didn't get to talk about? Odell Wolfe OW: I could tell you about a time me and a boy went camping? It'd be pretty interesting. DN: Well yeah lets here that one. 12 OW: There was a bunch of boys scouts was going to go up on Thunderhead Mountain, which is about ten miles from here. Me and him decided-they'd left like two days earlier and we decided we'd go up there and join them. We got an old boy to take us in a car down ... I forget the name of that little old-maybe it was Proctor or something like that. They had an old store building there and they had these carbide lights that you put on your head like miners wear. So we bought us one of them a piece and some carbide. [laughter] And we started walking up the road towards the mountain and this fellow come along in a big old truck. It was an old truck. And he picked us up, he didn't get a hundred yards and the tie rod end fell off of it. It flipped like that in the ditch, didn't hurt nobody. He got down under there and put the tie rod end back on and we went on up the road. He was the caretaker for a big house up there that S. H. Cress-Cress's department store-he had a summer horne up there. And he had this guy staying there taking care of it for him. So he took us on up there and we slept in his bam that night, he didn't want us sleeping in the beds because he'd have to wash the sheets and make them up again. [laughter] So we slept in the bam that night, got up the next morning and there was a big snake skin laying there. DN: Ohno. OW: [laughing] Yeah I don't think it was a rattlesnake or-we couldn't figure out what kind it was. But anyhow, we got up the next morning and hung around there a Odell Wolfe 13 while. He had a-I' d say a thirty gallon keg sitting over next to the wall with a spigot on it. And he had red liquor in it. DN: Red liquor? OW: Yeah I don't know what kind, whether it was moonshine or what he'd bought. But he took a cup and poured us out some. I just kind of tasted mine, I didn't like it, but old Norman he drank his pretty good. [laughter] And he got to showing us his guns, he had two or three big high powered guns, we got to shoot them at an old rock down the street. We hung around there about an hour or two and we decided we'd better get on up the mountain. And we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and the trail just about played plum out. We crossed two or three branches on the way up there, it was an old logging trail or something. And we come to this place in the mountain where it was just like saddle, it rolled all on this end and turned up on the other end. Had that big high grass in there and you look around and you'd see big places where the grass had wallowed down. Bears had been laying in there. There was several places where the bears had wallowed. So we was trying to find them boy scouts and couldn't find them. Old Norman climbed up in a tree and hollered and done everything ... [laughter]. So we decided we'd come back off the mountain. And we just about run down that mountain. We got down there to the bottom where there was a spring-little spring and branch like-so we decided we'd stop there and fix our supper, meal. It got dark before we got through, and no matter which way you looked you could see eyes. Yeah I don't know what they was. We figured it might have been possums or coons or--could have been, you know, wildcats or something. But they smelled us cooking and they come to check it out. We grabbed up everything and got out of there in hurry. [laughter] Odell Wolfe 14 DN: Oh yeah, I would have too. OW: Well we hiked down the trail there for, I guess, a couple of miles and we come to where there was an old saw mill, a big old saw dust pile there. We thought, well that'd be a good place to put our bed rolls down and sleep. We didn't much more get in the bed, the daggum gnats just started eating us up. [laughter] We had to pull the cover over our head to keep the gnats from eating us. About two or three o'clock in the morning it started raining. We just got up and grabbed up our stuff and started walking down the road. [laughter] And we got back down there to the big road, and we hadn't much more than got on that, that old man in his truck come by and picked us up, took us back down there to the store building. DN: The same old man? OW: Yeah the same old man. And we hiked from there towards Fontana and got on-we was across the river, on the other side of the river. And we got there ... it was getting kind of late in the evening and they had post-police guards, little old stand down there they kept a policeman in where he could get out of the weather, you know. We went down there and talked to him and he said, well yeah they'd take us through the tunnel back to the other side of the river. So that's what they done. And we hiked on in, then, to the house and boy I was dead. [laughter] DN: Ohman. I bet, no sleep? OW: No sleep to speak of really. But that was one more weird camping trip. Like I told them in school-teacher wanted me to get up and tell what we done. I said, when we got up there on that bald with the big grass, I said it was thick as the hairs on a dog's Odell Wolfe back. [laughter] So they thought that was pretty good. No I'll never forget that. Never. Well that's about all I know to tell you fellow. DN: Well I appreciate you doing that much. That's good. OW: I know-I had a good time when I was here, and I really missed it when I moved away. Sure did. So I think I'll call it quits. DN: Alright, well I appreciate it. You enjoy yourselftoday. OW: Ifl canjust get to see some of my old friends I'll be happy. I'll be happy. Doris is one of them. [inaudible] DN: Alright. OW: You have a good day. DN: Yes sir, thank you. END OF INTERVIEW Transcribed by Dustin Norris, October 21, 2014. 15
Object
?

Object’s are ‘parent’ level descriptions to ‘children’ items, (e.g. a book with pages).

  • Odell Wolfe remembers the three years he lived in Fontana Village while he was a student and his dad worked on the Fontana Dam project, and how it differed from other dam projects that his father had worked on in that everyone lived very close to each other rather than renting a home in the surrounding area, as they did on other projects. He also talks about the changes he noticed in the Village after the dam contstruction was over and coming to the Dam Kids reunions years later.
  • TRANSCRIPT: ODELL WOLFE Interviewee: OW ODELL WOLFE Interviewer: DN Dustin Norris Interview Date: October 17, 2014 Location: Fontana Dam, NC Length: 35:06 START OF INTERVIEW Dustin Norris: I guess we'll start. If you can just state your name and say if we can have your consent to use the interview. Odell Wolfe: Okay. I'm Odell Wolfe, I was a student over here at Fontana back during the time it was being built. And I give-what's your name? DN: Dustin. OW: I give Dustin permission to record this and write it down. It's about some experiences I had when I was here from 1942 to the middle of '45. DN: That's when you lived here? OW: Well we moved here in the fall of' 42, just about time school started, and we stayed till, I'd say, August of '45. DN: Okay. Did you or maybe one of your family members work on the dam in some way? OW: My daddy did, yeah. DN: What did he do? OW: He was a carpenter. Odell Wolfe 2 DN: Okay. And did y'all travel around with the TVA? OW: Well daddy followed them for about 25 years, yeah. We went to two or three other dams after we left this one. He worked on Watauga Dam, worked on South Holston Dam, and he worked on ... Ahhhh. I can't think of that one there. Within twenty miles of the house. I'll think of it in a little bit. DN: (chuckles) Alright. That'll be alright. So what are some ofyour earliest memories of being around here? OW: Well, when I moved here I was just fifteen years old, wasn't hardly fifteen. And I'd never lived in a village like this, we'd always rent a house half a mile out in the country or two miles out. But here we' s just all jammed together and everybody was more or less on the same side of the street, you know? Didn't have a bad side or people on the other side of the tracks. Everybody was on the same side of the tracks. We all got along good. We had something going about every day and night, I mean we just stayed busy all the time. If we didn't have a ball game, we's maybe at a movie, or had dancing on Friday nights in the auditorium. We just had a good time down here, didn't realize how good we had it till we moved out. DN: So when you moved where did you go? OW: We went to Kingsport, Tennessee. DN: Okay. And what did you end up doing for your work? OW: I didn't go to work till1948. I worked over at Elizabethton at Watauga Dam. I worked on a road crew there for a while and then I got in a machine shop. I was, what you say, a machinist's helper. I'd do whatever he wanted me to do. DN: When did you come back to Fontana? Odell Wolfe 3 OW: The first time? I'd say it was about '49. '48 or '49. Me and my brother and another friend, we took my daddy down, way down in the country, to work on a mound at Salina, Tennessee. Me and my brother and my friend, we detoured and come around by Fontana, spent the night. DN: What kind of things did you notice had changed after the dam construction was finished? OW: Well, I really-they started tearing down the little small buildings, they were like house trailers. And it wasn't no time and they's about all gone, within five years I'd say. And in the last few years they've started tearing down the houses. The house we lived in on Welch Road wasn't there the last time I was here and that was 2012. No it was 2011, I missed' 12 and' 13. DN: Okay. So you've been coming to the reunions since- OW: Well I missed two times, '12 and '13. I wasn't there for either one ofthem, I wasn't able. I was sick in the hospital and nursing home and all that kind of stuff. So I finally decided I'd try to come back and tell everybody bye. I don't think I'll see them again. I'm 86 years old. DN: Really? OW: Yeah. DN: Well we're glad you're here. OW: Well, I just had to come back one more time. DN: Telling them stories like you were telling up there? You want to tell that one over again? About the- OW: Bootlegging? Odell Wolfe 4 DN: Yeah. OW: Well, across before the dam started backing up water up the river there, about a mile from the dam or maybe a little further, there was a house or two on in there. They had two or three boats tied up along the river there. They's one place there that the water was pretty smooth, there wasn't a lot of rapids and stuff. So we got to going down there and there was nobody around, we just got that boat and paddled across the river and went over there at the nigger Army camp, or I'd say colored Almy camp. They was building the road around there where the lake was going to cover up the old one. We went over there a time or two and one of them said, hey how about getting us some liquor. Said, we ain't got no liquor and ain't had none in ever so long. [laughter] So I said okay we'll try. My brother knew somebody that sold it. So I got him to get us-I think we got ... it might have been a fifth ... or a big pint or a fifth I can't remember which. But it was a pretty good bottle. Seems like we paid twelve dollars for it and we thought we'd get twenty out of it, you know? We brought it back one night, paddled across the river there at night and went in there. They always had a kind of a guard on each end of the place. We told two or three of them we had some whiskey they was wanting. But nobody had any money, everybody had done spent all their money since payday. We finally got two or three of them to pool their money together and we just got our money back out of it. [laughter] Yeah that was something. I just thought. .. [laughing] If the law would have caught us we'd have been in jail. DN: You may have. Oh Lord ... [pause] Coming back now, what are the biggest changes you see? Odell Wolfe OW: The landscape and everything is just all-like that house that we lived in, they's a big old rock in the yard about as big as this table and that was all other than grass. And there was a while there, this was before we started having reunions, I hadn't been over here in about twenty years. And I come back and here's this big old tree right there in the yard, you know, growing up. It was hard to believe. And the house down below me had one right up next to the house. Big suckers, up forty, fifty feet high. I just couldn't hardly believe they'd grow that fast, but they did. But we've been coming back every year except '13 and '12. Started having reunions in '86. DN: Did you go to that first one? OW: Yeah. It was something else. Guys I hadn't seen in forty years. And there was a bunch of us, there must've been over a hundred. I thought I was in heaven. [laughter] Yeah, that was really something. DN: Well, what kind ofthings did y'all reminisce about over all these years, meeting back up? 5 OW: I don't know we was kind of glad to see each other, trying to catch up on what each one had been doing. How many of them had married and had kids and so forth. So we had a pretty good time, that first reunion. I mean it was something else, everywhere you'd go you'd see somebody you hadn't seen in forty years. Over forty years. So it's been something else ever-I look forward to it every year, to come back you know. DN: How do you view the village today? 0 W: Well, I ain't got to see any of it, I just got here. [laughter] DN: [laughing] You just got here? Odell Wolfe 0 W: Yeah we just got checked in. And come down here to get Doris to get our tags and I haven't really been around any since I was here this time. It's been three years since I've been here. I don't know they may have- DN: What'd you think of it three years ago, then? OW: I was kind of sad, the house we lived in they had tom it down. [laughter] 731 Welch Road, just up the street there a little ways. But we had some good times, we really did. I didn't realize how good we had it till I moved away. And the next day I began to miss it, and I'd give my right arm just to go back and relive it. That's just the way I felt about it. DN: You know a lot of people come out here on vacation with their families and things. Do you think they still get the kind of experience that you lived? 6 OW: No I don't think so, not onjust vacation. You'd have to live here a while and go to school and participate in all the activity that's going on. We had a softball court down here and had a tennis court. We'd go over at the village, which is about three miles over, it's all tom down now. Go over there and roller skate or see a movie. Just a lot of difference. They had a revival over there in the auditorium where they had all the movies, and I was saved there at that revival. I was just fifteen years old, and I'll never forget that. DN: So was there more than one church around here? OW: They had one church and it was Episcopalian, which is a branch of the Catholic. And my mother was a strong Baptist, and there wasn't no way we was going to be affiliated with that church. So when they had the revival, we had to go every night they had it over there. DN: So it was a Baptist revival? Odell Wolfe OW: Well, I don't-he didn't say who-he was just a protestant preacher. And best I can remember he brought a real good message, my mother thought he did too. But there wasn't no way we was going to join up with that Episcopalian church. [laughter] DN: [laughter] Ohman. [pause] Do you think the TVA is seen differently now? OW: Yeah. Yeah, I do really. DN: What's changed about that? 7 OW: They let-when they got through with this-they let some corporation just come in here and take over the village. And that wasn't no good at all. They let it run down, you know. Wouldn't put roofs on the houses that needed it and just let them rot down. It was kind of sickening to come back here and see all the houses in bad shape that was. Most of them are gone now. They've got some new houses been built in the last twenty years, but it's kind of sickening. And we had a big grocery store down there and we had a drug store, and a bank and a post office. That drug store was just busy all the time. [laughing] We'd ride in there ... [pause] I guess we all go through life differently, most of us do. But if you'd have been here you would have enjoyed it. I don't know of anybody that lived here and went to school here that didn't say I wish we was back up here. [laughter] DN: Yeah I've been up here five years now, not here, but in the mountains. OW: Do you stay for any length of time or what? DN: Yeah I'm at the school over at Western Carolina. So I've been living up there in Sylva. But yeah it's beautiful up here. [pause] You think all the tourism is good for the area though? OW: I'd say it is. I'd say they take in quite a bit of money from the tourists here. Odell Wolfe DN: Built this big lodge and everything. OW: Yeah. You know they do, they wouldn't have been in business long ifthey hadn't. DN: Do you think that became associated with the TVA is that they ended up providing all these outdoor-like the lakes and things that people use for- 8 OW: Recreation and fishing and whatever, you know, boat riding. A lot of people like to go to the lake when it gets warm. No matter where it's at if it's a good size lake they like to go. DN: I've heard tell of the bass fishing up in Fontana here. OW: Yeah they say it's good. I never was much for fishing. DN: Y'all didn't do much of that around here? OW: I didn't, no. Some of the boys did but I always had a wet butt and a hung1y gut when I left. [laughter] DN: That's about like most of my fishing trips. OW: Yeah I didn't really enjoy it so I just quit trying. My daddy liked to fish a little bit. But when he was working-a lot of times they'd work seven days a week. Every day there for a while, because of the rush to get it built for power for Oakridge and the aluminum plants over there. They needed the power. I'd say for two years daddy worked every day, all week long. And about everybody did, I mean it was-kind of more or less expected of them. DN: Is that something you'd say was part of the legacy of that generation of people that lived around here? Odell Wolfe 9 OW: Well, I'm kind oflike-you hear about guys that fought in the Army and the Navy. And how people had to struggle with food stamps, gas stamps, and had do without a lot of stuff. But they made it through and there's an old saying, that was the greatest generation we've had, in a long time. Because nowadays-well, when we lived here we'd never lock the doors. Never locked the doors, I don't know if it even had a lock on it or not. I can't remember. But you don't leave your door unlocked now. DN: I think mine might be unlocked right now. Now that I'm thinking of it. [laughter] OW: But I think people back then had more respect for each other. I really do. I was born in Texas in 1928. On the desert plains of west Texas, and it was hard to make a living. My daddy was trying to farm, he was raising cotton. And about '29 or '30, they had a bad season, drought. Well, the banks talked him into borrowing more money and buying more equipment, putting out a bigger crop and all that stuff. The next year was worse. So about the third year of that, why, he decided he'd had enough of it. He talked to his family back home in Savannah, Tennessee, which is a poor part of the state in my notion. But they told him, you know there was a little work there if he wanted to come back. So we moved back to Tennessee up where he was raised. And through-'30 through '35 I went hungry a lot of times. A lot of times I didn't have what I wanted to eat and we lived under poor conditions. We didn't even have a wagon or a buggy like a lot of people had. If you went anywhere you walked. You had to just about raise everything you'd eat. It was really hard times. I remember it, when I was a kid about six, seven years old, eight years old. Finally, daddy got on TVA down there at Pickwick Dam and started making some money. We moved to Alabama and was there two years, moved to west- Odell Wolfe middle Tennessee down at Spring City, we was down there a year. We moved to Jefferson City, we was there about two years. Moved to a little town called Piedmont, was there about a year and then we moved to Greenback, Tennessee. Now daddy was working at Fontana when we was living at two places other than here. We had to move because they sold the house and we had to get out. [laughter] DN: They sold your house here? 10 OW: No at Greenback they did, and at Piedmont they sold the house and we had to move. But daddy started working for Fontana when we lived at Piedmont. And then we moved to Greenback and we lived there just about a year before we got a house that we could move in over here. But what I'm trying to tell you is, I was brought up hard, I really was. I think I was, I had to do without a lot of things. And I just thank the good Lord that he's been as good to me as he has. I've got five children. How old are you? DN: Twenty three. OW: Well you're just still wet behind the ears. My youngest kid's forty four. [laughter] DN: What about grandkids? OW: I've got 5. And I've got one great grandchild. DN: Really? Well, do any of your young'uns come with you to these reunions? OW: Well they have, my daughter and her two sons has been over here with us a time or two. One time just one of the sons come with me because Bee couldn't come. She had some of her relatives was coming into town so me and my oldest grandson came over here together. He had a ball over here. He sat there the other night, said, boy I wish I could get back over there. He's working, he has to work twelve hour shifts. He'll work Odell Wolfe about six and he' 11 be off about five. Yeah, I've never seen such shifts as he's got. He goes to work tonight at six o'clock and he won't get offtill six o'clock in the morning. DN: My brother does-my brother's a deputy sheriff, he has a similar schedule. Nights and days. OW: That's the same way Tennessee Eastman, they have these crazy schedules. 11 This company he works for does work for Eastman, he's working right there at the plant in Eastman. But he's working for a different company, not working for Eastman. He's twenty two. No, twenty four. The youngest grandson is twenty two. The one that's twenty four is the one that's got the little three year old boy. And boy he's something. [laughter] Yeah he's something. Well, I told you about all I know I guess. DN: Yeah I reckon. What do you think's in the future for Fontana Village, if you've got any idea? OW: No I hope they'll improve things around here a little bit. DN: Improve what? OW: Well some of the houses is very run down. I don't know what they look like-I ain't been over here in three years. But I'd like to see something-! think square dancing is the biggest things that comes in here other than just visitors or tourists. But they could get a lot going here if they'd spend a little money. They could make money if they spend a little. You got to have money to make money. [laughter] DN: Yeah, I'm finding that out. OW: You got to have money to make money. DN: Is there anything you'd like to add that you didn't get to talk about? Odell Wolfe OW: I could tell you about a time me and a boy went camping? It'd be pretty interesting. DN: Well yeah lets here that one. 12 OW: There was a bunch of boys scouts was going to go up on Thunderhead Mountain, which is about ten miles from here. Me and him decided-they'd left like two days earlier and we decided we'd go up there and join them. We got an old boy to take us in a car down ... I forget the name of that little old-maybe it was Proctor or something like that. They had an old store building there and they had these carbide lights that you put on your head like miners wear. So we bought us one of them a piece and some carbide. [laughter] And we started walking up the road towards the mountain and this fellow come along in a big old truck. It was an old truck. And he picked us up, he didn't get a hundred yards and the tie rod end fell off of it. It flipped like that in the ditch, didn't hurt nobody. He got down under there and put the tie rod end back on and we went on up the road. He was the caretaker for a big house up there that S. H. Cress-Cress's department store-he had a summer horne up there. And he had this guy staying there taking care of it for him. So he took us on up there and we slept in his bam that night, he didn't want us sleeping in the beds because he'd have to wash the sheets and make them up again. [laughter] So we slept in the bam that night, got up the next morning and there was a big snake skin laying there. DN: Ohno. OW: [laughing] Yeah I don't think it was a rattlesnake or-we couldn't figure out what kind it was. But anyhow, we got up the next morning and hung around there a Odell Wolfe 13 while. He had a-I' d say a thirty gallon keg sitting over next to the wall with a spigot on it. And he had red liquor in it. DN: Red liquor? OW: Yeah I don't know what kind, whether it was moonshine or what he'd bought. But he took a cup and poured us out some. I just kind of tasted mine, I didn't like it, but old Norman he drank his pretty good. [laughter] And he got to showing us his guns, he had two or three big high powered guns, we got to shoot them at an old rock down the street. We hung around there about an hour or two and we decided we'd better get on up the mountain. And we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and the trail just about played plum out. We crossed two or three branches on the way up there, it was an old logging trail or something. And we come to this place in the mountain where it was just like saddle, it rolled all on this end and turned up on the other end. Had that big high grass in there and you look around and you'd see big places where the grass had wallowed down. Bears had been laying in there. There was several places where the bears had wallowed. So we was trying to find them boy scouts and couldn't find them. Old Norman climbed up in a tree and hollered and done everything ... [laughter]. So we decided we'd come back off the mountain. And we just about run down that mountain. We got down there to the bottom where there was a spring-little spring and branch like-so we decided we'd stop there and fix our supper, meal. It got dark before we got through, and no matter which way you looked you could see eyes. Yeah I don't know what they was. We figured it might have been possums or coons or--could have been, you know, wildcats or something. But they smelled us cooking and they come to check it out. We grabbed up everything and got out of there in hurry. [laughter] Odell Wolfe 14 DN: Oh yeah, I would have too. OW: Well we hiked down the trail there for, I guess, a couple of miles and we come to where there was an old saw mill, a big old saw dust pile there. We thought, well that'd be a good place to put our bed rolls down and sleep. We didn't much more get in the bed, the daggum gnats just started eating us up. [laughter] We had to pull the cover over our head to keep the gnats from eating us. About two or three o'clock in the morning it started raining. We just got up and grabbed up our stuff and started walking down the road. [laughter] And we got back down there to the big road, and we hadn't much more than got on that, that old man in his truck come by and picked us up, took us back down there to the store building. DN: The same old man? OW: Yeah the same old man. And we hiked from there towards Fontana and got on-we was across the river, on the other side of the river. And we got there ... it was getting kind of late in the evening and they had post-police guards, little old stand down there they kept a policeman in where he could get out of the weather, you know. We went down there and talked to him and he said, well yeah they'd take us through the tunnel back to the other side of the river. So that's what they done. And we hiked on in, then, to the house and boy I was dead. [laughter] DN: Ohman. I bet, no sleep? OW: No sleep to speak of really. But that was one more weird camping trip. Like I told them in school-teacher wanted me to get up and tell what we done. I said, when we got up there on that bald with the big grass, I said it was thick as the hairs on a dog's Odell Wolfe back. [laughter] So they thought that was pretty good. No I'll never forget that. Never. Well that's about all I know to tell you fellow. DN: Well I appreciate you doing that much. That's good. OW: I know-I had a good time when I was here, and I really missed it when I moved away. Sure did. So I think I'll call it quits. DN: Alright, well I appreciate it. You enjoy yourselftoday. OW: Ifl canjust get to see some of my old friends I'll be happy. I'll be happy. Doris is one of them. [inaudible] DN: Alright. OW: You have a good day. DN: Yes sir, thank you. END OF INTERVIEW Transcribed by Dustin Norris, October 21, 2014. 15