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Interview conducted as part of the Nash County Cultural Center’s Oral History Project. Dennis Davis, an African American, was born in Franklin County in 1927 and grew up in Castalia in Nash County. His parents were farmers, and he started farm work at age seven (chopping cotton and tobacco and picking off and killing tobacco worms).  He describes dusting the tobacco plants with a lead compound (without any kind of protective clothing or face mask). He started helping plow behind his father's mule Ol' Lady when he was ten. He started attending Cedar Rock Baptist Church when he was seven, and went to Richardson School Number One, near the Eggbert and Bass Settlements, through the seventh grade. There were three rooms and three teachers for grades one through seven. Davis's father worked at a sawmill on Monday through Thursday and again on Saturdays (Stanley Milling Company) and spent Fridays making whiskey, which he sold to his sawmill coworkers and others on the weekends. He also bartered with a local man to come plow his cotton field in exchange for whiskey. Davis says his father earned only 75 cents a day at the sawmill, and their income from bootlegged liquor was necessary to support their family of five. They also made apple brandy, which Davis himself started making as a teenager, and he describes the process. He says that 50 gallons of apple cider would yield about six gallons of brandy, which he could sell for fifty dollars a gallon. Davis was drafted into the Army in 1946 when he was 18 years and six months of age. He trained at Fort Leonard Wood and then was sent to Fort Francis E. Warren in Wyoming to attend Quartermaster School, with technical training in truck driving and mechanics. From there he was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina and then shipped out to France in January 1946. They went by boxcar to Germany and spent time in Nuremberg, then he got a transfer to Austria where he worked as a military truck driver and helped in the laundry. He says he received fourteen dollars a month in the Army, most of which he sent home to his parents. He's glad he had the experience of military service and got to see so many places.





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