John and Jean Hunter

Hunterís Shell Station was located near the building that now houses Cowboy Country boot store, formerly Jís Shoes, on West Main Street. Many years ago, the Cowboy Country building was a restaurant known as the Cedar View Inn.

 

A few miles outside of the city limits of Livingston in the direction of Hilham, a street called Longview Lane leads to the home of a couple that Iíve known most of my life. The wife was a very good friend of my motherís during the years I was growing up, and I have some very fond memories of being in their home Ė too many times to even think about counting Ė when they lived on West Main Street in Livingston. Their names are Jean (Ogletree) Hunter and John Hunter. Jean is the daughter of Elbert Ogletree and Julia Ann (Rose) Ogletree. Counting Jean, there were eight children in her family, whose names are Nell, Bessie, Felix, George, Dale, Speck and Joyce. John Daugherty, (pronounced Darty), a black man who stood well over 6 feet tall, lived in a little cabin on the Ogletree farm. In exchange for helping around the farm, he shared the noon time meal every day with the Ogletree family, and Jeanís mother would always fix something for him to take home with him for supper each night, too. He lived and worked on their farm for many years, as well as having a job with the Wisner family helping out around the bus station in Livingston.

John Hunter is the son of W.L. Hunter and Julia Evelyn Swift Hunter. Johnís father was a Church of Christ preacher. He has two brothers, Durell and Clyde, and one sister, Evelyn. Johnís home was in the Holly Springs Community, and Jean grew up at Walnut Grove. They met through mutual friends, Clifford and Magadeline Holman. Before Jean actually met John in person, she said she didnít like him at all, that he seemed to have an attitude about himself that she didnít care for at all, and that he was not someone she really wanted to get acquainted with. But as it turned out, she was wrong, and a courtship began that consisted of a lot of going to meetings, an expression that meant they went to church gatherings. It was through these meetings that they and most other young people of that time period courted.

One of the things they once did outside of attending church together was going to see Gone With The Wind at the Dixie Theater in Livingston. Jean and John also visited in Clifford and Magadeline Hol-manís home some before getting married. The Holmans had an old Victrola, and the four of them sat by the fireplace and listened to music from the Victrola as a means of entertainment. While growing up, Jean attended school at Walnut Grove and completed the eighth grade. Johnís education consisted of grammar school at Holly Springs, high school at Hilham, where he graduated in 1936, and college at Burette College in Spencer. He then transferred to David Lipscomb in Nashville. After completing his college education, he took a teaching position at Flatt Creek. He later taught at Holly Springs.

After a courtship of about six months, Jean and John were married by Justice of the Peace Artie Hodges in his office on June 27, 1941. Bush and Annie Taylor served as witnesses to the young coupleís wedding. Jeanís dress was a navy blue crepe with a heart shaped lace front. For accessories, she wore a large white hat, white shoes, and carried a white purse. John had a light gray and white pinstriped suit, with a white shirt and a tie with gray and blue stripes. Jeanís sister, Bessie, cooked a big wedding supper for them, and after the ceremony was over, the couple walked to Bessie and her husband Elmer Sellsí home on Goodpasture Street to share their first meal together as husband and wife. Their honeymoon night was spent in the home of another of Jeanís sisters, Nell, who was married to Jack Weems. Nell and Jack were kind enough to go to the home of Jean and Nellís parents for the night so the newlyweds could be alone on their wedding night.

 

The Weemsí home was near what was known then as Dillon pond, then later as the Doc Hill pond. After living with Jeanís parents for a while, the couple rented a house near the Holly Springs School, where John was teaching at that time. Later they moved into a log house not too far from her parentsí home. In September of 1942, their son, Johnny, was born.

Finding better paying jobs in the north was something that many people from the south did at this particular time, and so it was to Detroit that the Hunter family moved. There John found work at the Cadillac plant. It was while they lived in Detroit that John came home one day and told Jean he had volunteered for service in the United States Navy. For the next two years, he served aboard the USS Lurgi in the Atlantic Ocean, seeing duty in the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor, as well as North China. Jean and their young son, Johnny, returned to Tennessee, and after Johnís tour of duty, he returned to work at the Cadillac plant in Detroit for a short while before coming home to Tennessee for good.

 

Although this picture was made at a later date, the dress Jean is wearing is the one she wore when she and John got married.

 

For a while, John and his brother, Clyde, owned a truck together and were in the business of hauling apples and peaches from North Carolina back to Livingston to sell. They also hauled feed to Horace Myersí grocery store on Church Street in Livingston. Later John and his brother-in-law, Elmer Sells, went into business together on West Main Street where they operated a gas station and garage. Part of the service that customers of this service station received when stopping in for gas included the oil in the car being checked, the windshield cleaned, the tires checked, and the water level in the radiator checked. (We have to look hard nowadays to find a place that will even pump gas for customers!)

John later bought Elmerís share of this business. In 1952, John built a Shell service station that also had a small grocery store in one part of the building. This business was located near the Cedar View Inn on West Main Street, and it was while John ran this business that one of his good customers, Millard Brown, who was then postmaster of Livingston Post Office, offered him a job there. He called him on the phone one day when John was out working in the garden. When John got to the phone Mr. Brown asked, ďYou wanna go to work?Ē When John met with him the next day, Mr. Brown hired him on the spot, and for the next 21-1/2 years, John carried the mail in Livingston. While in the service station business, John and Jean bought a home from Ernest and Grace Bilbrey that had been partially completed. John and Jean finished building the home, and they lived there for a number of years. They paid a total of $4,200 for the house and two acres of ground.

Many good folks lived in the neighborhood, including John and Mary Sadler and their children. Right next door, Mr. Elliott Copeland, his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Alta, lived. Elliott Copeland was known far and wide as being a sort of jack of all trades and a master of many of those trades, too. He was an excellent gunsmith as well as a carpenter. His hands fashioned many beautiful pieces of furniture. While  he didnít believe in using any kind of varnish on his finished pieces, he was a firm believer in the use of tongue oil, and polished each item until it had a beautiful glow.

Alta was the only child of Elliott and Alice Copeland. They had other daughters, but all but Alta died at birth.  After her parents both died, Alta lived on alone in the house next door to the Hunters until the road on West Main Street was widened and improved. At that time, she moved from the house to a small mobile home she bought that was placed a little further up on the hill from the Hunter home. The Copeland home was sold and later moved to another location. John and Jean had purchased property where the house they live in now was built, and were in the process of having this home constructed when a tornado came through Livingston and Overton County in 1973, at which time Altaís mobile home was totally destroyed. She was at home when the tornado struck and did not get out of the mobile home before it was blown away. John and Jeanís home was spared from the damaging winds of the tornado, and when they realized Altaís home had been blown away, John began searching for Alta, not knowing whether she would be found, and if so, if she could possibly be alive. After looking for her for some time, John was finally able to locate her under some paneling in a nearby field. Alta sustained some very serious injuries that required a 5-month stay in a hospital in Nashville, followed by 9 months in Overton County Nursing Home. When she was well enough to come home, it was to John and Jeanís home on West Main Street that she was taken. When they moved into their new home on Longview Lane, she moved with them. She lived with them there for the remainder of her life.

John and Jean have always been a couple who did things together. Jean is one of the few wives I know of who shares the husbandís interest in sports programs on television. She is as familiar with the current sports teams on television as most men are, and she and John watch a lot of ESPN together. They once owned a houseboat that was docked at Keisling Bottom back in the days when the Corps of Engineers were not anywhere near as strict as they are now. Charles Cooper helped John build the houseboat which was kept afloat by barrels that had been welded together. The Hunters were always very generous about sharing it with others, and at least two young couples from Livingston spent their honeymoons on this very houseboat. It was also taken out by some young folks one day, but these kids didnít get very far when they ran out of gas. One of the boys had to pull the boat back to Keisling Bottom by walking along the shoreline pulling a rope that was attached to the houseboat while the other one did the steering. Thank goodness they didnít get too far up the lake before running out of gas! Jean has a lot of happy memories of the good times she and John had on the houseboat. They slept through a storm one night that blew down the tree the houseboat was tied up to, and when they awoke the next morning, they had drifted quite a distance down the lake into a little hollow.

Nearly all of John and Mary Sadlerís children spent a lot of time at the Hunter house while they were growing up, especially David, who John and Jean think of as their own. David and Johnny were hardly ever together very long at a time until they were in a fight. And no matter where they were, it wouldnít be very long at all until they would end up dueling it out. On the way home from a picnic at the lake one day, with the car crowded with other children, too, David and Johnny got into it, and after a few minutes of this, John got tired of it, pulled the car over to the side of the road, put the two boys out, and told them they had to walk the rest of the way home. He drove off and left them standing by the side of the road, but he didnít go too far until he stopped and waited for them to come walking down the road, which they did. The boys climbed back in the car and behaved themselves the rest of the way home. There isnít enough space here to go into all the tales that could be told about Johnny and Davidís escapades. That would take an entire book altogether.

Deer hunting and turkey hunting were among the things John enjoyed doing, and because he was interested in this, Jean developed an interest also. They, along with friends of theirs, have gone on lots of camping/hunting trips and have shared some very happy times. Oather and Irene Savage were very good friends of the Hunters, as were Marvin and Stella Pennington. One of their favorite places to set up camp and hunt was Salt Lick in Jackson County. Although Jean has been on many hunting trips, two trips to hunt turkey didnít go too well for her. John had built her a very fine tree stand, one that he described as ďhaving everything but running waterĒ. But even with such fine accommodations, Jean said the only thing she saw after sitting in the tree stand for eight long hours on the first trip was a woodpecker, and on the second one, she saw a fly. No turkey trophies for her, and that was the last of that. After her second turkey hunting trip, she was happy just to stay at the campsite and keep a warm fire going while the men folk did the hunting.

She also has lots of wonderful memories of the fun she and Irene Savage had setting up camp and cooking while the men went off to hunt. There was always lots of laughter and good times, but on one of these hunting trips, Jean suffered a broken back and broken right arm when she fell getting down from her tree stand. She eventually recovered from these injuries, and then in 1993, after undergoing knee replacement surgery in Nashville, John suffered a massive stroke that left him partially paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. With long months of therapy and a loving and faithful mate who was always by his side who took nothing but the best care of her husband, John partially regained his speech, and some use of his right side.

He and Jean still attend church at Walnut Grove each Sunday unless one or the other isnít up to going. They are very devoted to each other, and the love theyíve shared over the years still goes on today. When they built their house on Longview Lane, they also constructed a small lake, and for the past six or eight years, they share their lake each winter with Canadian geese. One of the male geese became a special pet of theirs, and even went with them for walks in the woods near their home. They named him J.J. and he responded to his name when he was called. He had a band on one leg, and in order to get the information that is contained on the band, John had Jean to lay down in the grass of their yard one day when they were feeding J.J. She put some corn in one hand and extended it out to J.J. and as he was feeding out of her hand, John, who had laid down in the grass next to Jean, could read the printed information on the band. He wrote to the wildlife agency that was listed there and found out where J.J. was born and raised, how old he was, and other information this agency had about J.J. J.J. stayed with them for a couple of years, but one year when March came, he left with a flock that had stayed on the lake during the winter. Jean bought corn to feed the geese for several years, but she said she decided she wasnít going to continue with that anymore. She said last year there were at least 60 she was buying corn for. One year there was a female in the bunch that came to her bedroom window and ďhonkedĒ for her to come out with food. I have always thought that Canadian geese are not only beautiful and graceful creatures, but the one trait that I most admire about them is that they have only one mate. If something happens to that mate, they never take another. They are completely and totally devoted to that one, and only to that one.

And thatís the same kind of devotion that John and Jean share. They are always there for each other, and I think itís only fitting that geese with this special trait choose to make their home on John and Jeanís lake. Itís almost as if they too know they are among people who share that type of devotion. Jean and John have many who feel as close to them as their very own parents, and this includes my brother, Phil, and my sister, Sue, as well as myself.

Phil and Johnny have been lifelong friends, and that close friendship continues on today extending to their wives as well. We had a lot of laughs and did a lot of reminiscing when my sister, Sue, and I visited in Jean and Johnís home gathering information for this story. They are both very special and really good people, and Iím happy to be in the number that think of them as family.

 

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