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Bill Thayer

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Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Johnson

This webpage reproduces a section of
The History of Jenkins, Kentucky

published by The Jenkins Area Jaycees
Jenkins, Kentucky 1973

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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W. L. Terrill

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

G‑12 Interview with Oakie Greer

Do you remember the first place you worked?

At #2 and the foreman was Carl Mercer.

Where did you work after that?

From there I went to #7. The last place I worked was up at the tipple at Dunham.

[In talking about sports, we asked Oakie when he started playing football and who was the coach.]

I started under Coach Womack. I don't know if that was 36 or 37. I can remember Junior Hastings, Albert Morgan, Chet Mullins, Ticco, Delmer Hibbits. I played about 5 years.

What kind of a season did you have?

Well, we would win our part of them. We played at Paintsville, Van Lear, Pikeville, Fleming-Neon and we used to go to play a lot in Virginia — Norton, Big Stone Gap, Coeburn.

Who were some of the captains when you played?

[reply missing in the printed copy]

G‑13 What year did you finish up football and who was the coach?

1940, the coach was Coach Miracle. He was from over around Evarts.

Did you play any other sports?

Yes, I played basketball, tried a little of it all. We won the district one year in basketball, 1939. The coach was Lauder.

What changes have you seen in the boys and the programs, etc.?

Oh, now we pick them up and haul them around here and there, and we used to have to walk.

Where did you play football then? Was the field where it is now and what condition was it in?

It was the same field, but it was a lot different. It used to have big rocks sticking up and gullies washing down through it.

[I asked Oakie about some experiences he remembers about football, especially Jenkins and Fleming.]

I remember this one game. I believe the boy was from McRoberts, was sent down to drain the field one night after a rain, and it hadn't rained the next day and we came back in and the water was knee deep, and we had a pretty rough time. We beat them 6 to 0. I believe Albert Morgan was the one who scored. One thing that stands out in my mind was I was knocked out one night in Paintsville and didn't know a thing until I got back home.

[Oakie has been on the school board for 16 years and we asked him some questions about some of the improvements and some of the changes while he has been a board member and before and after.]

When I was going to school here, we had a lot of pot-bellied stoves and that has all been changed. In sports it seems to be at the present time that the boys don't turn out like they used to. We used to work here on Saturday and Sunday and have just as rough a ballgame, seems to me, like they did when they had their uniforms on. Our uniforms then — we had shoulder pads and knee pads, but a lot of us didn't use them. We never did have mouth pieces.

What did Goff Greer play in football?

He was what you call a quarterback now.

Who was the principal of the school and some of the teachers?

I believe the principal at that time was a fellow by the name of Price. I can remember Roger Wilson as a teacher. I went to G‑14Burdine Grade School. Lafferty was down there and there was also a Mrs. Adams.

[The following section concerns the prize fights that were held in Jenkins.] Where was the ring?

It was behind the old depot. We had a boxing match about every two weeks there and they really filled that hillside. It was outdoors. They brought in practically all the fighters and me and Goff fought there some. I think me and Goff fought about everybody they brought in.

Someone said Archie Moore came in here one time.

That's right. They would have about 500 people attending these. I believe they charged a dollar and you also got a chance on a car. They gave away a car every time they had a fight.

Did you have people to stop the fights?

No, we had doctors there and they would examine you all during the fight.

[Talking about baseball that took place in Jenkins.]

I remember the Lonesome Pine League. You had men like Earl Webb, Claude Creech and Ivan Brush. They went from there to this organized league, or D ball, which ruined baseball in Jenkins, the way I look at it.a

How did they do in the Lonesome Pine League?

Oh, they had one of the best baseball teams. Well, they could have played in the majors. I'd say they had four or five boys that had already been in the majors and come back. Earl Webb, I reckon, holds a 2‑base record right now with the Detroit Tigers. Ray Russell played with them. In my opinion, Ray was one of the best outfielders that has ever been in Jenkins. He was a long ball hitter. I've seen him hit a home run in a big poplar tree when they got in the Class D league.

Did they have any good ball players that stand out?

We had a few from around here. Ivan Brush played with them and Lee Peterson. About that time they started improving the field. They had an old grandstand that fell down about half the time you got in it.

[I asked Oakie about Little League as he has coached this for many years.]

G‑15 It didn't used to be split up like it is now. Jenkins, Burdine, Dunham and McRoberts. We really used to have some ball players. I remember, I guess the toughest game they had would be Burdine and McRoberts. Then they got to this, I guess you might say, more organized and split the teams up, threw all the names in the hat and bid them off, just like the major leagues did. A boy from McRoberts might be on the Burdine team, they called them the Braves. They didn't have a special town because we thought that would cut down on the feelings between places. We went to the state twice. Here once we went to Ashland.

Do you remember some of the boys that played pretty good during that time?

Eddie Elswick was a real ball player. Frank Hodges played ball from here. He was a real player and he was a pitcher. He played some in the Lonesome Pine League. It was just about to go out at that time.

Who were some of the teams back then?

There were a lot in Virginia — Big Stone, Norton, Appalachia.

[talking with Oakie about Walter Malick.]

I remember about punting. He was one of the greatest punters I ever seen. I remember one time in particular he was about to punt and fumbled the ball and they were rushing pretty hard and got a little bit of moving room, and he kicked one about 90 yards. He could have gone anywhere in the country. He wanted to go to U. K. or Tennessee. All of them was after him.

I asked Oakie about drop kick and asked him to explain how you do this.

You had to drop the ball in front of you and it had to hit the ground about the same time your foot hit it.

[Concerning the recreational buildings.]

All of them had what they called a recreational building and we used to have a theater upstairs and a big dance every Saturday night and the town used to be wet back then. It used to be a lively little place.

What about law enforcement?

Oh man, I guess they had a law enforcement of 10 or 15 policemen here in town. They had a little paddy wagon. Hauled them in every Saturday night and maybe two or three would go in and let off a pistol a time or two in the middle of the floor and then take off running. It wasn't too tough compared to other places.

G‑16 Did they have a railroad track up Joe's branch?

Yes, they did. They also used to have a shop at every little mine, but this center shop didn't come into effect until after we started tearing down all these other tipples and they moved into one central shop.

You mentioned that at one time you worked at the tipple and it was at that time the largest in the world. Could you tell us something about the tipple?

Well, I remember when I was working at that tipple one time, I guess we had 45 or 50 men on a shift. They got it down to 10 or 12 now operating a shift.

What do you think of the future of Jenkins?

Well, I don't know. I've heard this place is going to die for the last thirty years, and it still seems like a pretty good place to live. If this road comes in here like they said, 19 and 23, I think this place will open up — see a motel or two spring up and some more businesses.

Tell us about your family.

Well, my oldest daughter lives here in town. Annie married Tommy Brush and my next daughter is in Frankfort. She is a beautician and she has two boys. Annie has two girls. My oldest boy, Oakie, Jr., married Sandra Mabe and lives in Lexington. They have a son. Oakie, Jr. is on the police force and is still going to school at Eastern. I have one at home, William Conley (Willie).

What is your mother and dad's name?

My dad is Conley Greer. He's 73. My mother is dead.

One more thing, Oakie, what about the 4th of July Celebrations they used to have?

Oh boy, they used to be something here in this town. Climb greasy poles, chase pigs, people come from these mountains and hollows all around here. You wouldn't think they was that many people around — just all day long, boxing matches, races, anything!


Thayer's Note:

a Opinions will differ! See Ransom Jordan's.


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Page updated: 8 Dec 05