Edwin R. Gibson

Interviewed by: Katelyn Tickles
Date of Interview: April 20, 2011
Interview Location: Gibson's home

Katelyn Tickles reports:

"My grandfather was born in Newport News in 1939, but will soon move to Coeburn and attend school. He has lived in many different places and knows how it was there, compared to here. I interviewed my grandfather because he is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. When I was little I was attached to my grandfather’s hip and he always told the most interesting stories about my family and many made up stories my favorite being, Little Jim Big Jim stories. He still lives in Coeburn right down the road from me. "

Question:  Where were you raised and where did you attend elementary and high school?

Answer:  I lived in three or four different places, but I lived here longer than anywhere, been here forty years in this house.  When I was born in 1939 dad worked in the shipyard in Newport News and I lived their till I was six and returned here to start school, now then lived in Newport News again till probably about 1949 to 1950, then my dad worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and I attended school there in the seventh grade, then I moved back here and finished high school. 

Question:  What was your family like growing up and what kind of house did you grow up in?

Answer:  When growing up my father worked and my mother kept the house going hardly any houses had bathrooms, they had outside bathrooms.  Our water supply came from a spring above the house and gravity flowed it in the home it’s own.  Also, we raised a garden and had chickens.

Question:  How many brothers/sisters did you grow up with? Names? Ages?

Answer:  One brother his name is Bobby, he is three years younger than me. 

Question:  Did your family attend church when you were a little boy if so where and when were you baptized?

Answer:  We always attended church when I was a boy; I was baptized when I lived in Newport News, when I was about in the fifth grade somewhere along there.

Question:  What kind of chores did your parents give you to do and what were your favorite and least favorite?

Answer:  I had to get the coal and wood in to build fires and my least favorite chore was work’n in the garden, I didn’t like the garden.

Question:  Did you get in trouble a lot when you were a little boy and what was the most mischievous thing you did and did not get caught for?

Answer:  I did not get in trouble a lot when I was a little boy.  I use to slip outta the window at night me and my brother on the weekends and we never did get caught.

Question:  When you were a child what were your favorite things to do?

Answer:  I liked to go to the country stories and listen to the old folk tell stories.  I use to do to my grandmother’s Gibson’s house and I loved her thick biscuit, then I use to go to my mothers mothers house and I loved her thin biscuits and I loved to bird hunt and I had my own bird dog.  I put a lot of food on the table from hunting and fishing and I would never kill anything I would not eat.  After church on Sunday we played ball and I enjoyed that very much.

Question:  Did your family grow a lot of the food they ate when you were a little boy?

Answer:  We grow’d partly what we ate and we had an apple orchard behind our house and we got our apples and also canned apples to eat.

Question:  What did your parents do for a living?

Answer:  My dad was an electrician, truck driver, and worked at some of the mines.  My mother was a substitute teacher at a grade school and a store clerk part time.

Question:  This area has seen a lot of hard times, how did they affect your family throughout your life?

Answer:  Made me appreciate my family and it helped me later in life with responsibility.

Question:  When did you buy your first car and what was it? What was the price of gas at that time?

Answer:  My first car was bought in 1959 and it was a 1956 Dodge and seventeen cents was the price of gas.

Question:  Where did you attend secondary schooling at?

Answer:  I attended four years at the apprentice school at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.

Question:  How has this area changed from when you were little?

Answer:  Everyone now has an automobile and when I was little only one in ten had an automobile very few houses in this area here.

Question:  I know you play guitar and was wondering how you learned or who taught you?

Answer:  I learned to play guitar on my own because I knew piano because my mamaw taught me but I did not follow that route so I changed the chords and learned how to form my chords to guitar.

Question:  When and where did you meet Nanna?

Answer:  I met Nanna in 1957 in the Coeburn High School library.

Question:  Where all have you worked throughout your life?

Answer:  When I went to school in Kansas City, Missouri at a Railroad Communications school I worked at a toy packing factory in Kansas City.  I worked six years in the shipyard in Newport News.  Returned to Coeburn worked at a dry cleaning company for a while, Rish Equipment Company and worked the remaining till I retired at Clinchfield Coal Company.

Question:  What was city life like when you lived in Newport News compared to this small town?

Answer:  You didn’t know as many people traffic was hectic and a lot of noise.

Question:  When did you quit working and what was the reason?

Answer:  I decided to retire in about 1996.

Question:  Where all have you lived and how did you end up spending the majority of your life in Coeburn?

Answer:  Coeburn, Kansas City Missouri for six months, Fairborn Ohio, and Newport News.  I spent the majority of my life in Coeburn because I worked here. 

Question:  Have you traveled a lot throughout your life? Where have you been?

Answer:  I have been to Tucson, Arizona, the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Carlsbad Cavern’s National Park, Kansas City, Missouri, Shreveport, Louisiana, that’s where I first met Johnny Cash the Louisiana Hayride met him again in Hilton, Virginia at the Carter Fold and saw his last two concerts and we have the same birthday February 26.  I made two trips to Canada, two trips to Florida been to Sandusky, Ohio, Pennsylvania about everywhere in the New England states, Nashville, Charleston, South Carolina, and Myrtle Beach. 

Question:  What is your favorite thing about this area?

Answer:  Probably the climate and the hills of Virginia.

Question:  Would you go back and change anything from your past if so what?

Answer:  I wouldn’t change anything I can’t think of anything I would want to.

Question:  What is your favorite kind of music? Favorite song?

Answer:  My favorite music is Country and song Daddy Sang Bass by Johnny Cash.

Question:  What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

Answer:  I hardly ever relax but I like to read and play guitar and study the Bible. 

Question:  Where you ever in the military or affiliate with the military either growing up or after you moved away from home?

Answer:  I was never in the military. 

Question:  Wars have had a lot of influence on this country have you personally been involved in the military in way.

Answer:  Yes I worked on military equipment in the shipyard.

Question:  What is one place that you would tell someone to visit in Coeburn from another area?

Answer:  The Guest River Gorge, High knob and the race track.

Question:  What does this area mean to you?

Answer:  It’s where I was raised, I love the area, it gives me security and happiness.

Question:  I have heard a lot of stories throughout my life, but are there any stories you would like to share with the class about growing up and living in this area?

Answer:  I love to tell stories ghost stories, hunting and fishing stories and camping stories, but I can’t think of a good to tell the class right now.

Question:  Can you share any stories about your grandparents or parents growing up in this area?

Answer:  Yes, I can share stories on how thins were then compared to now.

Question:  I know the first mine around here was in banner and you know a lot of history about this area, how do you believe the coal mines affected this area.

Answer:  The coal mine affected this area by giving people jobs and also people used coal to heat their homes with.

Question:  Tell me a little bit about your family history and how it has affected your life.

Answer:  My grandparent’s were musically inclined my grandmother was a piano teacher and my grandfather Terry was a singing instructor.  My grandparents were survivalists and I followed in their footsteps they could live without depending on the government they had a small farm and learned to live on their own not depending on anyone.