Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Walter "Tom" Thomas King, November 4, 1991

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Father's business and part-time farming

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Partial Transcript: This is, uh, Monday, November fourth, 1991.

Segment Synopsis: King discusses his connections to Stanton, Kentucky and farming, how he returned from serving in the army to work both in a factory in Winchester, Kentucky, and as a part time tobacco farmer.

Keywords: Bundy tubing; Saw mill; Stanton (Ky.); Tobacco; U.S. Army; Winchester (Ky)

Subjects: Agriculture; Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Tobacco farmers

00:05:19 - Full time farming

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Partial Transcript: Now what, what prompted you to leave working in the factory to go into farming full time?

Segment Synopsis: King briefly discusses his time as a full time farmer, which he became after leaving his factory job in Winchester. While his farm began with tobacco, he eventually expanded his operation to include livestock. King also mentions that he never participated in any activities related to the Extension Office.

Keywords: Bee culture; Cattle; Extension office; Hogs; Saving; Tobacco farming

Subjects: Agriculture; Livestock; Mountain life

00:09:13 - Father's business / taking product to market

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Partial Transcript: Um, you--back to your, your childhood, uh, w, w--did you go to school and where, where'd you go to school?

Segment Synopsis: King talks about working with his father's saw mill business. In his discussion of where the lumber was taken to market, King also mentions where his present-day products, tobacco and livestock, are sold primarily.

Keywords: Cattle; Dairy; Eighth grade education; Grandparents; Paris Stockyard; Saw mill; Tobacco; U.S. Army

Subjects: Agriculture; Livestock; Logging; Rural schools; Tobacco farmers

00:15:29 - Layout of the farm

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Partial Transcript: Well growing up, uh, here in this--this is the house you've lived in all your life, pretty much.

Segment Synopsis: King describes the layout of his property, both from when he was growing up and at the present day. He describes each kind of livestock he has raised on his farm and his uses for them.

Keywords: Catfish; Cattle; Corn; Dogs; Farmhouses; Goats; Hay; Hogs; Leasing; Smokehouses; Wood burning stoves

Subjects: Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Beef cattle; Farm life; Fish culture

00:23:54 - The cost of raising hogs

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Partial Transcript: In your estimate, uh, estimates, how much--can you give me some information, some insight, on, um, what's involved with, with the cost of, of feeding and bringing up a, uh, cow or pig?

Segment Synopsis: King, one of only a few pig farmers in Powell County, explains the costs of raising hogs to market, and the yield he expects when he brings his hogs to a weekly market.

Keywords: Feed; Hogs; Weighing

Subjects: Agriculture; Agriculture--Economic aspects; Livestock

00:28:57 - Equipment and chemicals

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Partial Transcript: What, what, what kinds of equipment and farm machinery do you, do you use?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses the two tractors he owns, their uses, and the means by which he paid for them. He also discusses the chemicals he uses on his farm, which includes several fertilizers and herbicides, but almost no pesticides.

Keywords: Baling; Fertilizer; Financing; Herbicide; Horsepower; International Harvester; John Deere; Mowing; Mt. Sterling (Ky.); Pesticide; Tobacco; Tractors; Trailers; Used tractors

Subjects: Agricultural chemicals; Agricultural machinery; Agriculture; Farm equipment

00:33:25 - Experimentation and farm technique study

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Partial Transcript: Is farming a good way to make a living?

Segment Synopsis: King comments briefly on the rewards of farming overall. He then discusses a number of personal skills he has acquired to benefit his farm, such as automotive repair (for tractors and other equipment), reading journals and magazines on agriculture, and simply having an experimental mind about improving his operation.

Keywords: Experimentation; Fertilizer; Hogs; Junk dealer; Manure; National Hog Farmer (Magazine); New Farm (Magazine); Progressive Farmer (Magazine); Tractor repair; U.S. Army

Subjects: Agriculture; Agriculture machinery; Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Livestock

00:40:35 - Brothers / hired hands

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Partial Transcript: Do, do any, uh--are any of your brothers in farming now?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses his brothers' farms, which also grow tobacco. He also briefly discusses the seasonal, or part-time employees he brings on to help with the tobacco harvest.

Keywords: Montgomery County (Ky.); Part-time employees; Tobacco

Subjects: Agriculture; Family farms; Farm life; Seasonal labor; Tobacco farmers

00:42:10 - Set-aside program / growing corn

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Partial Transcript: What is the name f--of the, uh, mountain where your farm is?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses his involvement in the set-aside program, a government program that arranges payment to farmers who grow smaller crops on parts of their land or leave portions of their land untended. He also talks about the corn he grows and where corn seed is purchased.

Keywords: Cane Creek Mountain (Ky.); Corn; Healthcare; Hybrid corn; Seed; Set-aside Program; Stanton (Ky.); Winchester (Ky.)

Subjects: Agricultural subsidies; Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Farm life

00:45:25 - Bench fill technique

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Partial Transcript: How 'bout um, uh, church activities?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses the local church which he attends as a nonmember, as well as local farm organizations and the county fair, which he does not attend at all. He describes the "bench fill" technique, a form of terrace farming found commonly in hill farms near King's property, though King no longer uses the technique.

Keywords: Bench fill; Cane Creek Union Church, Stanton (Ky.); Farmers clubs; Farmers organizations; Powell County fair

Subjects: Agricultural expeditions; Agriculture, Cooperative; Farm life; Hill farming; Religion; Terracing

00:49:21 - Digging wells / family ownership of the farm

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, the source of water for, for the house here, uh, w, where is the water? Where does the water come from?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses the different wells used by himself and his family on the farm, as well as how the wells have been placed and dug. He briefly discusses family members who previously owned the farm and where they have since settled.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); Drinking water; Great uncle; Septic tank; Shale; Well digging

Subjects: Buildings--Irrigation systems; Family farms; Farm life; Plumbing; Wells

00:52:02 - Outbuildings and layout of the farm

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Partial Transcript: Now what kind of outbuildings are here now, or used to be here around the house?

Segment Synopsis: King speaks about the various buildings and spaces around his farm, his uses for them, and how they have changed over the years. He also discusses changes in home economics over the years, including electrification, garbage disposal, canning and preserving, and sewage.

Keywords: Barns; Building dimensions; Butchering; Canned goods; Cellar; Curing; Electricity; Fences; Garbage disposal; Glassware; Molasses; Outhouse; Pork; Septic tank; Smokehouse; Tobacco; Trash burning; Vegetable garden

Subjects: Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Canning and preserving; Farm life; Home economics; Outbuildings; Rural electrification; Sewage

01:02:12 - Country stores / gas utilities

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Partial Transcript: How 'bout country stores? Are there any country stores around here?

Segment Synopsis: King recalls the general store formerly located near the family farm. He also talks about the means by which gas lines had come to the area and where the gas companies' primary operations took place.

Keywords: Canned goods; Country stores; Gas drilling; Gas wells; Mail order catalogs; Menifee County (Ky.); Sears and Roebuck; Soda

Subjects: Farm life; Gas well drilling; General stores

01:05:49 - Telephone, television, radio, and playing in the yard

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Partial Transcript: How 'bout, uh, telephones, um, t.v., television. When did that enter this household?

Segment Synopsis: King speaks briefly about communications technologies coming to the family farm, giving estimates of when they received telephone and television. He talks about the radio stations his family listens to, as well as a brief explanation of games he used to play with his siblings as a child.

Keywords: Lexington (Ky.); Mt. Sterling (Ky.); Radio programs; Radio stations; Stanton (Ky.); Telephone; Television

Subjects: Radio; Recreation; Rural telephone; Television

01:07:54 - Local economy

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Partial Transcript: How 'bout blacksmith shops? Were there any blacksmith shops around here?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses the absence of trades like blacksmiths and masons in the county. He remembers blacksmiths working nearby when he was young, but that trade has folded in his county. He also comments on the out-migration of many in his community to factory and technical jobs in surrounding cities.

Keywords: Barbwire fence; Blacksmith shops; Chimneys; Horseshoeing

Subjects: Agriculture; Agriculture--Kentucky--Powell County; Blacksmithing; Farm life; Peddlers; Rural-urban migration

01:12:06 - Army service / road construction

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to your, your military career, um, where, where did you serve during your, during your two years?

Segment Synopsis: King briefly recounts his service in the army and then discusses the construction of roads and bridges in the area, which he claims were built by the WPA in the 1930s.

Keywords: Basic training; Draft; Fort Carson (Colo.); Fort Knox (Ky.); Highway improvements; Infantry; Road pavement; Wells; Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Subjects: Roads--Design and construction; United States. Army

01:16:14 - Natural disasters / family reunions

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Partial Transcript: Is there a, a volunteer fire department for this area?

Segment Synopsis: King explains that the area around his farm has very few floods and forest fires. He also discusses the two family reunions he attends, as well as family get-togethers he remembers from his childhood.

Keywords: Christmas; Family reunion; Fire department; Floods; Forest fires; Halloween; Lion's Club; Stanton (Ky.); Thanksgiving

Subjects: Family reunions; Holidays; Natural disasters

01:18:22 - Home construction / first car / sports

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Partial Transcript: With the, uh, outbuildings on your farm and stuff, what, what sort of foundations, uh, do, do you have on these buildings?

Segment Synopsis: King discusses the foundation and materials of the buildings on his farm, the first cars owned by himself and his brother, as well as his interest in sports. King notes that he does not follow the UK Wildcats or any sports teams, but rather prefers to hunt and fish when he is able.

Keywords: Building materials; Chevrolet; Fishing; Foundation; Hunting; Plymouth; University of Kentucky Athletics

Subjects: Automobiles; Farm life; House construction; Outbuildings; Recreation

01:21:55 - Farm buildings, post office, and Native American artifacts

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Partial Transcript: W, uh, was there ever a spring house here on this farm?

Segment Synopsis: In closing this segment, King discusses the location of the nearest post office, which became the one in Stanton during King's lifetime. He also talks about the Native American artifacts one can still find on his land and the surrounding area.

Keywords: Arrowheads; Indian artifacts; Outhouses; Post offices; Spring houses; Wells

Subjects: Farm life; Mountain life; Native Americans