Robert Clear

Interviewed by: Chelsey Cardwell
Date of Interview: November 1, 2010
Interview Location: Robert Clear's house

Chelsey Cardwell reports:

"I have been around my popaw [grandfather] all 16 years of my life, and I still did not know anything about his history. This project became a great opportunity to learn more about my popaw and that is why I wanted to interview him. He is a reserved type of guy who only says what he must and nothing more. He works all the time mostly around the house type of work or on mine and his other two grandchildren’s vehicles. He is the person who always fixes our maintenance problems, so we have never had to call a professional for any broken pipelines, a leaky ceiling, or a broken washer or dryer. I knew interviewing him would get him to open up and tell me about himself and how he was raised."

Question: What year were you born?

Clear: Well I’s born in 1939, and that’d make me 71 years old.

Question: How old were you when you started working?

Clear: Well I started working when I’s a child, workin’ on a farm and then a service station when I’s about nine or ten years old, and I learned to drive a truck when I’s twelve. Even though it wasn’t legal, I’d sit on the edge of the sear and look through the wheel and drive from Broadford to Saltville.

Question: What was your favorite job you had throughout your life?

Clear: Uhh, well I guess that’d be my last job working at Ball Corporation.

Question: How many siblings did you have?

Clear: Well I had five brothers, I didn’t have no sisters.

Question: What chores did you do as a child?

Clear: Well, I worked on a farm and in the garden. . . had to get up fore school and milk a cow and bring them milk back to the house, then I could start getting’ ready for school.

Question: How did your parents make a living?

Clear: Well my mother was a house wife and my father ran his own service station, it was Clear’s Service Station.

Question: What were daily challenges you faced?

Clear: Ever thing was a challenge back then, had to get up an work fore school, then come home and mow yards and work the garden after school.

Question: What kind of house did you live in?

Clear: We lived in a big ole two-story brick house, it had bout thirteen rooms in it.

Question: Was any of your family in the war?

Clear: : Ummmm, two of my brothers was, one was in Germany and the other was in Vietnam.

Question: What do you remember about the war?

Clear: Uhh, well I remember when they bombed Pearl Harbor, we had black outs during the night. Mommy would have to put blankets over the winders to hide our lights so planes couldn’t see the house.

Question: What were some ways you were punished for bad behavior?

Clear: Punishments? Hell they took a belt or a switch and striped your leg right good, my mommy kept switches and kept us in line. When we was real bad, my mother would strip us off naked and put a dress on us boys and lock us outta the house, we had to hide so nobody would see us in a dress.

Question: What kinds of toys did you play with?

Clear: Well we had an old bicycle we picked up somewhere, if we wanted a wagon we’d get some two-by-fours and nail some wheels on em, we made a bunch of our own toys.

Question: How has the area changed since you were younger?

Clear: Well, it’s just grown, it ain’t changed that much. But the populations a lot smaller, town used to packed and now it’s dead.

Question: What was your first paying job?

Clear: My first payin’ job was workin’ on the farm, we made 50 cents an hour workin’ corn, hay, and tobacco.

Question: What kinds of food did your family eat?

Clear: Well, we had beans and taters just about every day, and had gravy for breakfast. Didn’t know what a piece of steak was til I’s grown.

Question: Where did you go to school?

Clear: I went to Saltville High School, R. B. Worthy.

Question: : Where did your family get your clothes?

Clear: Ummm, around Christmas we took a trip to Bristol to buy Christmas clothes and toys, and back then that was an all day trip just to go to Bristol.

Question: Was life easier when you were growing up than it is now?

Clear: Well it was a lot easier then cause you wasn’t under so much stress, you could get out and go wherever you wanted.

Question: Did you go to college?

Clear: No, not a real college, I went to a trade school, took machinist and weldin’ and electricity.

Question: Did you go to church?

Clear: Every Sunday 'til I hit high school then I sorty backed off, but yeah they used to dress us up and make us go.

Question: What was your favorite TV show?

Clear: I didn’t really have a favorite, we watched them old westerns though, like Hop Along Cassidy.

Question: How old were you when you got your license?

Clear: I was fifteen, back then you could go get em when yous fifteen, and you didn’t have to have no drivers ed or nothin’ like that.

Question: What was your first car?

Clear: Well the first car I got was an old ’49 turtle back Chevrolet car, got her when I got out of high school. I give sixty-five dollars for the car and sixty-five dollars for insurance.

Question: Who was your role model as a child?

Clear: Ummm, I guess that was my grandfather Clear, Steve Clear. He taught us how to lay cinder block, do carpenter work, how to save our money, and well, how to do a lot of things. He’s a pretty sharp old man. He made you do everything right, if you didn’t do it right he’d make you do it over. He said if the jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing right.