Wiley Oakley

Wiley Oakley - | - TOURING WITH PYLE - Roamin 1 Man of...
| - TOURING WITH PYLE - Roamin 1 Man of Mountains Has Soul Tuned To Nature Wiley Oakley's English Is Spectacular And He Is Naive And Sage At Same Time By ERNIE PYLE Scripps-Howafd Roving Reporter G ATL1NBURG, Tenn.—The most famous man in the Smokies, as far as visitors are concerned, is _ .Wiley Oakley. He is called "The Roamin' Man of the Mountains." He is 55, and all his life he has just wandered a r o und through the Smokies. He is a natural woodsman, with a soul that sings in harmony with the birds and the trees and the clouds. His Eng- essionalism has come to them both. But that's all right. For what good would the Smokies be, or Wiley Oakley either, if they remained under a bushel? * * * MOUNTAINEER MUSEUM tVELL WORTH VISITING Ernie Pyle lish is spectacular, and on many things he is naive as a baby. But on other things he almost shocks you with his meticulous knowledge. He has a house in the hills, and a rustic-craft shop in Gatlinburg. Most of his life he has made a living living as guide to hunters, and later to tourists. There are industrialists by the score in America who worship worship at Wiley. Oakley's feet after a few days in the mountains with him. He is a famous teller of tall tales (but he won't tell one on Sunday). He has been on the radio, and on one trip to -New York was offered, a contract. It scared'him so badly he took the train home without saying goodby. Throughout his'wanderings, Wiley has dropped past home often enough to raise a dozen children. They are all grown now, except one. Wiley himself has run the same cycle as his beloved mountains. In the beginning they were virginal, untouched, natural. But now they have become public characters— both the mountains and Wiley—before Wiley—before the curious eyes of a million people a year. Maybe they have both been changed a little by it; a little pro- MAR-O-OIL SHAMPOO Size ACL Bottle H-57 HYDROGEN PEROXIDE Size FORHANS TOOTH PASTE 34c HALIBUT LIVER 0 Gatlinburg must see is the Mountaineer Museum. This is a ollection of some 2000 old-fash- oned mountain articles, gathered iy Edna Lynn Simms. Mrs. Simms came'from Knoxville 4 years ago. She herself roamed he mountains long before the tour- sts came. She picked up articles, and lore, and the language of the hills. She has a bubbling enthu- dasm for everything she sees or lears,- an enthusiasm that has not jegun to simmer down even after 24 years of mountain discovery. Mrs. Simms' museum is the best collection of mountain stuff in the [mokies. And in her own head is one of the finest collections of mountain speech and legend. "Why, she has quoted so long that she alks like a mountain woman her- elf. Uncle Steve Cole lives on at his old home place, right in the park. •le is a typical mountain man of he old school—a good mountain man, the kind who lives right and does right. I dropped in one afternoon to :alk to him. Uncle Steve lit a ire, and sat down beside it and began spitting in the fireplace. He wasn't chewing tobacco, but he spit n the fireplace all the time anyhow, Uncle Steve has killed more bears :han any man in these mountains. He says so himself, and others say so too. He hasn't the remotest idea low many he has killed. But he has killed bears with muzzle-loaders, muzzle-loaders, modern rifles, deadfalls, clubs axes, and he even choked one to death with his. bare hands. * * ¥ DOGS TREED A BEAR BEFORE FUN STARTED GOT him to tell me that story He and a .neighbor went out one night. The dogs treed a beSr. The way Uncle Steve tells it would take half, an hour, and that's too long for us. But the essence .of it was that they built a fire, the bear finally came down the tree. Uncle Steve-stood there until the bear's body was pressing in the muzzle- of the gun. and then he pulled the trigger. "I figured I couldn't miss that way." Uncle Steve laughs. He didn't miss, but the shot didn't kill the bear. He ran 50 yards or so. and then the dogs were on him. And the first thing Uncle Steve knew the bear had clenched his great jaws right down on a dog's snoot, and was just crushing it to pieces. v Now Uncle Steve's gun was an old-fashioned, sawed-dff, muzzle- loading hog rifle, and he didn't have time to reload it. So to save the dog, he just rushed up to the bear from behind, put his legs around the bear, and started prying prying the dog's snoot out of the bear's mouth. "And before I knew what happened," happened," says Uncle Steve, "the bear let go of the dog, and got my right hand in his mouth, and began- a- crunchin' and a-growlin' and a- eatin' on my hand. "One long tooth went right through the palm of my hand, and another went through the back of my hand. There wasn't nothin' for me to do but reach around with my left hand for the bear's throat. I got him by the goozle and started clampin' down. Pretty soon he let go. Then I just choked him till he was deader'n 4 o'clock." Uncle Steve spit in the fireplace. Mrs. Cole was sitting on the bed, listening. Nobody said anything for a minute. Then Mrs. Cole chuckled and said, "Four o'clock ain't dead." Uncle Steve didn't dignify her quibble with an answer! He just spit in the fireplace again.

Clipped from
  1. El Paso Herald-Post,
  2. 31 Oct 1940, Thu,
  3. Page 7

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