Harold and I were in high school together. My friend said, “mmm,
I like that Harold Eanes.” She had study hall with him. So I got
to looking at him, and I thought, “Mmm.
I like him, too!” We started going together when we were in high
school; and it was just a normal chain of events that we got married,
and we had a son.
I hadn’t thought much about marriage. It just happened, I guess.
I met Helen in high school, I was attracted to her, and fell in love
with her. That’s basically it. We still love each other
very much, and I have a lot of respect for her. I never had no
regrets; she's the only one I’d want to live my life with.
I feel the same way. I loved him when we were in high school,
I’ve loved him ever since. There’s been nobody else that’s ever
been that attractive to me, there’s never been anybody else that I would
leave him for. I love him.
From my whole heart. And my whole soul. I love him.
And will ‘til the day I die.
What was your definition
of a marriage when you were growing up?
I didn’t think about anything else but, when we got married, it was
for life. I thought I would stay at home and be a homemaker and
he would make the money and bring it home to support us. Which
is what happened for several years. Then Mike died. In ’82,
from cancer. And then, about a year after Mike died, Harold fell
off a load of pipe. He broke a little circular bone in the wrist.
I started going with him and helping with the chains, and the binders,
and the tarps, and that kind of thing. Just got started going
with him, and I liked it, and it just grew into a relationship where
I learned to drive, and got qualified to drive, and we’ve been team
drivers ever since. We’d had this horrendous loss, of Mike—and
we got along so well together, and felt like we wanted to be together
all the time, so that worked out great.
My father had a country grocery store, he did some what we call small-time
trucking; hauled produce and things like that. I’ll never forget
when I was about twelve—I went with him everywhere he went; I just rode
along with him—out of the blue one day, he said, “Harold, when you get
married, or you start courtin’, all that stuff,
look for somebody like your Mom.”
How did you
understand that when he said that to you?
She loved my Dad. And stood by him in times when it was hard for
her to stand by him. He drank some. That was his biggest
problem. But he did love her, and she loved him. They both
worked hard. They worked together. They run a country grocery
store. ‘Course, she worked as hard as he did.
and Dad worked together, and my
Mom and Dad worked together on a farm. So we were sort of
used to that.
At the time when I was married, I didn’t think that much about the vows.
When we stood before the preacher. But looking back on it, I think
it was God-given. For me. For Helen. That’s basically how
I feel about it. It’s God-sent.
I think you have to put your mate ahead of yourself. There are
times you take your time,
for yourself. But if you really and truly love somebody, and you
love them beyond all else, then you’re gonna put their wants and their
needs first. You don’t have to force yourself to do it.
It comes because you love ‘em and you want to do it. It’s the natural thing to
I try to take the time to do what Helen wants to do.
And he does a great job of that.
Mike was only five months old when he had his Whilm’s tumor, the first cancer. It’s on the kidney.
In babies, or children, they call it Whilm’s.
He was so small when that happened, we put him above… everything.
I was working for a company out of Alabama. This freight corridor
was north and south, and I came through here with these loads.
Alabama to Jersey and New York, and back south. So I would leave
on the weekends and get back like Tuesday, leave that Wednesday and
be back on Friday. I was able to go to some of his ball games,
and things like that. For me, he’s the greatest thing that ever
happened in my life.
In mine, too.
Above everything else. Above everything else.
The only thing negative that I can think of was, Harold would come in
from a load, and he was tired, and he needed my attention. Mike’s
ball games were always scheduled and so forth, and—after he got in—I
might have to leave and take Mike to a ball game, or take him to practice
or something; Harold went to a lot of his games. But that’s the
only thing that I can think of, that I might not have given Harold as
much attention as he needed and deserved. Because Mike was always
into something. He wasn’t strong enough to play ball, but he would
manage the team. He did really well, from the time he was about
a year old until he was eleven. That's when the colon cancer showed
up again, when he was eleven.
One thing that helped me—Mike was Christian. And we’re
Christians. And one thing that helped me was, I didn’t want to
see him suffer any more. I think that… I mean, I just know he’s
with the Lord. He was in the hospital three months before he died.
They were keeping him alive. And he was just… you wouldn’t believe
what a trooper he was. He was so strong. He didn’t want us to be
hurt. He fought it for as long as he could, but. We took
turns staying in the hospital with him at night. One of us stayed
with him all the time, night and
day. I stayed when Harold had to work; he had to work some.
I would pick him up on Monday after school, take him to Radford, they’d
give him the chemotherapy, and he was so sick. And he would get
up on Tuesday morning and go back to school. He did not want to
miss a day of school. Before he died, he started in January taking
a series of radiation treatments. I think he had twenty radiation
treatments in January. He would get up, get him up at 5:30 in
the morning, take him to Charlottesville, he had his treatment, take
him back, and take him to school. He wanted to go to school.
He must have
set some kind of example for the two of you in some way.
Oh, he did.
Absolutely. He did. We know that we can’t ever do anything
to compare with his braveness; or I do, anyway.
I agree. I agree.
How did you
emerge from that loss?
You don’t emerge. You just move on, and go on. At first
it’s just one day at a time. It gets easier, but you don’t.
I’ve often wondered if there’s two different types of love;
I mean a mother’s love, and a father’s love?
I know, as his Dad, I had responsibility for his hospital bills
and things like that. I’ve wondered about that. I don’t
think there’s no love like a mother’s love. As much as I love
him, I just feel like there’s a difference.
I think a father will think about the ball games, and the sports, and
good grades, and that kind of thing. The mothers sort of nurture
the hurts. Their boo-boos when they fall down, and put the Band-Aids
on, and say sweet words to them, and that kind of thing. They
comb their hair, and make sure their stripes and plaids go together,
and that kind of thing. Dads are more interested in their whole
well-being, but they don’t, maybe, speak those little, gentle words
to ‘em when they fall down, and that kind
Was there ever
any resentment, any kind of tensions over the treatment of Mike? Permissiveness, protectiveness, anything like
that? Was that ever a minefield
you had to walk through?
It wasn’t for me. I knew Helen would do what was best.
It wasn’t for me, except when it was real cold, I did worry about him
going out hunting, and that kind of thing. I worried about him
forgetting his gloves, or… things like that. But inside, I knew
Harold would take care of him. He loved him as much as I did,
and he’d take care of him. But I worried about Harold going out
like that, hunting, too! (Laughter.)
In the ‘60s, we basically did what we wanted to do. I was abusing
myself. I was just doing too much. I was worrying about
making the truck payments. In ’68, I had a $700/month truck payment.
That was a whole lot, you know; and a home to pay for; and a car; hospital
bills and things. There was times
when I came home, I was too tired. Helen was so patient with me;
I just came in and basically just fell on the couch. If I had
just stopped a few miles out and slept a few hours, I would probably
have been better off, and she would have too.
Let’s talk about
life on the road a little bit. What do you do when you get mad?
You can’t go to your room… how do you deal with tensions?
Time out… When you’re mad at
some other driver, or you’re mad at yourself, or a dispatcher, or wherever
you’re loading or unloading, just cool it.
Just don’t talk.
It’s that simple?
Just time out. One of the great things about this job. Say
you and I meet. We don’t get along. You know, where I’m
loading or unloading. The way I look at it, I’ll just—I don’t
want to do anything to hurt you… we’ll probably never see each other
again. Just get through the day. Let me make my livin’,
you make yours… just move on.
Had you driven
in tandem with a partner, before Helen?
No. No. And if it wasn’t for Helen, I wouldn’t want to be
a team driver with anyone else.
Is it commonly
It’s more so than ever. There’s a lot of husband-and-wife teams,
and there’s some freight that requires team drivers; what we call A&E explosives, and things
like that. A lot of military requires A&E. Satellite
tracking, things like that. So there’s a lot of it. A lot
of team drivers.
How much time
do you spend confined together on a run?
From the time we leave here ‘til we get back!
About six days. About three down, three back. Now the last
run we were on, we went to Seattle, we were gone thirteen days. We had to spend five days out there, waiting
for another load. If we take a team load, which we—
That’s what we try to get. Is team freight.
Right. And once we leave with it, we basically run around the
clock. We cover about 1,500 miles every 24 hours. So there’s
not a lot of time to be fussing
and arguing and—(Helen laughs.)
Tell me how
you do you spend that time.
Well, we have an XM radio; CDs. But basically, when you’re not
driving, you’re sleeping. Or resting. Or paperwork.
What are the
specific challenges of maintaining a marriage that’s always moving? And what are the advantages to it?
The advantage to it, every day’s different. Every hour’s different. You never know
what the next hour’s gonna bring, or the next fifteen minutes.
Where you’re gonna be, or where you’re gonna eat,
or if you’re gonna find a place to park,
or where you’re gonna find a place to park to
sleep. So, it’s not boring.
Harold and I, we think so much alike, we get along so well, it’s an
advantage for us to be together. I think it’s all in your temperament,
and your desire to get along.
A lot of drivers say they couldn’t. They just couldn’t have their
wives with them all that time. They love each other, but they
just can’t be together all the time. And that’s not a problem
with Harold and me.
What do you
see as the challenges to being together all the time on the road?
It’s inconvenient… like, if his mother needs me. Because I can
do a lot for her without him. And we’re both out. That’s
a challenge, I guess, because he feels like I’m needed here and I’m
needed there, too. And that’s the way I
feel. That’s the challenges, I guess, more or less.
Trying to justify your time. Your working time. But I don’t
know of any challenges… we both feel the same way about movies, TV,
what we eat…
Like we’ve been cloned.
I think we have, too! (They
Seeing the problems some people had, I guess… they kinda think that
we’re faking it. But we’re not.
Give me a little bit
of understanding of what problems you’re not having, that other people are having.
Well, there’s one couple that drive together, but she stays home quite
a bit now for one reason or another. And it seems like when she
goes, it really slows him down. Because she has to stop and eat
in a restaurant. He’d rather just get a sandwich and go on, get
the job done. Which is what we do. We very seldom ever go
in and eat at a restaurant. We just get a Subway, or something
at McDonald’s, and go get the job done. And then get back home
and spend our time here, basically
is what we like to do, if it works out that way. But I think that’s
one problem he has; sometimes they just have to do what the other one
wants, although they think it may not be the best for their… truckin’. Route, or whatever. I know there are
times when one driver wants to take a load, and the other driver does
not want to take the load, for one reason or another, and they might
have a little friction there. But we
just decide—he knows what’s best, and whatever he decides to do,
we do. Which is fine with me. I like
it that way.
Do you have
a favorite adventure that you’ve had along the way?
There’ve been so many of them…
One of the, I think, most memorable things we have done is to haul the
Great American Flag. And then we had some… (she laughs.) we hauled a load of chili
peppers one time from Las Cruces, New Mexico to New Orleans. That
was our first experience with chili peppers. That was a hoot from
the time it started. When we were loading them,
they came and got all the workers, and took ‘em
back across the border. They were illegal aliens. But they
all came back the next day and finished loading the truck. The
juice would fly out and get on people’s windshields; we’d stop to get
fuel, and the attendants at the truck stops would crawl up under there
and get those peppers. They liked ‘em.
When we got to New Orleans, they run a little Bobcat up on the trailer
and got ‘em off, and they made hot sauce out
of ‘em. You know, that was different,
that was exciting.
Machinery. Whole lotta machinery.
Then, after we get to the west coast, we haul containers back to the
east coast. With something that’s rushed, or that they need team
drivers on. The last one we just delivered, we delivered Nike
tennis shoes. You name it. We go out on all kinda job sites,
we go to where they’re buildin’ a new sewer
treatment plant, or… Hoover Dam, or—
One time we went to Tracy, California—the fish were dying. In the channels,
I guess you call it?
At a fishery?
Mm-hmm, yeah. So we had to take some machinery out there, they
were trying to do something to save the fish. Things like that
On the road, you miss out on a lot. There’s weddings, funerals
and things. Sometimes I go with my brother, and I’ll realize that
he knows more people in the community than I do, and he knows what’s
goin’ on. I miss that part. It’s one of the drawbacks.
When you’re not keepin’ up with what’s goin’
on in your home town.
But I don't know. We seem to just fall right back in. We
love all of our neighbors. That’s the reason we’re still here,
I guess, one reason, after all these years. We have wonderful
neighbors, and we have our church friends. We go back to a little
country church right close to where I was born and raised. We
were married there; and Mike was baptized there; we were.
Band still what it was, or have cell phones really taken over?
It’s cell phones. I tell you what, drivers are probably the biggest
cell phone users. I mean, they wear ‘em out!
Tell me about your
I was workin’ in a drug store, and Harold was drivin’ a truck. He asked me in July—after I graduated
from high school—if I would marry him, and I said, well, “yes, if we’re financially able to keep
our household goin’.” I think
that sparked something in his mind, he said, “I’ll show her.” So he worked real hard
and he got this lot. He gave me a diamond ring in July; we started
the house in… January? And we
had planned to get married as soon as the house was finished.
Well, they did pretty good with the house, and we set the wedding date
for May the 4th. The minister was Reverend M.G. Goodpastor,
he’d been minister there for several years. It was a small wedding,
but a nice wedding. The church was full. We didn’t send
invitations; we just said: anybody
that wants to come, come. It was nice, it was simple;
but very nice.
I don’t think
I’ve ever heard of anybody just saying, “come one, come all” without
Well, I worked in the drug store; and a lot of people came in the drug
store, said, “now, when are
you getting married? I wanna come.” I said,
“okay, fine. Just come.”
Do you celebrate
your anniversaries any particular way?
No particular way.
Well, our fortieth anniversary we were planning to go out to dinner;
we were here. And our neighbor next door was really sick; he was
in the hospital, he’d had an emergency appendectomy. I called
his wife that afternoon, and she said he was just in such bad shape.
She was not able to go… I don’t remember what was wrong with her at
the time, but she couldn’t go. Anyway, I said, “don’t worry, Sylvia,
we’ll go check on him.” So on
our fortieth wedding anniversary, we stopped and got a Hardee’s
burger, and went to the hospital to see Fred. (They
Oh, that doesn’t bother us. We don’t have to celebrate any—we like to be home
on Christmas and Easter, the religious holidays, and be in our church
those two holidays.
I’m gonna go with him as long as he drives.
I guess it’s gonna be three more years, ‘cause I’ve ordered a new truck.
A new tractor.
That’s how fast
you go through ‘em?
Every three years. Yeah. And they usually have about 460
to 480 thousand on ‘em every three years.
This will be the last one. Then we’ll just slow down—if my health
continues—I’ll keep it ‘til I quit truckin’.
When that one’s paid for, we hope we can get to the point where we can
just work when we want to, and take off when we want to.
If they’re callin’ for a storm to come in, in the wintertime or somethin’,
we won’t have to go. We won’t feel like we have truck payments
to make, won’t have to go. We’ll be more free to stay here if
we know there’s a family reunion comin’ up,
something like that. When we retire.
I don’t look forward to retirin’. I
don’t. I’m thankful I got the health to work.
And if he goes, I go. (She laughs.) I’m not gonna
let him get out there by himself.
He might see some chick he
wants to bring home with him! (Laughter.)
Is that a temptation
that you see on the road that you see other people succumbing to, struggling
This community right here, I know of probably approximately twenty drivers
here; I don’t think any of them have had a lot of family problems.
They’re not the kind of people that go out and find ‘em a girlfriend or somethin’.
We have known some people like that, but that’s not the majority.
Most of the drivers are very
family oriented, and they’re workin’ to send their kids to school.
Pay the kids’ doctor bills. Straighten their teeth. That
kind of thing. And that’s the way they’ve chosen to make their
livin’, and they do the best job they can.
that you wanna bust, this is your opportunity.
I used to really sort of get aggravated with. Before we had the
cell phones, I would hear drivers on the pay phones, trying to explain
to their wives that they could not be home for this or that; or why
they couldn’t have the money comin’ home for
this or that, they needed it for the truck.
The phones would be at the place where we were eating, at the counters,
things like that.
The loads were not as good then; we had to wait more. And I would
hear the drivers tryin’ to explain things
to their wives. And, of course, I was out there and I knew they
couldn’t be home. And I knew why
they couldn’t be home. But the wives didn’t understand that.
And I told the other driver, I said, “she needs to go with you about
a month, every year, just to know what it’s like.” Because they just expected too much of their
husbands. Too much. There’s no way that they could go out
and make a livin’ for the family and be home
for every child’s birthday. Or every child’s graduation from kindergarten;
and the anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. I mean, that world
is just not reality. When you try to think that they ought to
be back for that, and still make the money to keep the family goin’.
What do you
think of marriage as it was when you were married compared to how it’s
looked at today?
I don’t know that there’s a lot of difference. There’re just more
people. There’re just more problems that you hear about now, with
the news, and things like this. But I’ve often wondered if there’s
a lot of difference.
I think they didn’t acknowledge the problems that they do, maybe, now.
Back then, I think women needed the men more. At least in our
little community. They weren’t women that went out and got a job
that easily. Some did. But the opportunities for women to
just go out and get a job and make it on their own were not as much
as there is today. So I think probably the commitment was maybe
a little bit deeper then than it is today. But basically, I feel
the same way, I don’t think there’s a lot of difference. That’s
about the only difference I can
see. I think most of the time, when men and women enter into marriage,
they feel like it’s gonna be a lifelong thing.
In bad marriages years ago there was more children involved. Lots
of times. In the community I grew up in, there was a couple of
families there where the men left their wives with six, seven, eight
The wives didn’t have any way to make it, hardly, for their kids.
Basically, the women had to raise their gardens and can… to care for
those kids. And when they got old enough, the kids had to work.
How is that
different from today, in your mind?
Probably they depend on the government to take care of ‘em; when these situations do happen, the government steps
in now, more so than it did then.
Do you have
an opinion on that?
If they need help, I guess we should help. But if they’re able
to help themselves, then they should do that, too.
The redefinition of marriage to incorporate those kinds of unions.
Let me ask your opinion on that.
I think [marriage] is for men and women.
I think it’s very unnatural. I… I just don’t agree with that.
Unnatural pretty well sums it up for me too. I don’t dislike anyone
for their lifestyle, you know, I don’t… but I think the marriage should
be between a man and a woman.
Do you think
marriage is healthy in America?
I think it’s pretty healthy, because I think there are a lot of people
like us. I think the movie stars, you know, they get all the press,
and so forth; but I think there are a lot of people just like us, that are together and will be together
for as long as they live. I just think there’s a lot of us.