The world in which I was raised consisted of fifty-six acres of hilly terrain and plenty of trees to give a crosscut saw a good workout. This was not put to waste as my younger brother, Kenneth, and I were introduced to the working end of a crosscut as soon as we were able to use one. We rarely ever ventured far from this small world except to attend school, church services, and an occasional visit with relatives who did not live a long distance from our home. The longest distance that I recall traveling was on two or three forty mile trips to Birmingham and a school field trip from Parrish Elementary School to Florence, Alabama, our teacher being a graduate of Florence State Teachers College. I was in the band at Cordova High School my senior year of school when we made the trip to Montgomery to march and play in the inauguration of Big Jim Folsom as Governor. It was on the return trip from Montgomery that I first entered a movie theatre where we stopped in Birmingham at the Alabama Theatre to watch "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." As I viewed the bustling city with all the tall buildings, I thought that was the ultimate, as big as it gets!
As the years passed my world began to expand, the fog began to lift, and a whole new world began to emerge. I traveled with my brother-in-law and sister, L.T. and Joan Gurganus, in the summer of 1956 after my graduation from Cordova High School, to Denver Colorado where L.T. had a summer job. We stayed with Leroy and Annie Ruth (Beaird) Gurganus, and I landed a job washing dishes for Hi’s Hamburger. The high altitude caused a nose bleed almost every day, and I soon realized that washing dishes was not a good career choice, so I caught a Greyhound bus back to Walker County (money well spent). Leroy and Annie Ruth were great hosts, but one morning when Annie Ruth inquired as to what I wanted for breakfast I replied, “To eat it in Alabama.” That was the day I caught the bus headed home. I missed that little house on the dead end road in Walker County, Alabama.
My next employment was not much of an improvement as for two years I worked for Shorty Musgrove and Jim Bevell who owned Quality Poultry. I worked for two years on the chicken catching crew making sixty cents for every thousand chickens we caught. Having put my time in to help put chickens on the table, it was obvious that this, likewise, was not a good career choice. My father moved to Osceola, Arkansas, where he preached for the Church of Christ there, and I soon followed him there. Employment there was much better, as one of the church members there owned an ice cream factory and gave me a job there. After I was there at the ice cream factory for almost a year, another church member who owned a large construction company needed a truck driver and for one dollar an hour, I started driving a truck hauling building material from Memphis, Tennessee to job sites in Arkansas and Mississippi. In about another year another church member who owned a dry cleaning establishment persuaded me that I could make more money running a dry cleaning route, and I worked at this job until I decided to further my education at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas.
My small world in Walker County had started to expand and had opened up vast new horizons. It continued to expand as the summer between my freshman and sophomore years were spent counseling at Camp Hunt, a youth camp between Hubbertville and Hamilton, New York. The summer between my sophomore and junior year I worked with a church group in British Colombia, spending much of the time with a Dutch Family in Salmon Arm, British Colombia. I spent the summer between my junior and senior year attending classes at the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee, taking classes that I needed in order to graduate my senior year in Searcy. After I graduated from Harding in 1965, my verizon’s continued to broaden when I traveled to Japan where L.T. and Joan had moved in order to be missionaries there. I worked at a youth camp at the foot of Mount Fuji, and was able to climb to the top of the majestic mountain before leaving the area. I had almost reached the top of Fool’s Hill by this point in my life and now I was at the top of Fuji, two mountains conquered! My stroll through memory lane and across time was shaping up to be an enjoyable excursion.
Wheeler Pounds is a local author who has written three books, "The Cherokee Hideaway," "The Cellar Vault: Secrets of the Cherokee Hideaway," and "The Spy Sanctuary: Secrets of the Cherokee Vault," with a fourth book "Up Fools Hill, Down Memory Lane, Across Time, in the works. The first three books are currently available online at Amazon.com. Pounds can be reached by email at email@example.com or by mail at 3424 Kings Mill Rd., Oakman, AL 35579.