Jesse Floyd Jordanﾒs ﾑBlessed Assuranceﾒ
Jesse Jordan, a resident of Pocahontas Center, celebrated his 95th birthday last Wednesday.
Born May12, 1915, he is the oldest and only surviving child of Frank and Mattie Galford Jordan.
Eight children were born to the Jordans, but only four lived to adulthood.ﾠ They were Jesse and his siblings Ellis, Harry and Ruby.
As a youngster Jordanﾒs first recollections were of ﾓhelping with the stock and the two-mile walk, each way, from the foot of Spruce Knob to the Woodrow School.ﾔ Although it was a long walk, Jordan wasnﾒt always encumbered by shoes.
ﾓI generally fed the sheep and stuff before I started walking,ﾔ he said. ﾓMy mother allowed me to take my shoes off on the 10th of May.ﾔ
Fellow schoolmates, Otis Galford and his brother, Harlan, went barefoot, as well. It was the thing to do back then, but the timing of such things is very important.
ﾓOtis and Harlan went to school one fall day barefooted. It came a snow that day and there they were with no shoes in two-to-three inches of snow,ﾔ Jordan laughed.
ﾓI went to work when I was 18 running the #5 overhead skidder for West Virginia Pulp and Paper at Slaty Fork at the head of Laurel Run. The #5 brought the logs off the mountaintop and down around as far as it could reach and the #2 skidder put them to the railroad. We worked four 10-hour days and there was a swing-crew that helped.ﾠ So the skidders ran six days a week,ﾔ he recalled.
It wasnﾒt only the long hours that made the work hard.
ﾓCrawling up under those spruce tops, I was wringing wet in an hour or so.ﾠ The temperature was below zero, my clothes werenﾒt very good, I nearly had pneumonia, so I left there,ﾔ he said.
He stayed in Slaty Fork and helped lay the railroad steel for the Cass to Spruce Route.
ﾓAt that job, there was no work if the weather was bad,ﾔ Jordan said. ﾓIn 1943, I took a job loading logs on the log train on the Cheat River for shipment to Cass.ﾔ
Using his hands to describe that work, he tells of loading 20 foot logs on a 40 foot rail car.
ﾓWeﾒd fit the logs around the brake,ﾔ Jordan said.
It was on that job that an ominous off-hand comment soon proved to be true.
Two brothers, Herb and Clyde Galford, helped to load the logs, as well.
ﾓClyde said ﾑsomeone is gonnaﾒ get killed with the brake like that,ﾔﾒ Jordan remembered.
Clyde quit loading logs and went to work running the engine.
New Yearﾒs night, 1941, a rail car was loaded with 28 foot logs.ﾠ Herb wanted to ride the top.
ﾓAbout a mile before we got to Cass, right on the Cass hill, the stake broke and let the logs fall and Herb went with them.ﾠWhen we got to the switch, we were waiting for the signal from Herb, but there was no signal,ﾔ Jordan recalled sadly. ﾓThey went back to look for Herb, but when they got there, they found him and he was dead.
His brother, Clyde, was running the engine.
ﾓWhen the conductor told me, ﾑHerb got killed last night,ﾒ I felt like going on home myself,ﾔﾒ he said. ﾓGlad I didnﾒt load the one he got killed on,ﾔ he continued.ﾠ ﾓIt wasnﾒt chained right.ﾔ
Jordanﾒs 95 years are a mixture of joy and tragedy.
He and his future wife, Hazel McClure, along with Cora and Annie VanReenen went to the 1936 Forest Festival in Elkins.
ﾓWe stayed a day longer that we were supposed to. Dad and Mother expected me home.ﾠ When we didnﾒt come home, they came looking for us and we met in Valley Head, so we had dinner,ﾔ he recalled. ﾓDad was having truck trouble, and I went on home to get a change of clothes,ﾔ a simple detail that has stayed with him throughout his life.
After getting his work clothes, Jordan traveled back to Valley Head to check on his dad.
ﾓWhen I got back there my dad said, ﾑwe think a lot about each other.ﾠ I was looking for you and you were looking for me,ﾔﾒ Jordan remembered.
ﾓI had to get on back to my job,ﾔ he said.
That job required a six-mile walk from Mingo.
ﾓI had to walk up in there and we had our good clothes on.
ﾓAt 2:30 in the afternoon, I got word that my dad had been shot. I walked out the six miles and then had to drive on home,ﾔ he said softly.
Jordanﾒs dad had cleaned up the homeplace and built a nice, new home there and Jordanﾒs granddad, John Galford, lived there with them.
ﾓ A man wanted to tear down the old house and move it.ﾠ My granddad told them not to tear it down.ﾠ That he would shoot the first man who took a board off of it.ﾔ
Sadly, it was Jordanﾒs dad who began taking off the boards.
Galford shot and killed him.
ﾓThey put him in jail.ﾠ He got a good lawyer,ﾔ Jordan said. ﾓOld man Judge Sharp was his lawyer.ﾠ Allan Edgar had been the prosecutor, but he died before the trial came up. Dick Currence was the prosecutor then.ﾔ
ﾓMy granddad got off with second-degree murder,ﾔ he said.
Jordan was 21-years-old in 1936.
ﾓMe and Hazel McClure had talked about getting married before that,ﾔ Jordan said, moving on to a more pleasant subject. They were married in 1936 and they stayed married for 54 years, until Hazelﾒs death in 1990.
They lived at the homeplace for a while and then Jordanﾒs father-in-law gave them a ﾓgood deal on 56 acres.ﾔ
ﾓThere were no buildings on the property, but I built a house, barn and everything.ﾔ
That farm, added to the 150 acres on Woodrow Mountain, gave them 216 acres to farm and they still rented pasture from the government for cattle.
ﾓWe always had a big garden and raised a hog or two to butcher for the winter,ﾔ he said.
The Jordans had five children - Richard, Layton, who was killed in a car wreck at Maryﾒs Chapel in 1960, Thelma Jordan Watkins, Patricia Jordan Cooper and youngest son, Lynn.
Although Jordan laughs and tells folks that he is a graduate of Woodrow University, he will say truthfully that he and Hazel did not have an opportunity to attend high school as the bus did not run out to Woodrow.
Although Jordan was not afforded the opportunity of a higher education, he always wanted his children and grandchildren to get an education and do well.
ﾓWhen my wife died in 1990, I had 30 stock cows with calves, two milk cows and she had 100 head of sheep,ﾔ Jordan recalls with clarity. ﾓShe helped me and I helped her.ﾠ We worked together on everything.ﾠ We paid the bills as they came up and made decisions on what we were going to do,ﾔ he said.
ﾓShe was good with the books,ﾔ he added.ﾠ ﾓI guess thatﾒs where the kids get it.ﾔ
Jordanﾒs education came ﾓon the job.ﾔ He worked 27 years at the tannery, the International Shoe Company, later known as the Hanover Shoe Factory.
ﾓI worked with Bob Gay. We rolled leather,ﾔ he said. ﾓI had other jobs in the tannery, but I rolled leather for 17 years. I didnﾒt have to wear those rubber boots like the other men did,ﾔ he said with relief.
Mind sharp as a tack, Jordan worked his hands and foot as he described the process in detail.
ﾓWe rolled the wet leather to make it soft.ﾠ We rolled it in the morning, then turned it and rolled it in the afternoon.ﾠ It was turned and dried, then went through a final wash with wax and Ivory soap flakes added to the solution.ﾠ The next time it dried it was nice and hard.
ﾓThe vibrator made 140 strokes a minute and you had to keep time.ﾠ I worked the pedal on the floor to put the hide under the roll.ﾠ You stepped on the pedal and it held the roll against the leather.ﾠ We rolled 80 bins an hour. ﾠ Each piece was 18 inches to two feet wide and about three feet long,ﾔ he laughs now when he talks about it.
Jordanﾒs life has made him tough as leather, but he has a soft heart. He gets misty-eyed when he recalls the kindness of others toward him.
The secret to his longevity, ﾓI took good care of myself these last few years,ﾔ he said.
ﾓWhen I worked on the log train, I had some bad habits and even when I worked at the tannery,ﾔ he admitted.
But a life-long change came about when his wife was expecting their daughter, Patricia.
ﾓShe always had a lot of trouble in childbirth,ﾔ he said. ﾓI was worried about Hazel.ﾠ It was in 1947. I said if God would take care of her and let things work out, Iﾒd give my heart to Him,ﾔ he said quietly.
ﾓI havenﾒt smoked a cigarette or drank a beer since that time.ﾠ But still, I havenﾒt lived the best life.ﾠ Iﾒve made a lot of mistakes,ﾔ he said.
Many folks would argue with that.
His friend, Gail Lesure, Deaconess in the United Methodist Church, for one.
Lesure taught a Bible study at the Edray Methodist Church where Jordan attended for many years.
One day she called him and said she was sick.
ﾓShe asked me to come by her house and pick up her books and teach that night,ﾔ he said. ﾓI did, and on Sunday morning I told her that I had her books in my car.ﾠ She said she would get them but she wanted to take me to dinner. I told her I would go, but next Sunday would be my turn.ﾔ
That was the beginning of 10 years of Sunday dinners for them.
Lesure, who now lives in Clarksburg, visited Jordan on his 95th birthday.
Jordan is known at Pocahontas Center for his Bible knowledge and for his memorization of the hymnbook.
There is a peacefulness that surrounds Jesse Jordan and its source may be found in the words of one of his favorite hymns.
ﾓPerfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest.