By Ralphine Major
His words have been like a walk through history back when life was simpler. The late Woodrow Luttrell took time to document such a lifestyle. “For school clothes, some of us children looked forward to the beginning of the fall school term as we boys would usually get two new pairs of overalls and two blue denim shirts. In grammar school years, for Sunday, we mostly wore knickers, pants that were from the waist down only to the knees, with elastic in them at the bottom to hold in place,” he wrote. “Soon we began to get into long pants and low-cut (oxford) shoes.”
According to Woodrow, tennis shoes were a big deal in those days. “In the spring, we looked forward to getting a new pair of tennis shoes that cost about $2. These were to last all summer, perhaps even into the fall; but, they were not suitable to wear when plowing or doing field work. One could always run much faster in tennis shoes when playing ball, ‘hide & seek,’ and other running games. They were ‘a must’ when we started playing tennis. Old tennis shoes were kept as long as useful for wading small streams when seining for minnows and crawfish to use for trotline bait on Holston River. After getting sweaty, they could be washed with a little soap, rinsed good, and set out in the sun to dry to kill the odors.”
Starting in April and through the summer, the children looked forward to going barefoot. “One of the bad things about that was stepping on a piece of broken glass or a sharp ‘stob’ as we called them, after which our parents would say, ‘you’d better start wearing those tennis shoes.’ Shirts, shoes, socks, overalls, summer straw hats, sweaters, winter caps, and denim jackets both lined and unlined, could be bought at most all country stores,” Luttrell recalled.
During Woodrow Luttrell’s childhood years, possessions were few and treasured. “As I grew a little older, for some reason I always wanted some Army pants—like those used in World War I,” he recalled. “They were the kind that fit tightly around the legs from the knees on down and knee-high leather boot shoes were usually worn with them.” When Woodrow started earning a little money trapping and selling dressed wild rabbits, he bought a pair of boots. They were treated with a special saddle soap to preserve the leather and to help waterproof them. “I used those boots in the wintertime, mostly for hunting and working outside and kept them until after graduating from The University of Tennessee,” he wrote. “By then, they were really too little and my trusted boots had to be tossed.”
Woodrow graduated from UT in 1938 and headed to Wayne and Perry Counties to work for UT Ag Extension. His earl y life in Corryton served him well in his successful career in the field of agriculture, though he never forgot those early childhood years. This concludes the segments from Woodrow Luttrell about life as he remembered it nearly one hundred years ago! What a fascinating look at life back when . . . .