BUCKHANNON — Howard Smith was born on August 26, 1951 in Buckhannon.
Howard Smith took the time to remember Buckhannon back when he was growing up. “That was the good ole days. It was completely different. Like day and night,” Smith recalled. According to Smith, there was not much traffic down main street. People stopped on the sidewalk and talked to one another, swapping stories. They traded things like watches and other personal items to get other things they needed.
Smith hunted squirrels and deer, fished, and worked in hay fields as a kid. He recalled working with hay since he was 12 years old. Smith lived on a farm, so he did not have much time to do other things as a kid. “I had hogs to feed, cows to milk. There were too many chores to do.” However, Smith did love to roller skate as a kid. He said he skated backwards, twirled and flipped. Smith also joyfully recalled family get-togethers with handmade ice cream made with a crank.
Smith said he often jumped on the train to come to town when his parents were not home to take him. He jumped the train, went to town, and walked around. When he got bored, he jumped back on the train to go home.
Growing up, Smith recalled enjoying the Strawberry Festival. He remembers working all spring to save money and said he would then blow it all in one weekend at the carnival. He loved all of the carnival rides. Now, he enjoys the horse and buggy parade.
Smith recalled hating high school. “It made me want to join the military,” he said. He did, however, enjoy shop, art and gym class. He quit school, helped out on the farm, and joined the military at 21. Smith reported he did eventually get a GED later on.
Smith joined the military in 1972 as a US Army Paratrooper. He was a part of Airborne Infantry 509 and said he spent 13 months in Germany, then served the rest of his three years in Italy. Overseas, he learned how to ski and scuba dive. In 1974, he was part of the first Paratroopers to jump into Holland, where he toured for a week. One thing he remembers about his time was being so close to going to Vietnam, but not being able to, due to not having his training done in time.
During a two week leave from service, Smith came back to marry Sandy Shipman in 1974. After spending a week of marriage, Smith had to finish the rest of his six months in the military and then came back and settled down. He taught the church how to ski and worked in the oil field for 25 years.