ORBIE ARRIE BETHUNE
Orbie Arrie Bethune, the fourth son and seventh child of Robert Oliver and Lillie E. Cox Bethune was born January 5, 1907. He married Ruby Lousilvia Adkins on April 11, 1926 Ruby was born August 14, 1911.
Orbie was born at Buck’s Pocket, DeKalb County AL. His daddy, “0llie” Bethune, moved to Brown Town near Henegar, AL. , around 1912 where he operated a grocery store until 1920. He sold the store and moved to North DeKalb County near Union Church which was not far from the Georgia line. Orbie was thirteen years old when they made this move. “0llie” bought sixty or eighty acres, I’m not sure, but, he finished raising his family at this location.
Orbie helped on his family’s farm until he was about nineteen at which time he got a job at Crane Enamel Co in Chattanooga, TN.
Orbie and Ruby L. Adkins eloped in 1926 and were married in Rossville (Walker County) GA. When the stock market crashed in 1929, they already had two small daughters Orbie was laid off at Crane Enamel Co and the economy hit rock bottom. He could not find work in Chattanooga, so he moved and started working on farms for other people. Farm labor pay was around 50c a day. When he could find saw mill work, it paid about lO cents an hour. This went on till about 1938 when he found a job with Davis Wells. Davis Wells said that Orbie was the best edgerman who had ever worked for him.
Most of Orbie’s employers fixed it with a local grocery store for him to get credit for groceries until they could sell a load of lumber. The miners sometimes pawned their mining tools to buy groceries for their families.
Davis Wells was saw milling on Etna Mountain, Marion County, TN, so, Orbie moved to Etna Mountain, then back to Whiteside, TN in the fall of 1939 and got a job with the W. P. A. It paid approximately $2.00 a day. They built culverts and installed them in the roads and also picked up rocks with which they built rock walls along the road sides. Whiteside was all gravel roads at that time.
By the time I was nine years old, I could count nine times we had moved following saw mill work. Orbie seemed to take the hard times in stride and on many of his jobs, would have to walk two or more miles to and from the job sites. Most days he didn’t get home until after dark.
Orbie enjoyed playing the harmonica. In the thirties, this was the only amusement that he could provide for his family and he was good at it, too. He liked to blow the Train Song and make the train with his feet. He sounded just like a train when he blew the whistle.
While living at Whiteside, Orbie bought a horse and an old Gee Whiz scratcher and made himself a Hoover wagon and farmed the Earne Young’s property that year.
He moved back to Jackson County near Ider, AL in 1941 and made a crop there. He managed to buy a sixty acre farm in Jackson County from Schrader in the fall of 1942. The place was called the old Burke Place. He cleared about fifteen acres, farmed and improved the place for about four years. In 1946, he sold it to James (Bub) and Flora Lewis for $1,300.00 and due to my mother’s health, they moved back to DeKalb County where he bought another farm. He later sold it and bought forty acres of wooded land on Reeves Cemetery Road in Dade County Georgia on Sand Mountain.
I guess Orbie got the pioneer spirit when he bought the wooded land. He built a small barn and did some land clearing. He started building the house in the Spring of 1948. While he was building his home, someone burned his barn. He lost a bunch of his tools, feed and two dressed pork hogs that were salted down for eating. He went to work in Chattanooga along about that time and farmed too. He would farm in the mornings and work the evening shift. I can still see and hear my mother, while standing in the kitchen door calling my dad to come and eat dinner before having to go to work on the evening shift. He was usually running late and would often have to run part of the way to catch his ride which was a good two mile walk. This went on for several years.
Orie was a good craftsman. He was noted for making handles for axes, hoes, hammers and just about anything else. He could build just about anything and was also a good tin smith.
Orbie Arrie Bethune died August 5, 1985 and Ruby died November 20, 1980.
They had ten children: Mary Ruth, 0llie Mae, Brinie Osbin, Onvil Florine, Verline R., Lariel Benuard, Davis Talmade, James Guinn, Silvia Dian, Wonda Ranee. Refer to individual articles for the above children. (Submitted by Brinie O. Bethune.)