Eugene Hutchens and Dale Hutchens

Recorded November 28, 2009 Archived November 28, 2009 01:20:58
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ATL000095


Eugene Hutchens, age 80, and his son, Dale Hutchens, age 53, talk about Eugene’s life growing up during the Great Depression, his years as a Baptist pastor in Alabama, and his career in radio.

Subject Log / Time Code

Dale asks his father about being an octogenarian
Eugene talks about growing up during the Depression and quotes from “The Grapes of Wrath”
Eugene characterizes himself as a maverick
Eugene describes how his family had no money for aspirins or other medicines when children were sick
Eugene describes his treatment in a tonsillectomy clinic
Eugene talks about his worst and best Christmas
Eugene talks about his most interesting church
Eugene reflects on the aftermath of his remarks about Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger and the bus boycott
Eugene describes the opposition to his decision to preach at the funerals of a Klansman’s family
Eugene describes the components of a good sermon
Eugene talks about working in radio and owning three radio entities
Eugene credits radio with helping him learn to speak standard English


  • Eugene Hutchens
  • Dale Hutchens

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:16 My name is Eugene Hutchins.

00:20 And my age is

00:23 80 as of two days ago today's date.

00:29 Is November 28th?

00:32 2009

00:35 Location is WABE

00:38 And Atlanta, Georgia

00:41 And my partner is Dale Hutchins the oldest of My Three Sons.

00:48 My name is Dale Hutchins. I'm 53 years old today is November 28th 2009.

00:58 I'm Eugene Hutchins, son.

01:02 Okay dad for the last two days you have been an octogenarian.

01:08 From November 26th 1929 to November 26th, 2009 80 years what has life been like octogenarian sounds almost like a dirty word or at least an undesirable word. I've always been a Maverick a first-rate Maverick among the Sea of Mary survivors how so

01:38 All through my growing up years, especially during the terrible economic depression of the 1930s mere survival was a major concern of everyone economic survival.

01:53 Game before any other quality of life could be considered.

01:58 Farmers were completely dependent on good range.

02:03 Good crops

02:05 Coal miners were dependent on the Rock on the overhead of the mind's not falling in on them while they worked.

02:17 1938 John Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath and then a 1940 John Ford made it into

02:26 Never to be forgotten movie.

02:29 And after the joads had lost their home in Oklahoma travel along Route 66 all the way to California.

02:42 Grandma and Grandpa and unmarked Graves along the Route suffered all of the victimization of no jobs in California.

02:54 Grandparents that died son-in-law had.

03:00 Forsaken his pregnant wife and disappeared.

03:05 The oldest son Tom that killed another man in an unusual.

03:11 Rickets, and he had to disappear.

03:14 Family disintegrate at the mall and Paul Joe riding along in the old truck. Talk again.

03:24 Paul was all downcast and sad because of no place for him in life all of that.

03:31 Mall looked over at him and said

03:35 A man lives in jerks

03:38 The baby is born and someone dies at the church.

03:43 Get some farm and loses it. That's a jerk.

03:49 What a poetic way to describe life in the thirties many other ways could have been used to describe it.

03:58 But somehow life is not a jerk from me.

04:02 As a Maverick life was a series of experiences.

04:09 Sometimes it just individual experiences that stand out in my memory but always experiences that I had to negotiate or deal with and that was my concern just dealing with it getting through whatever the experience was.

04:29 From early early childhood till the death of my dear Betty in 2002. I faced each experience as something to deal with and then move on I never remember asking why did this happen to me?

04:47 But rather the thought was how can I deal with this?

04:52 Whether it was suffering unbearable childhood ear aches with no medicine for relief.

05:00 I'm walking to school in cold weather polyclad are inadequate food.

05:06 Are cool beds?

05:09 Are the knowledge of the death of an older brother soon after his birth, or even the death of a five-year-old younger darling sister.

05:19 These experiences each burn indelible memories that do not appear to them or diminish with age.

05:28 I learned early on it was not what experiences did to me or for me that was important.

05:36 What I made out of each experience that was imported.

05:42 Tell me something about your family homes as a child.

05:47 I grew up in a series of small farms near the small town and Oakman, Alabama and Walker County.

05:54 I was a fifth child of 12 children eventually born to my parents by the time I was high school graduate.

06:02 My 1933

06:05 Birmingham was some of the longest zip lines in the nation.

06:10 My father without any hope of ever

06:16 Finding gainful employment virtually penniless

06:21 Turn to sharecropping.

06:23 Downer what little rental and not already taken by other sharecroppers

06:31 Furnish farm tools for making the crop and then receive 50% of everything produced.

06:41 It goes without saying that we'd like all sharecroppers or Far Below in it poverty level.

06:49 Even below the necessities of life a big part of the time.

06:55 You mentioned not having medicine for your ear aches.

06:59 Can you describe an example of your Healthcare?

07:05 Painful ear infections were frequent curves for his children.

07:11 Even though simple aspirin might've health is not available for us because of the cost. We had no money for aspirin or even other medicines.

07:24 Many times I would lie awake at night crying with a severe earache.

07:29 And my dad will get up in the night.

07:32 Light up a cigarette

07:35 And blow smoke in my ears.

07:38 I at least thought the warm smoke gave me some relief after reflecting on it years later. I wondered if enough of the nicotine might have reach my eardrum for some relief. I remember occasions when my younger brother Audrey.

07:58 Which happened to be a girl's name, but he was very much a boy.

08:03 Had such severe head infections until his ears would rise to a puss with drain out of his ears apparently draining pus though did not do any permanent damage.

08:18 At the age of 70 for his hearing is as normal as mine.

08:24 Tell me about your tonsillectomy.

08:28 Oh, I remember that remember most vividly. I had ended the third grade unsatisfactory leg.

08:36 Do the poor attendance record?

08:39 Tonsillitis and a devastating mid-year bout with a fever prevented my regular School attendance.

08:47 Are only accept the medical attention Was An Old Country Doctor by this time in his eighties and apparently train soon after the Civil War.

08:59 Who fortunately though there's no surgery.

09:03 Everyone told my parents that I needed to tonsillectomy.

09:08 That summer after I had ended the third grade.

09:12 Dr. Waldrip the County Health Doctor set up a free tonsillectomy clinic in a large basement room of the First Christian Church in Jasper, Alabama are county seat.

09:25 Home Depot on today

09:27 My dad hitched a ride on the local pickup truck for transportation for the 12 miles to the clinic where early that morning. I joined the lion or some 40/50 elementary-age children a makeshift operating room was curtained-off in one corner of the room and soon my turn came to go behind the curtains.

09:51 There's no time to survey my surroundings. I was lifted onto a gurney.

09:57 Smothering rubber mask was clamped over my nose and mouth.

10:03 I was told by a man. It might hit son struggle for your breath in the next instant. I smell a terrible smell and laters told it was either the next thing. I knew I was welcome in 40 to 50 scared children vomiting spitting blood crying yelling with parents dealing harshly with them as they probably did it home.

10:30 I was wrong one of the many cops and Roads lined up Head To Toe Through the hot basement room.

10:38 One big loudmouth nurse was looking after the brutal kids.

10:44 I have never been so thirsty even in the Cotton Fields as I was that time.

10:52 I did explain that. All I can have was a little crushed ice to melt in my mouth after realizing how little satisfaction I received from that I called him not looking and had three of the little cups of crushed ice under the sheet next to my body and waited 4th about

11:13 It surely was wonderful to drink some cold water.

11:18 The song Big loudmouth nurse was carrying on an argument with a boy in my head. He was telling her he was going home. She said not till 3.

11:30 And the argument continued he said I bet I do.

11:34 She said I don't have anything to bed except that tub of tonsils back there taken from all of you, but I will bet the whole tub full of tonsils if you don't go home till 3.

11:47 Even though I was very much afraid of her her conversation with him did provide some distracting comic relief.

11:58 Going home time finally came and dad. Let me out the door to the waiting. Pick up doctor Waldorf was in the parking lot supervising or departure.

12:09 How long after starting to drive home and after I had been given a small cup of cheap ice cream to eat I started vomiting.

12:20 All over the driver all over dad all over the truck before they can stop the truck for Dad retriever cardboard box from the bed of the truck, dude.

12:31 Catch what I was losing one of the odd results of the tonsillectomy was it afterwards when I would drink liquids like water?

12:42 Part of what I swallowed went down. My throat part came back out to Munoz.

12:49 At home and nose anytime as well as liquids for the next year. I have no idea what happened in that operation that temporarily rerouted my swallowing Canal. My mother later told me she had learned that Doctor Who are the leading surgeon in Jasper had done the tonsillectomy.

13:11 Do you have any Recollections of Christmas as a small child all yes, I remember still remember the first Christmas I remember which was

13:23 I would judge the best Christmas ever had and the worst Christmas ever had.

13:31 We were living in the Little Shack of a place dad right near Christmas time got down in front to call double pneumonia. Nothing you could do but wait seem like it was about 8 days for them to pass through the crisis. He was terribly sick.

13:50 Unconscious and they didn't think he's going to survive. I got farmed out to my grandparents that live right nearby.

14:02 Oh, I got so homesick, but they would not even let me in my house to see my mother anybody. I stay that.

14:10 Christmas Eve night, I went to bed and soon after I went to sleep the lights to the window and crying and screaming of people nearby woke me up.

14:24 My uncle took me over to the window cuz all I need to do is cry when then no circumstances took Bill to the window and stood there. We watch the nearby two-story house.

14:40 Burning up

14:42 Two teenagers that we all knew.

14:46 Burned-out Christmas Eve

14:50 Vigilant back to bed in the next morning. I got up.

14:55 And Santa Claus at come see me.

15:00 I choose you been placed in front of the fireplace in front of the heart, which is a custom in that those days people expected Santa Claus.

15:13 I had an apple.

15:16 An orange

15:19 Two pieces of hard candy

15:24 Little metal toy pickup truck do not know where Santa Claus got the money or who furnished it.

15:35 But if such a wonderful surprise and then in a few days my dad passed the crisis lived and I was able to go home. So I always

15:47 Remember that is my best Christmas and it's one of the few.

15:52 That I even remember As I Grew Older when they was anything available in my shoes or socks.

16:01 You told a story before about a man that only had one leg and your dad's interaction with him.

16:10 Would you tell me that?

16:13 This is a memory that has stuck in my mind from childhood and influence me in many ways. It was about January 1937.

16:27 We had only recently moved on to a new Farm.

16:32 Small of course for us as renters. And this was a new step for sharecroppers. Dad had acquired his on Mew on the credit for the exorbitant price of $100 to the man in our area Who functioned as a loan shark of the day.

16:53 But now is renders. We were friends the house.

16:57 And perhaps upwards of 40 acres of land including pastured and so on.

17:03 We pay the owner and we paid the owners. Give me one third and one fourth of the crops produced depending on how valuable each was.

17:15 One cold rainy day. We children were playing in the dryer on the reservoir on front porch of our home.

17:24 Down the dirty muddy Road from my house about two hundred yards was a severely limited intersection.

17:34 A young adult male. Mr. Davis as we call that everybody was mr. And mrs. In both days or uncle in that depending on the ages.

17:46 Mr. Davis live with his parents a half a mile or so away.

17:51 And was seen staggering home drunk having already lost his wife and children and everything else.

17:59 Z's it recognized him and his distance says he had earlier lost a leg above his knee and wore a hand fashioned.

18:10 Wooden Peg of a leg that the belted to the stub of his leg and then around his waist.

18:17 He walked but with difficulty even when sober.

18:24 On this particular afternoon as he reached the Deep Reddit intersection and attempted to walk on the narrow ridges between the deep water fill ruts.

18:37 Hayward slide and fall down into the muddy water about half LED

18:44 We're children. Thought it was funny very funny to see a grown man too drunk to avoid falling into the muddy ruts.

18:54 As we left at the man dad came out on the porch to see what was funny when he saw the man's said fly without a raincoat or even an umbrella dad heard to his side.

19:10 Lifted him out of the mud and assist him home to the care of his parents.

19:16 Then wet muddy and cold.

19:20 Dad came back to the porch and explain to us.

19:24 That we were never to laugh at someone in trouble with it was his own fault or not.

19:32 But we would do what we could to help a lesson. I never forgot.

19:39 Since becoming an adult with that memory vividly in my mind, I am not only trying to help those in my pathway, but I've gone looking for them the homeless.

19:53 The hungry the beggar's students for that books or tuition children with needs beyond what their parents would provide.

20:03 Realizing that but for the grace of God there go I

20:12 From where I sit and look you really had three major professions.

20:19 You've been at church pastor, you've been a college teacher and administrator. You've been a businessman, but the first of those was as a Southern Baptist pastor.

20:33 What was your most interesting Church?

20:38 I'm glad you asked what was the most interesting because

20:43 All Baptist churches are interesting.

20:47 Especially to the pastor

20:53 But there's one that stands out that you might be particularly interested in your mother was 6 months pregnant with you.

21:04 Our first child and we were packing to move from our present past or into a new one and a new church a bit more than 200 miles away.

21:15 One of my old professors stop by for a brief visit

21:20 Wow there. He said I hear you were moving to such and such a new church. I said, yes. He said well, I'm familiar with it.

21:30 And within a month you wish you were somewhere else.

21:36 That statement shook me.

21:39 But I said well most ever Baptist pastor. I know feels that way about each Monday morning. I might as well join The Way We Were

21:54 After arriving in the new church, I assume got acquainted with a most unusual congregation. I have ever known.

22:04 As I looked out at that congregation.

22:07 That was a Chevrolet dealer sitting out there who own to Chevrolet dealerships.

22:15 Just a little piece of way was the Ford dealer who owned to Ford dealerships?

22:22 They were friends. They live side-by-side down the street that children played together the children attendance at the church together all during the week. They fought forever customer they could get but when they got to the church church service church activities, you never realize that they were Chief competitors.

22:45 Yeah, the businessmen in the local community followed the same pattern they would.

22:52 Compete all week for every dollar they could get in that Community, but when they got to church

23:01 They were deacons. They were other officers. They were friends.

23:07 Hope and visited local courthouse. And what's the lawyers?

23:14 I like cats and dogs in front of the judge and the jury as much as I could get by with but when those lawyers arrived in church, you didn't even realize they were lawyers just decent people.

23:29 The major religion in that hole Cannon was politics.

23:34 Two major denominations Democrats and Republicans and there's always a hot election of some kind from the local level state level National level going on.

23:49 If those Democrats and Republicans would come to church.

23:55 Mingle with their family and friends

24:00 I just like Christians talk to and you never know that they were out there competing for their political interests, are there economic interest or whatever it was?

24:13 But what an impression that made not only only young pastor.

24:20 Put on a large group of young teenagers that were growing up at that time.

24:27 Sitting all over that church

24:30 All of them had children and their children were friends and they were all friends. I have watched across the years as though teenagers moved out into adulthood. Some of them became preachers. Some of them became lawyers.

24:49 One of them are talented young man just retired a couple of years ago is associate editor of the Alabama Baptist State paper where he served Faithfully for probably 30 something years.

25:03 Another one is Head of the State tourism Department in Montgomery.

25:11 One is now in his second term as Governor of Alabama.

25:18 I have a standing invitation to lead his weekly staff Bible study anytime. I want to turn up.

25:27 At the Capitol in Montgomery the point big these young people did not go through the stage of turning against the church when they got in their older teeth.

25:40 But they have stayed faithful to their Heritage the Christian Heritage.

25:46 And I think so much of it was due to the fact that their parents.

25:53 Shared the faith in such a marvelous way every time they came to church.

26:01 What was your most difficult Ministry experience?

26:08 Lot of them a difficult, but some of them you can't tell.

26:15 One of my first ones goes back to the day of the now-famous bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the white section of the city bus.

26:32 I was very young.

26:34 An inexperienced pastor of a prominent Baptist Church about 80 miles away.

26:42 And like most Christian leaders was somewhat away of the gravity of the situation.

26:48 During your Sunday morning worship service. I included.

26:53 The boycotters and others in the prayers and possibly even made some remarks but peeling for continued prayers.

27:04 The next morning I encountered a small delegation from the church to inform me that I'd gone to far.

27:12 And was being accused off pardon the expression, but they said you're being accused of being a Niger lover.

27:23 A description series enough

27:27 To be fired and run out of town.

27:31 This was rather frightening experience as obtaining another Pastrick after being dismissed for unsatisfactory service would print prevent mine.

27:45 Additionally I had a wife and child support.

27:49 Franklin at that time. I wasn't trained to do much besides preach.

27:55 I explained to them that I thought it always appropriate pray for others as Jesus and told him to pray even for enemies.

28:04 Also suggested that they would tell me exactly what I had said and era I would correct it and apologize for it.

28:15 Little was said to me about it afterwards except I then regularly included very specifically the church leadership in the morning prayer.

28:30 What about any others?

28:33 That was another one that was more physically dangerous than the morning prayers the Ku Klux Klan.

28:43 I'm quite active in Alabama that that time.

28:47 One of the high-ranking klansmen for the widely known reputation lived in the area.

28:55 In his late fifties his wife. I didn't delete her and look for the young girl about 22 years of age from a very prominent family. This created a permanent or like struggle between him and her family.

29:11 They talked seriously of having him jail for kidnapping and other possible charges the community-at-large of course sided with her family.

29:22 That was even gossip that he was responsible for the death of his wife.

29:29 A few years later

29:33 The house that he was living in was struck by lightning and burned and it burned his young wife and two young children.

29:44 They lost their life the ugly struggle between him and her family renewed her Family Guy galvanized the community against him with the flame torch the house himself though. There's no evidence that he did because he was at work some 50 60 miles away on the construction Tyler on the episode occurred.

30:12 As it was my custom to go throughout the area where there was a personal emergency. I went to call on you.

30:21 As I stood by the closed casket talking with The Grieving father.

30:28 And

30:30 Husband

30:33 He said preacher would you preach the funeral service for my family? I said, of course, I will I'll help you any way I can.

30:43 Why are you asking me considering the fact you hardly know me his response was no other local Pastor would do it for him.

30:53 Well, I had a delegation the next morning of women.

30:59 I said it's not too.

31:02 Very nice. If you'd be doing a funeral for two Cooks kunzman Family is not a good witness for you.

31:10 Very very charged situation that day the local sheriff's told me.

31:16 That they expected trouble, but he said to her will look after everything.

31:24 We suspected there were planes clothes men around suspected there other law enforcement agencies besides his

31:33 And we arrived on the church grounds that day with a large crowd that couldn't even get in.

31:41 And it was very charge a lead the delegation into the church. We had the funeral with her family sitting on one side his family sitting on the other side the sheriff and told me that. Be safe until I got in the pulpit.

31:57 The interesting thing even though we knew there were probably a lot of concealed guns that with no problem whatsoever.

32:06 Later that afternoon. I returned to the site that you was my custom to return to the side and say prayers for the family and all concerned. I drove up to the cemetery where we buried his family and they're The Grieving husband stood all alone.

32:27 I walked that be put his arm around me. I put my arm around him. We stood in for a long time. We talked about Jesus and his teachings.

32:36 Make a long story short

32:40 He said in John the local Baptist Church.

32:43 I was told by knowledgeable people that is Ku Klux Klan days were over.

32:50 I was always grateful.

32:53 That I remain faithful to what I knew I needed to be doing.

32:59 What do you think makes a good sermon?

33:04 Communication of information is best buns in story form in music form.

33:13 The Lord did not give me any talent in music Avery but I discovered even as a small child the old preachers that I would hear.

33:24 Ones that knew how to illustrate was stories for the ones that were classed as great preachers so early on I got on to that one of my great mentors and the ministry was Doctor Warren Angel Pastor down in Miami, Florida who is internationally known for his illustrations.

33:47 I took special training.

33:50 How to illustrate Sherman's because you can take a sperm and it looks real good on paper. But if it's not delivered very well, then it'll be Plasti Dip or sermon sermon on paper. But if it's delivered interesting me and well then it be classed as a good sermon.

34:10 Stories make the different stories preached the sermon Windows some people call them if I have any particular skills in public speaking. It was I knew how to handle stories.

34:25 We got five minutes left. You want to skip radio and go to teachers or you want to do radio and realize we'll skip teachers and so forth.

34:34 Let's do radio, okay.

34:39 Radio has been important to you for as long as I have been alive.

34:45 What was your first introduction to the radio?

34:52 Interesting enough

34:55 Radio

34:58 Crossed years with my window to the world for me brought the world to me.

35:06 And through radio a lifetime of good experiences.

35:12 But 1934 small child and family moved across the street from us a little girl about 5 years old became my playmate.

35:23 And

35:26 She took me in her house one day to get a toy for us to play with and her family were all sitting around a little cabinet in the house.

35:35 And people were talking out of that cabinet and they were laughing but I had never heard people talk without being able to see them. I couldn't understand it, but I couldn't understand where they're coming from when I got home and it's telling my mother about it. And she said what was a radio in that radio fix the sound up out of the air. Well, I couldn't figure out how well a radio in a piece of furniture could pick up something out of the air. I couldn't hear so that remained great mystery to me.

36:10 What about the next time next time?

36:15 + 19 +

36:18 36 / 8 long there when my uncle bought out

36:26 Green-eyed RCA radio for my grandmother. I heard she had one. So I went sailing over to learn something about it surely not she had one but she would let me get near it and when you get through listening or soap operas in the afternoon should rolleicord you unplug it rolleicord around it. Put it away. She wouldn't let me get it anywhere near I could just see the knobs from a distance.

36:50 The big thing that could change my life about the advantages of radio on 2019 and 1945. The war was over in Europe and the power company at run a power line in front of our house and we had to what would go for drop sockets pull cord lights in the house. No wall plugs, but Dad got a whole $30 and bought a Zenith 6 tube radio and when that happened I just became intrigued with it. I went down and made friends with Ledford Cobb.

37:33 Who was good gotten out of the military early? He introduced me to electronics introduced me to a car spawn discourse and who?

37:47 The delightful world of amateur radio and I had wanted to be an amateur radio operator. So I became his Pest and he became my mentor and radio opened up whole world to me. I can remember listening inside an early age 1 to be a Baptist preacher. I listen because I discovered it on the radio. They spoke a different language. Do what I did Standard English.

38:17 And that's where I learned to speak English.

38:20 It became radio became an interesting hobby for me lifelong hobby. It's meant that I was able to get a about a 30 hour a week job while I was in college.

38:35 And it sure May well and then near the end of my working years. I gained an interest in three different commercial radio stations. I bought an AM station got a license for an FM Class A put it on the air and a one of two bidders for another one when I had to retire to take care of Alzheimer's patient wife, and I sold it and that ended my career.

39:08 Okay, you're 18 now.

39:11 You seem to be an excellent Health intelligent.

39:15 Good financial situation. You been a widower for 7 1/2 years. What are your future plans? I have too many not enough time to do them continue to do research in my academic area read a lot of interest books interesting books and to go shooting right now for a Gold Wing motorcycle already have license to ride one. I plan to love.

39:45 Get pilot's license in another year, so.

39:52 Then there's also

39:56 A lot of travel. Travel 50 200,000 miles a year in my car. But the big thing is the grandchildren the great-grandchildren and hope related great-great-grandchildren.

40:12 Well, I grant our great-grandchildren. I have to work a little little bit little bit older for you to have the great great grandchildren. So you going to have to be around at least another 15 years.

40:23 Thank you, Daddy. Thank you very much for your time.