BUCKHANNON — Kevin Hawkins, age 68, was born on December 12, 1950, in his childhood home. “I was actually born in the house I live in now, which is kind of neat,” Hawkins said. He lived on a farm in Tallmansville with his five siblings and his family raised everything they ate from chickens, cattle and pigs, to growing their own garden vegetables. “We were very self-sufficient,” Hawkins said. “We had to get the cows every morning and milk them, we butchered our own meat and canned our own food.”
Hawkins recalled going to a two-room school in Tallmansville with outhouses. Living in the country, Hawkins said he did not get to go to the movies or bowling. Hawkins grew up with the neighborhood kids, playing football and baseball in the fields nearby and played basketball in a barn loft. He was involved in boy scouts and the local 4-H club. Hawkins hunted and fished.
He remembered riding his bicycle four miles to Queens to trout fish in the river and carrying his own gun to hunt at 10 years old. Hawkins said, “When squirrel season came in, that was the thing: Hurry up and get off the bus, grab your gun and go squirrel hunting.” Hawkins also remembered sleigh riding in the middle of the road at night because of the lack of traffic and vehicles owned at the time.
In middle school, Hawkins tried playing basketball, but it did not last long due to living in the country. “The only way to get home was thumb. It was 10 miles in the wintertime, so that didn’t last,” he said.
Hawkins remembered working in the hayfields for 50 cents an hour, as well as growing and selling potatoes. He also owned a cow to breed and sell the calves in order to save money for a college fund. The practice of butchering his own hogs was another memory he recalled. “You kids don’t know what life was like,” Hawkins joked.
Hawkins faithfully attended church and explained, “It was a prereq living in our house.” After church, families gathered at someone’s house for dinner. “When I was growing up, the family unit was a much greater thing,” Hawkins said. He remembered seeing his family often with big picnics at Audra on special occasions and holidays.
Hawkins remembered growing up with only two small stores in Tallmansville. One was just a store and the other was a store and a post office. Hawkins recalled buying candy bars and bottles of soda for just five cents each. There was a deposit on soda bottles where you could return the bottle to get your money back. “It helped with the litter problem. They need to start it again,” Hawkins asserted.
In town, almost everything was family owned. Along Main Street, there was a five and dime, American Furniture and Shorty’s Pool Room, who Hawkins said sold “the best hot dogs ever made.” He recalled that there were also a few places to buy cars, including Bud Bennett Motors, Hyden’s car dealership, and a Buick and Pontiac dealership.
In high school, Hawkins got his license at 16 and drove a pick-up truck. Back then, he said a date consisted of going to church if there was a revival or a social with cake and desserts. Hawkins remembered meeting his wife, Jeani True Hawkins, at Stardust. Hawkins also raced a 1969 Oldsmobile 442 and remembered taking first place one night against a van.
Hawkins got his Associate’s Degree in Accounting at Fairmont State College in 1970, then was drafted right into the Army. He served from 1970 to 1972, went to Vietnam in 1971, and received a Purple Heart as a combat veteran.
Hawkins later worked in the coal mine industry at Grand Badger as a Shift Foreman for 17 years in upper management. Hawkins then owned construction, gutter, and concrete pumping companies until he retired in 2012. He remembered having a pump and hose that could pump concrete 100 feet onto the top of buildings.
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Hawkins took his construction expertise to help build concrete orphanages. Hawkins said he has volunteered on 13 mission trips. Now, he continually works with youth for mission trips and helps the Young Life program. Hawkins is also a Teen Challenge sponsor and works with Buckhannon’s Band of Brothers.