Growing up in Scott County Tennessee during the depression was difficult on everyone.
Times were hard and not many places for young people to visit and be together. Going to
church was one place the teenage, Willoughby sisters could go.
A praying, shouting, and saving revival was being held at the Mountain View Baptist Church! Etta
and Hester wanted to go. It was about five or six miles away. The Mountain View community was
larger than Black Creek. Etta and Hester knew that their mother would never let them go alone.
They decided to ask Clinton to go with them. They went looking for him and finally found him up
in the barn loft. Etta told Hester, "Clinton's up in the barn smokin' again! I can see the smoke coming
through the cracks. Let's sneak up the ladder and catch him. He won't be able to say no to us now!"
Etta and Hester holding back a giggle made their way up the ladder. When Etta's head poked
into the loft she shouted, "We caught you Clinton Willoughby! Dad would wear you out again if he
knew that you were up here smokin'." Clinton was startled but was glad that it was only Etta and Hester.
"I have been smokin' for years," Clinton said as he took another puff. "What do you girls want?"
Etta smiled, "Not much, we just want you to go with us to the revival in Mountain View. We won't be
able to go if you don't agree to walk with us." Hester said, "You know that you like the girls from
Clinton took another puff and slowly blew the smoke out, "I would be mighty proud to escort my
ugly sisters to Mountain View. You all might just find a boyfriend up there. I sure don't see any
Black Creek boys after you all!" Etta and Hester picked up some straw and threw it at him. Etta snapped,
"Your just awful Clinton Willoughby!"
Etta grabbed Clinton's country, gentlemen sack of tobacco and papers and held them up in the air and
proudly stated, "Let me show you how to roll a good cigarette!" Etta tore out a paper and held it with
two of her fingers. She opened the draw string of the sack of tobacco, and sprinkled some into the
paper. She smoothed the tobacco out and started rolling it up with her fingers. She held the cigarette
up to her mouth and licked it. She pulled the draw string together with her teeth. Holding the cigarette
between two fingers she looked at Clinton and said, "Got a light sir?" Hester's mouth was wide open
looking at Etta. Clinton struck a match on the bottom of his shoe and lighted Etta's cigarette. Etta
blowing out smoke casually stated, "Your not the only one sneakin' around and smokin'!"
Ethel was so proud of Etta, Hester and Clinton wanting to attend the revival in Mountain View. She
had been praying for Clinton especially. He had not recieved Christ yet. She wanted all her children
saved and baptized! She and Bruce did not have much time to visit other churches. They did try and
go to home comings at the other churches. She gave her permission for the girls to go, as long as they
minded Clinton. Ethel was pleased to see her daughters so happy!
Etta could hardly wait for the day to get over with. She and Hester had spent the biggest part of the
day trying on different dresses. They wanted to look their best. Etta chose a light, blue dress with tiny,
white flowers on the collar. Hester decided to wear the navy, blue dress with the pearl buttons. They
began to get ready when supper was over. Hester said, "I'm all thumbs Etta. Please help be button this
up!" Etta quit brushing her hair and helped Hester with the dress. "Hester, mom doesn't like us to wear
much make-up when we go the church. I thought that we could put on a little powder and rouge, and do
our eyes and lips when we get a little ways from the house. How does that sound sissy?" "Sounds
fine to me." Hester declared. Etta and Hester stood in front of the mirror and decided that they looked
Everyone was sitting on the front porch when Etta and Hester came out. Ethel smiled, "You girls look
so pretty! I want you children to come straight home after the service. We will be in bed when you all
get back, so be quite when you come in." Clinton was sitting on the front steps. He was dressed in his
best pants and a starched, white shirt. "You look mighty handsome son," Ethel said as she was
smiling at Clinton. Etta laughed, "I do believe that Clinton is blushing!" Everyone started laughing.
Clinton rose from the steps, "If were goin' to get there before it starts, we better get goin'!" Etta and
Hester bent down and kiss their mother by. Bruce said, "Clinton bring those girls back home safe."
Clinton nodded his head at his dad. The three headed down the lane toward the foot log.
When they were down the road a little ways, Etta stopped and took a small mirror out of her purse.
"Hester hold this for me." Etta took out her eye make-up and lip stick. She bent down a little so she
could see her face in the mirror. Clinton stated, "What in the world are you doing Etta?" "I'm primpin'
Clinton Willoughby! We have to do our eyes and lips. You know mom doesn't want us to wear much
make-up going to church." Clinton grinned, "You all are gonna look like painted up tarts!" Hester
snapped, "You behave yourself brother, or we will hold you down and put some paint on you!" They
all three got tickled and started laughing. When Etta and Hester were done, Etta said, "Now we can
The evening weather was just comfortable. The walk from the Willoughby farm to the Mountain View
church would take about an hour. They had to walk to the end of the Black Creek road and turn right.
It was up hill all the way to the church from there.
Etta and Hester walked side by side. They were walking like ladies and talking up a storm. Clinton
was a little ways ahead. Etta noticed that Clinton would take his comb out every so often and slick back
his hair. Etta speaking to Hester said, "I do declare Hester, Clinton Willoughby sure combs his hair
often!" Etta and Hester started snikering. Clinton smoothed his hair back with one hand. "Many a
pretty girl would like to run their fingers through my hair!" Etta remarked, "Your struck on yourself
Mr Willoughby!" Clinton picked up some gravel and acted like he was going to throw them. Etta and
Hester laughing, started running and passed up Clinton. "Clinton, you behave yourself ! Were just
hav'in fun with you." Hester said. Clinton grinning at them said, "Get along little girls. We still have a
ways to go."
They reached the top of Mountain View hill and headed toward the church. The Mountain View
Baptist Church was two, times bigger than the church in Black Creek. Etta could see people standing
in the church yard. She knew that the service had not started yet. She took out her handkerchief and
patted her forehead. It was hot! She and Hester knew some of the young people of Mountain View
but not everyone. Etta felt excitment in the air!
"Where did Clinton go?" Hester touched Etta's arm and said, "He's over there under that big, pine
tree with some boys that he knows." Etta whispered in Hester's ear, "I need to go to the toliet before
church starts. Go with me sissy." They went around the side of the church. The women's out-house
was on the right side of the church a few, hundred feet away. The men's on the lelt.
Etta noticed a young man looking at her as she walked around the church. He was by himself.
He had dark, brown hair and the prettiest, brown eyes that she had ever seen. When she and Hester
passed him, he smiled at her. Etta and Hester reached the out-house and went inside. Hester said,
"Who in the world was that a starin' at you Etta?" Etta looking out a crack in the boards to see if she
could see him responded, "Sissy I don't know, but I think he is so cute! My heart is poundin' so
hard that I can't hardly breathe! Isn't he just dreamy?" Hester smiled, "Well he sure was lookin' you
over!" Etta wondered to herself if this could be love!
The church bell started ringing. People started going into the church and finding seats. Etta and
Hester made their way to the front of the church. Out of the corner of her eye, Etta noticed the young
man coming toward her. She pinched Hester's arm so she would notice also. The young man stood
next to Etta and said, "I've not seen you around here before. My name is Herstle Gibson, but
everyone calls me Buck. Etta shyly replied, "My name is Etta, and this is my sister Hester. Buck
nodded at Hester and looked back at Etta, "I live in New River. Where are you all from?" Hester said,
"We live on Black Creek. Come on Etta, we need to go inside!" Hester grabbed Etta's arm as Buck
looking into Etta's eyes asked, "Etta I don't have a car, but I was wonderin' if you would let me walk
you home after church?" Hester tugging on Etta's arm, Etta hurriedly said, "I will think about it and
will let you know after church." Buck was smiling at Etta as Hester pulled her inside the church.
Once inside the church, Etta whispered, "I want to set next to a window." They walked half-way
up the aisle when Etta spotted two, empty spaces next to a window. She pulled at Hester, "Follow me
sissy!" They made their way to the end of the bench trying not to step on people's toes. They
finally sat down.
When it was hot in the church all the windows were raised with a stick to hold them up. The air
felt good on Etta's face. Hester lightly asked, "Do you see Buck standin' out there?" Etta glanced
out the window, "No I don't see him." Some young men that was not saved would stand outside
and look into the church while the service was going on. Etta looked around for Clinton. He must
be standing outside also.
The preacher got up and stood behind the pulpit. He thanked everyone for coming, and asked
everbody to stand and turn to page hundred and twenty-four. Etta and Hester did like everyone
else. The voices of the church were singing, I'll Fly Away, to the top of their lungs! Etta gazed
out the window again. There He was! He was standing leaned up against a tree looking right at
her. Etta looked toward the preacher and could feel her face blushing. He must really like me, Etta
thought to herself. Etta turned her head a little toward Hester and whispered, "He's out there sissy,
he's looking right at me!" Hester squeezed Etta's hand, "Don't let him see you looking at him so
much." Etta and Hester exchanged smiles.
The preacher was preaching hell fire to the people. The old, men of the church were hollering a-men!
Two, young boys and a girl ran and fell down on their knees at the mourner's bench. Some of the
members started singing, Just As I'am. Good, christian men and women knelt down around the
young sinners and prayed for their lost souls! Two, heavy set women in the middle of the church
started shouting and dancing in the spirit! Etta and Hester stood like everybody else. Two men
stayed seated on the back bench of the church. They were sinners. The preacher was preaching
so fast that you could not understand every word. He would run back and forth across the front of
the church, and every now and then he would jump up on a bench and then jump off! Etta heard a
woman in front of her say loudly, "The spirit is sure movin' us tonight!" The woman with her arms
raised over her head started shouting! Etta knew that this would be a soul,saving revival!
Etta considered herself a good, christian girl. Tonight her mind was not so much on the Lord as
it was Buck Gibson! She had glanced out once more. He was still standing there, but this time he
was smoking a cigarette.
Etta knew where New River was located. It was the biggest, coal town in the county. Basil worked
at Ritter's, Saw Milll in New River for a few months. She was remembering what he had said to the
family. It was two or three miles from Mountain View. Highway 27 went through Robbins, and then
Mountain View, New River and through Oneida and into Kentucky. New River was not as big
as Oneida but it was a town. They shipped coal down from the Brimstone Mountain and weighed
it in New River. Most of the houses were company owned. Most of the men worked for the coal
company. New River has a doctor's office, company, owned, general store and a large, boarding
house with a restaurant. It also has a school, post office and a baptist church. One thing that she
remembered Basil saying that she thought was funny. New River had two streets with board walks.
They were named Mud and Rough street!
When she went with her mother to Oneida by train, they had stopped at the station in New River.
You couldn't see much of the town from the train. She did remember the train crossing the railroad
bridge. The bridge was at least two-hundred feet above the rushing water! The town was named after
The loud shouting and praising the Lord brought Etta's mind back to the church service. Etta asked
Hester, "What happened?" Hester looked at Etta strange and said, "They all got saved Etta!" Etta
could see people hugging the three children. She looked out the window. Buck was still standing there.
He was talking to Clinton. Etta knew the church service was just about over. She was looking very
forward to talking to Buck Gibson again!
The church service finally came to an end. Etta knew that everyone had to stand around for awhile
to shake hands and say good-by. The sinners did not have to abide by this rule, but the christains
knew this was the proper etiquette. Etta sure hoped that Buck would still be outside. She sure wanted
that Gibson boy to walk her home!
Etta lightly squeezed Hester's arm, "I want to hurry and go outside." Hester quietly said, "Etta, we
will say by to the preacher and his wife and some of the elderly ladies. That should be enough." Etta
and Hester made their way to the front of the church. They had to stand in line to shake the preacher's
hand. When it came their turn, the preacher shook both of their out-reached hands. Hester said, "We
sure did enjoy your sermon." Taking a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiping the sweat from
his forehead, "I am mighty proud that you young ladies attended the services tonight. I want you to say
howdy to Sister Ethel and Brother Willoughby for me. You all come back tomorrow night and bring some
more people with you." Before Hester could say anything, the preacher was already shaking another
person's hand. The preacher's wife pulled Etta and Hester close to her ample breast and said, "God bless
you girls!" They made their way toward the church door hugging some of the older ladies as they went.
Etta clutched Hester's arm, "Come on and lets get out of here!" Hester whispered into Etta's ear,
"Don't walk so fast or he will think that your eager. "Hester Willoughby, I am eager!" Hester said, "I
know that, but you can't let him know!" Etta smiled at her big sister, "I know you are right. Hester don't you think Buck is the cutest thing that you have ever seen!" Hester hugged Etta and answered,
"I do believe that you are right sissy!" They walked down the church steps slowly with their heads held
Etta had spotted Buck out of the corner of her eye. He was standing with Clinton and one of the
Whaling boy's. Etta and Hester walked leisurely to where they were standing. Hester stated, "Clinton we
are ready to start home now." Clinton turned toward the Whaling boy and told him that he would see
him in a few days.
Buck walked up to Etta, "I told your brother that I wanted to walk you home. He said that it would be
alright with him." Etta had not even thought of what Clinton might say about Buck. Etta smiled, "I
would be most happy if you would walk me home."
Clinton announced, "We better be a goin'. It's gettin' late." Clinton walked up to Hester and
whispered, "I guess you just lucked out tonight!" Hester could see a grin on his face and knew that
Clinton was teasing her. Hester entwined her arm with Clinton's arm and said, "I don't think so brother,
because you are walking me home!"
They started walking down the Mountain View hill towards Black Creek. The conversation centered
around the church service, New River and Black Creek. Etta and Buck began talking more to each other,
and commence walking slower. A few minutes later, they were twenty or thirty feet behind Hester and
Clinton said, " Hester they sure are walking slow." Hester poked Clinton in the ribs, "Don't you dare
say a thing to them Clinton Willoughby! You know that they want to court a little." Clinton started
laughing, "Hester, I know that you think I am dumb, but I'm sure not that dumb!" Hester began laughing
also, "Clinton Willoughby, you are a character!"
Walking side by side Etta asked, "How many brothers and sisters do you have Buck?" "I have one
brother and three sisters." Buck was looking into Etta's face. He thought that she had the most beautiful,
blue eyes that he had ever seen. He was so pleased that he had decided to attend church tonight. He knew
that it would be a long walk back to his home. He also knew that Etta Willoughby was sure worth it!
Etta did not want this night to end. She knew that they were getting close to the lane that went up to
her house. She and Buck had talked about everything. He was so easy to talk with. She had let him hold
her hand almost all the way. Etta noticed how sweaty their hands were. He has such a strong grip she
Etta saw Clinton and Hester waiting for her at the foot log. She and Buck stopped walking. Etta softly
said, "Buck I sure have enjoyed our walk." "I have to Etta. I'm gonna go to church tomorrow also. I was
wondering if you would be there, could I set with you?" Etta's head was racing with thoughts. She
hoped that her mother would let them all go to church tomorrow night. "Buck I don't know if I can be
there or not. If I am there, I will save you a seat next to me." Etta noticed a big smile on his face. The
light from the moon was shinning through the trees. Its glow settled on Etta's face and shoulders. Buck
still holding her hand thought Etta was the most beautiful girl in the world. "I guess that I had better let
you go. Clinton and your sister are waiting for you." She felt Buck let go of her hand. Etta with her
head slightly down, turned away from Buck and walked two steps. She stopped and slowly turned her
head back toward Buck. She raised her eyes up to meet his and smiled. "By for now, Buck Gibson." He
watched her for a few seconds walking toward her family. He thought to himself. What a girl!
Etta could almost feel Buck's eyes on her as she walked. She tried to walk a little sexy but not to sexy.
This was her first, real date! She did not consider sitting in her yard with any of the boys from Black Creek a real date. She hoped Buck Gibson would be in her dreams tonight.
When Etta approached the foot log she asked, "Is he gone, or is he standing down the road?"
Clinton answered, "Your prince charming has headed back to New River!" Etta took a deep breath
and relaxed. Clinton continued, "I can't wait to tell mom and dad about tonight. I might just wake them
up when we get home!" Etta gasped, "Clinton if you do I will never speak to you again!" Hester came
to Etta's rescue, "Clinton Willoughby, that goes for me also!" Clinton put an arm around each of his
sisters. "Don't you all know when your old brother is having fun with you? I'm gonna leave the
story telling completely up to you all."
Hester looked at Etta, "I think it will be alright to tell mom you met a nice boy at church. Etta asked, "What about me letting Buck walk me
home?" Clinton butted in, "Little sister, I think that you should leave that part out. Dad would skin me
alive if he knew that I would let a boy walk you home the first night you met him!" Hester said,
"Later on we can ask mom and dad if Buck could come and take Sunday dinner with us." Etta smiled, "That would be so nice."
Clinton bowed and pointed toward the foot log and stated, "Ladies first." Etta walked across first.
Hester followed and Clinton was last. When they were all on their side of the creek, they looked up the
lane at their house. There was an oil lamp turned down low in the front room window. The lamp's flame
cast a small, yellow glow. The light was very inviting. They knew that everyone had gone to bed, and
that their mother had placed the lamp in the window for them. Clinton placed an arm around Etta and
Hester's waist. "I shall finish escorting you ladies home." The three Willoughbys continued up the lane,
each in their own thought.