Soul of 78- Rick Watson

“I was born in the little community of West Pratt, in Sloss Hollow. Now it’s known as Dora-Cordova Road, but back then it was just an old red rock red leading to 78 Highway. Some of my fondest childhood memories are right there. I went to Dora Elementary School, and most times I walked there. There would be herds of us school kids walking up that railroad track than ran through Sloss.

There were strip pits around there and we spent a lot of our time as kids swimming in those pits and diving off the rocks. Looking back, it’s a wonder we didn’t get hurt. We didn’t have cell phones then, just a party line at our house, so everybody knew what everybody else was doing. We sat on the front porch in the afternoons. Didn’t watch the local news – you could learn all you needed to know by hollering across the railroad tracks.

It was a vibrant little town back then. Before the mines went south, you couldn’t drive up and down the street on Christmas Eve. We used to walk down to Harry Shaw’s to get malts – it was like an old-time drugstore. We bought stuff from the furniture place there. When I was a baby, I won three dollars in a beauty contest at a theater in Dora. I still have those three silver dollars I won, just to prove that I was once good-looking.

I got my hair cut at Barber Johnson’s. He cut my hair for years, and Asa Bobo, Glen Allen’s dad, was a barber there. Back then, Coke bottles had three cents deposits on them. We’d collect bottles to get a little money and we’d go to Dora and buy a malt or something else sweet. It was a fun place to grow up.”

-Rick Watson

Photo + Interview by Terrell Manasco

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