Buck Martin, Flea Market Vendor; Deane, Kentucky, Letcher County:
“[I grew up] at Halo, Kentucky. We had four miles of dirt road. Lots of times you couldn’t get home and had to walk and park your car. Especially, if it flooded. It’s country, you know. Most people kindly relied on garden stuff to live and so on. Some of us didn’t have no power. Some did. Some had television. Some didn’t. It’d just depend on what kind of family you came out of.
Wheelwright School is where I went to High School, but I didn’t graduate. The little first school was Jack’s Creek School. I’d say about four rooms. It still exists over there. It’s made out of stone.
I went looking for work up in Ohio. Went to Columbus and found me a little job there and worked two or three years and it wasn’t paying nothing, 95-cents an hour, so I worked a while and I quit and come back. Then I drove a truck for I’d say about five years, hauled coal. Then I quit that and went back to Michigan.
I worked there about eight years for Ford Motor and then Washington Asphalt in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Worked seven and a half years for them. My mother had a store at Halo and she was getting old and she wanted her baby boy back, so I bought her store and come back. I run the store and sold tires, and my wife, she helped with it. Had a little gas station.
Martin’s grocery was the name of it. We had two pumps there, maybe three. We had diesel, gas, high test and low. It was close to the post office there. Really what it was, it was a small area and population was low, you know, and it was the post office. I was close to the post office, so they’d wait in the store till the man come with the mail.
Then, I went back in the coal business. I had two or three little small truck mines and didn’t make no money, but I got experience. From that, we got a trucking business. [We] built up about five tractor and trailers, and then we’d haul coal out of Perry County and then some into Virginia here. It was mine and hers [my wife] together, but I just fixed her a corporation and I worked for her. Let her be the real boss for a while.
I got hurt off of the trucks, and since then I’ve just been flea marketing. I wrecked a truck over in Pike County, down Cowell Creek Mountain.
My Martin side grandparents, they came from close to Ashland. Eventually, they moved from there to Whalen, Kentucky and what they call Pumpkin Center. My Mom’s side, she was a Hall. She come out of the Hawk Hall family around Knott County. Hawk had nineteen kids and he was an Old Regular preacher. He had two wives. One of ‘em died and he got a new wife. That’s where he got all them kids from. So my last aunt, I’d say about two years passed away. All of ‘ems gone.
(About Old Regular Baptist Church) Well, now my Mom, she belonged to ‘em. And I joined one up in Michigan. It was a Southern Baptist. So I joined up there and I probably wasn’t about 25 or something like that, so I grew up in that type of church. My Mom wasn’t strict like the others. She’d go to my church or I’d go to hers. We didn’t fight ‘tween that. Long as you know Jesus.
I like the scenery. The mountains. Sometimes they give you problems when it snows. When you need to go shop like [in a town], you can run to Wal-Mart real fast. Well, when I get ready to go to Wal-Mart it’s 30 minutes any way I go to town. You spend more gas and time. If you live in town like Columbus, or I lived close to Detroit, there’s stores everywhere you look.
I really was raised here, and want to die here. I’m just partial to the mountains.
You live harder here. You gotta work. When I was small, me and my mother worked in a cornfield [for] 50-cents a day. The wages ain’t so good. Now, if you [were] lucky here to work for a [coal] company, the little town would have their own company store. Them people lived pretty good. But, if you grew up and your Dad was hurt or you had people that got killed in ‘em [mines] you didn’t wanna work in ‘em no more. So, I was one of them that took off. My Dad got busted up. It didn’t kill him but he was crippled up. He run a motor, they called it a tram, and he hit another tram and it busted him up. My relatives, a lot of ‘em got hurt. Mining, you know, it’s dangerous in there and everybody don’t know if they’re gonna return or not.
They’s lots of people that like to come down here. It’d be good if they could just get the money to fix the area, ‘cause they take these mountains and make back trails out of ‘em, horse trails, and 4-wheeler trails and they’d come from everywhere. And whenever they come like that, they need a motel and they gotta eat, so you get a lot of business. But, fiscal court has to vote whether they gonna spend on a job or not. Depends on who is the judge and all that is. That’s like the whole country. Depends on who’s in power.
Me and my neighbor night watch for one another. He changed around and got on day shift and didn’t tell me. I dialed his phone, and [it wasn’t the] the right number. Anyway, I was watchin’ for him so I heard the 4-wheeler stop and I looked out the window, and there was a flashlight going over all his stuff. So I tried again [to call] and couldn’t get him. I made a little racket, noise trying to scare ‘em. I said well I don’t know what it is or who it is so I’m gonna call 911 and let them take care of it. Turned out, he [the neighbor] was at home and it was him out there with that flashlight and the cops come to him and pulled him out of bed. He was barefooted. They said, ‘well he must be the one that lives here. He ain’t got no shoes on [and] a burglar would have his shoes.’ I called the law on him! But I didn’t know. I was protecting him.
I like coin collecting awful well. I did have a big one [collection] and I’m getting older and really don’t want things like that laying around. People would be more tempted to rob you and kill you. I got robbed two or three years ago, about four thousand dollars. They were so good at it, they broke the window out, double paned, they broke one pane and didn’t break the other. They had a little girl about this big with ‘em and they shoved her through that kitchen window and she opened the big door for the big boys. I was out like this and so they knew that. They know I’m gone now, but I hope they don’t try that again. I have security that watches ‘em and I know who done the other one. That’s another reason I quit coining.
Right now, I got a bunch of cars. I’m an antique car dealer. I like old cars. My wife died three or four years ago and I had a little money and I had a few little friends that liked money and I got beat out of a little more money. I said well I’m gonna put it all in old cars, and if the girls get the cars, I’ve had it.”