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Mountains of Memories - Jimmy Stewart

By Janie Ford Lank - momthepoet@yahoo.com

James Stewart (Jimmy) was born on Oct. 8, 1937 in Franklin, Kentucky. His parents were Bill and Terris Stewart.

“I attended school in Fairfield, Tenn. until the fifth grade,” Stewart said. “At that time, I was taken out of school to work on a farm with my father. I was the third of seven children. My brothers and I had to forfeit our education to help provide for our family. Our mother was sick with cancer. Many people smoked then and five of my siblings were smokers. All five had cancer or heart disease. I feel fortunate that I never picked up that habit.

At the age of 15, Stewart decided to leave home and make it on his own.

“It was a rough ride, but I made it,” he said. “I traveled to Frankfort on a 1950 flatbed truck to pick tomatoes. For a few weeks, I had to live in a campground. Then, one of my brothers let me move in with him. I then went to work for a farmer for $35 a week. Next, I was fortunate enough to be hired at Russiaville Lumber Company building cattle feeders. Next, I went back to farm work for Lloyd Price, and I bought a house trailer in Pickard.

“I married Janet Fausett at 18, and we lived a while with her mother before getting out on our own,” he continued. “My wife was also my bookkeeper and secretary. We bought a house trailer in Kirklin. We raised two daughters, Sandra and Pam. We were also very involved in raising our niece, Jenny. We have been married 62 years.

“I bought an old truck to haul trash. However, one night we woke to the truck on fire. I guess there was live embers in the back. Next, I bought a bulldozer with borrowed money and started working on my own. While I worked on my bulldozer business, I also worked at Carrs Cabinet Factory in Frankfort. Little by little I started getting ahead.”

Stewart says he remembers a large building in Kirklin that burnt and fell into the street.

“It laid there for years,” he said. “Finally, I bought the title and cleaned up the mess. I was then able to sell it to the bank – an example of what hard work can bring you.”

One day when Stewart was in a bank to cash a check, the banker asked him why he didn’t do business with him.

“I reminded him of the day he would not make me a small loan to buy two tires,” Stewart said. “From that day he was always willing to finance my business transactions. My business grew and grew and soon I was the owner of 15 semi-trucks. I have learned that education is great, but not necessary. It is necessary to be honest and hard-working. Also, I had great helpers, such as Brian Wire, Charles Allen and many more.”

Stewart has since sold the trucks and is now retired.

“I enjoy a little gardening,” he said. “I have undergone heart surgery, but I am enjoying life in Kirklin, Indiana. I still buy and sell a little for I have always enjoyed doing that. Life is what you make it. If you don’t give up, you can reach any goal. I admire Rich Kelly, who is now our sheriff. I respect him and his entire family. The children have all turned out great.

“I am now on dialysis for diabetes, but it does not slow me down,” he added. “Sometimes women like to hug me, and I may not always remember their names. However, I will take those hugs anytime. We all need to treat each other with kindness. I am like an old bear sitting on a hot tin roof. I just keep moving.”