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CALHOUN TIES - June 22, 2006

I am convinced that wherever I go there are always people with Calhoun ties. I do not have to look for them, they just appear!

The latest find is Arles William (Bill) Truman and wife Betty. I was sitting beside them at the WVU Emeritus Club dinner and heard him mention something about “Oka Road.” I said, “You have to be from Calhoun County!” He answered, “I am, and still own 40 acres of land in Calhoun that was a part of the original track of land my father owned in Oka.” This led to a delightful evening of sharing stories. We talked of Stinson Grocery, Chloe Hardware, the Dye and Jarvis families, and many other topics that covered a few hours time.

Bill Truman was born Jan. 1, 1925. His parents were George William Truman and Lula Gertrude Hughes. His sisters were Oita Harold, Alma Smith and Ola Truman. His brothers were Earl Truman and Denver Truman.

Bill attended the one room school at Oka for eight years and then changed to Spencer High School because of the rural roads in his area of the county. Teachers remembered are Janice Morgan and Genevieve McGlothlin. He also has as a degree from WVU in social work. He was with the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, serving in port security at New York City between June 1942 to August 1945.

He is married to the former Betty Lee Hawse (BS in business administration) of Lost River. They met while both were attending Potomac State College. Her parents were Henry W. and Gladys M. Hawse. Their children are William Maurice Truman (PhD in electrical engineering, WVU) and wife Sandy of Pittsburgh, James Truman (MS in geology) and wife Gale of Morgantown, Elizabeth Ann (AB in art education and sculpture) and husband Ray Guiser of Daytona Beach, Fla. Grandchildren are Michael Truman, Andrew Truman, Amy Adkins, Susan Truman and Carrie Truman.

Bill returns to Calhoun County at least once a year and some-times more. Immediate members of his family are now deceased, but he visits his great nephew, Randy Harold of Oka, and his sister- in-law, Zoa Truman of Spencer. They keep in touch by regular phone calls. He is retired and lives in Morgantown. Ronald and Carrie Stump of Calhoun live just over the fence. They share the Stump’s copy of the Chronicle, so both homes can keep up on hometown news. They also own his wife’s home place in Hardy County and are frequent visitors there for gardening, fishing, hunting and enjoying wild flowers.

When asked about the impact of Calhoun County upon his life, he said: “When living on a farm, one has certain responsibilities each day, definite chores that must be taken care of. My father passed away when I was four years old and my mother had the responsibility of rearing six children, of which I was the youngest. My grandfather and two aunts lived with us part time.

“We raised the majority of our food, having large gardens and fruits trees. We raised wheat, corn, buckwheat and oats for making our bread and feeding of animals. Cows provided milk, cheese and butter. We butchered pigs and beef, and chickens provided eggs and meat. There were few things we had to buy and I learned the importance of being responsible for my own welfare.

“Our family worked as a unit. The local Oka Methodist Church played an important part in our lives and was the center of our community activities. We not only received strength through scripture and prayers, but also from the support of our neighbors. When World War II broke out, I felt it was my duty to serve my country, and at the age of 17, volunteered for the U.S. Coast Guard. I then realized the importance of a good education and setting lifetime goals.”

Betty said, “My first impression of Calhoun County was the friendliness of its people. Everyone seemed to be excellent cooks. I was surprised that they baked biscuits and/or cornbread everyday. My mother baked big loaves of bread and rolls several times a week. Bill’s mother baked fluffy biscuits, which were different than the baking powder biscuits I made in 4-H.

“She also made delicious chicken and dumplings, which were always made for Sunday when the minister came to dinner. The homes were heated by natural gas and I saw gas lights for the first time. I was accustomed to mountains rather than steep hillsides. The water was soft and had a taste quite different from city water. It was my drink of preference.

“The thing I disliked the most was the red clay roads. On my first trip, the grader had just worked the roads and a hard rain followed. We started home, but were only able to drive a short distance before we were stuck in the mud. Bill’s step-father had to get his horse and pull us the entire way to the macadam, or hard road as they called it. That was a ride I will never forget.”

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