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Coalfire Stories by E. V. Pete Hester

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 19-10-2015


I hope you will take the time to read all or a lot of the stories I have written about Coalfire, Alabama and some of the people involved with life around there, mostly in the 1940 and 1950’s. All of them are true and accurate to the best of my abilities to recall them. They are included in my favorite and featured stories, so just click on the “read more” note and they should show up. Thanks for reading and or downloading them….Pete

Comments (6)

Comment on Coal Fire Story #4: You didn’t mention Raymond Davidson and his King Edwards Cigar sign. I remember Maude, and I remember Raymond going down in the field and yelling at Maude while resting under a shade tree; but I remember best his protectiveness of his King Edwards Cigar sign. He may have received as much as $10 a year to have that sign on his property. He wanted to keep it in good condition, undamaged by the neighborhood kids. I remember that our favorite place to play football in the fall was in our yard between our house and Aunt Annie’s house. As soon as he would hear a football strike the sign, he would come running and break up the game. The sign almost always was hit, too, because we liked to use the sign, not only as a field boundary marker but also as a goal post. It wasn’t regulation height or width, but it was dandy for kids to practice kicking a football over.

Comment on Coal Fire Story #7: There was certainly very nearly a generation between the ages of the older and the younger of the Coal Fire boys. I vaguely remember tales of the German War Stuff that the Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad dumped along their right-of-way, and I remember the younger set of boys looking for it and generally finding nothing. I always wondered if the war stuff story was really true, or it was just another one of the many war tales floating around. We never found any of it. It was either already buried or had already walked off on the legs of many kids by the time that the younger set of Coal Fired boys roamed the area. Failing to find any of it led us to our favorite spot on that railroad in which to play war games. That spot was the site of the “Overhead Bridge”, which was our favorite location. We blew up many a German (and Japanese) supply train as it passed under that bridge, killing many a hapless German soldier. Then, in my more sane, grown-up moments, I wondered why the GM&O railroad would pick little old, backwater Coal Fire in which to dispose of war material. That realization alone indicated that the entire story must have been a made up tale by a generation closer to the actual event. It would have been nice to have been able to find a real German gun or helmet.

So sorry you missed the war materials dumped on the railroad right of way. First off, the believability of the story is unimportant to me. It’s real. It happened. And it happened just as I said. You believe as you wish. Within a few days of dumping the war goods, along came another group of rail cars and covered the stuff up. That was the shock to us, because all of us would have gotten more had we know it would be covered so soon. Take your shovel and in between, Coalfire Creek and Little Coalfire Creek, about half way, and start digging on the south side of the tracks. It should not be over three or four feet down….It should be still there..

We seldom played that close to anyone’s home. We would choose a pasture or the swamp to do our playing. I don’t think any of us got in trouble with Raymond over that. That sign would be worth something today in mint condition. Wonder where it ended up?

That is the difference in growing up among the babies near Mama’s coattails and growing up among the grownups. The pasture and the swamp were dangerous territory, and we couldn’t hear the protective yell of Mama. Remember! I only remember the Raymond Davidson stories about the King Edward’s sign as having occurred during the first six years of life. These stories are like those concerning Donald Bishop and the movie theater in the old school bus shell that he operated in Aunt Annie’s yard during this time. I remember the Coal Fire movie theater with great fondness. He showed some good movies (mostly cartoons) for kids when we could come up with a nickel for the admission. I remember that you, Cecil, and some of the older kids helped him with housekeeping details and didn’t have to pay. I would have loved to have kept my nickel too, so I could spend it at Otis Burgess’ store, but he never offered me the job. Maybe it had something to do with age discrimination. Nevertheless, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “discrimination”, so it didn’t matter. As far as the stories about the war material are concerned, we did look for it later, but we really didn’t know where to look. We would walk up and down the railroad looking for it, but we never found out the location with enough precision to start digging. We never spent that much time in locations as far away as Little Coal Fire Creek. Again, that was territory bordering on the dangerous and the unknown to us as I remember. I have no idea where the King Edward’s sign ended up. Raymond probably pulled it down after he stopped receiving his annual payment for it like Dad did the signs along the right-of-way of his property in west Coal Fire. Dad would pull them down after the first year that he didn’t receive payment because they would interfere with his hay mower.

There were no restrictions on where we could go or when we needed to be back. We would never miss a meal, so we were home by
supper and we never went far enough away that we would miss any meals. That always determined how far we would go. And since both Mom
and Dad worked, my supervision was either Aunt Vera or Aunt Noit. I listened to Aunt Vera supervising Cecil so that helped. But the war stuff
was dumped and is probably still there if you want to dig. And we had several pastures to play in, Hugh Bell’s, Uncle Dee’s, Aunt
Annie’s for the most part and a couple of others. We would ride our bikes to Rozelle’s Mill, the Overhead Bridge and explore Coalfire Creek on foot, north and south of the highway and had many swimming holes. Those days were some happy times. Sorry you missed out on that.

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