He may be a published author living in California now, but Jack Moore will forever be a Pocahontas County boy. Moore made a special appearance at the Green Bank Public Library last week to share his inspiration as a writer and stories from his past in Pocahontas County.
His first venture as a writer was “My Outdoor Buddy,” a collection of trivia and outdoor experiences gathered together in a manual to be used while traveling.
“When I was growing up, we were all the time going camping up in the Sequoia, various places,” Moore said. “I was always making notes on yellow pads. It has measurements, mountain heights, first aid, presidents, you name it. It’s a book that, the purpose is to use around the camp fire.”
The rest of Moore’s literary work originated in West Virginia and draws inspiration from places and people in Pocahontas County. It includes fiction novels “Shocking Revelation in Pocahontas County,” “The Daughter’s Dilemma,” and “Veiled Revenge,” as well as a collection of poems “Shades of America.”
Moore’s one non-fiction book, “Go Get Eva,” is based on the life of his grandmother – the woman who raised him and the woman he called ‘Mom.’ Based in Cass and Stony Bottom, where he grew up, the book is about his mom, Eva, who was the “back-up” or “go-to-person” when the doctor was unavailable.
“Dr. Hannah worked for the Mower Lumber Company,” Moore said. “He was back on the mountain at one time and then he brought his office into Cass. He had a farm down on Stony Bottom. He would drive down there once a week, sometimes twice a week just to get away from the office.
“If somebody was sick or not feeling good at the store, he’d go see [them] wherever they were,” Moore continued. “He would tell these people, ‘now if you’re not feeling better before I get back or feeling worse, go get Eva.’ Eva was his back-up.”
Sometimes, if someone was very ill, Eva would stay with them until they were better.
“One time, Liza Sharp was really feeling bad and they were really worried about her,” Moore recalled. “We just had a big snow and at this time, my mom was in her late or mid-fifties. She was a heavy set lady. The next morning, we had two miles to go up that hollow [to Liza’s] and there was over a foot of snow on the ground. I walked in front and she followed in my footsteps. It took us half a day to get up there. One week later, she came back and said Liza was fine. That’s what she would do.”
Moore was inspired to be a writer by his mother and her life, mainly because he wanted to share her story.
“After Mom died and after I got away from home, I began to realize what kind of person she was,” he said. “If you’re spending your time with somebody that’s extraordinary, you think everybody is like that, but once I got away from home, I began to realize, this woman was more than just an average woman. She was a special individual. The more I thought about that over the years, the more I decided at some point, I really wanted to write about her life. I finally got around to doing that.”
Although Moore is a published author, he says he wasn’t a stellar student at Green Bank High School.
“Rosemary Coyner was my English teacher,” he said. “If she knew I was writing books, she wouldn’t believe it. She would roll over in her grave. I was a decent student, but I was not her star student in English. She was a wonderful, wonderful person.”
Moore may not have had the knack for English in school, but he has the passion for writing.
“I really enjoy writing, it’s just hard to find time to do it,” he said. “I really enjoy creating a character and trying to put myself in their mindset.”
Like most authors, Moore began writing because he had a story to tell. As he talked about growing up in Pocahontas County, it’s obvious there are many more volumes yet to be written.
“The one room school there in Stony Bottom where everybody went through the eighth grade, there was one teacher, Mr. Hively,” Moore recalled. “There was about eighteen or twenty kids that went all the way from first to eighth grade, just in that one room. They had these oil floors and, boy, you’d fall down and you’d get home in the evening, and your clothes were black.”
Moore remembered Mr. Hively as a stern man who made sure there was order in the school. Hively kept order by using switches on the students who caused trouble.
“Frank McLaughlin – he was the first boy in Stony Bottom that had a bike,” Moore said. “We used to watch him riding around and think, ‘oh, my golly, look how nice that bike is.’ Anyway, he went to school and he had a couple pistol shells in his pocket. Old man Hively somehow, he saw them. He sent [Frank] down to cut the switches. Well, what Frank did, he took his knife and ringed a lot of the switches so after about the second whack, half of them had broken off. That infuriated Mr. Hively.”
In high school, the switches were replaced by a wooden handled paddle with a leather strap – an implement Moore remembers personally.
“Kermit Arbogast, he was one of the best teachers I ever had,” Moore said. “One day, me and another kid got into a fight and to this day, I don’t know what it was about. The teacher sent us to the principal’s office and [Arbogast] had a couple questions and he said, ‘bend over the desk.’ He had a wooden handle and then on the end he had a leather strap. We both got the same thing. He gave us a few slaps with the leather strap. You didn’t like it, but he was an excellent teacher. I really respected him.”
Moore also held Green Bank High School principal Virgil B. Harris in high regards and said he was “fair but he believed in discipline.”
After high school, Moore contemplated college and traveled to Davis & Elkins College in Elkins to try out for football. Unfortunately, the school was unable to provide Moore with a scholarship that could cover his tuition.
Moore made the journey back home to rethink his future.
“I hitchhiked back from Elkins to Stony Bottom,” he said. “I got home I asked Mom where one of her twin sons, Lloyd, was. Mom said ‘he’s across the river at Craig Tallman’s shucking corn.’ So I thought I’d better go over there and help him. I went over there and started shucking corn. Every time I’d peel back one of those ears and throw it in a stack, I said, ‘I’ve got to go to college.’”
Fortunately for Moore, he had an uncle in Charleston with whom he lived. Moore worked for his uncle and managed to get his degree in four years.
“The only reason I was able to finish – that was during the Korean War – they were drafting people,” he said. “I was able to finish because I was making decent grades and I was in college. As soon as I graduated, I got my draft notice. I was in the Air Force for four years. I was an air traffic control instructor.”
While his life took him to other states and countries, Moore’s fondest memories are from his time in Stony Bottom, helping his mom on their small farm.
“She made her own apple butter; she made her own lye soap; she sugar cured her own hams,” he said. “I was able to help her butcher the hogs. She had a huge garden that circled the whole house. I spent half my life in that garden and she did, too. We raised everything.”
When it came time to modernize the house by adding electricity and running water, Eva’s sons were the ones to make way for the new pipes – by making a mess.
“There was a stone out there that was above ground,” Moore said. “The way they had directed and dug for the pipeline hit where that big stone was. They started digging and they realized this stone was down too far. Sam convinced Mom that he knew how to use dynamite. So, anyway, this discussion went on for three or four days and finally Mom gave her okay.
“That stone was close to the side of the house so we put blankets over the windows and Sam put in two or three sticks of dynamite,” he continued. “When Sam lit the fuse, he yelled, ‘fire in the hole!’ and he jumped over the fence, and ran behind the cellar. When that thing went off, I was in the house with Mom, peaking out, and she said, ‘oh, my, what have we done now?’ Stuff was glancing off the side of the house.”
The boom may not have been “heard ‘round the world,” but it did cause a ruckus in Stony Bottom.
“Cordie McLaughlin, her house was about a hundred-thirty yards down the road from us,” Moore said. “She was out in the yard hanging her clothes on the clothesline. A stone fell right beside her. She heard this big noise and she came up to the house. She said, ‘what are you all doing?’ She took it in good spirits. It got rid of the rock and it broke it up so they could get it out of there. I think Sam overdid the dynamite.”
Moore’s fans can only hope that story will be included in a new book.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org