BUCKHANNON — Leo Talbott was born at his home in Tenmile, West Virginia, in a little shack, and was raised here in Buckhannon.
Talbott remembers that Tenmile had “practically nothing there.” He grew up on a farm with six siblings and went to school in Ivy, WV. Talbott explained his childhood consisted of farming, raising chickens and cows, and living off what they could grow. “We never went hungry, but it was hard work,” Talbott said.
Talbott expressed there was not much to do in his teenage years but drag race cars. Having the fastest car in town was always the goal. “I never had the fastest car in town, but boy I ran with the guys that did have them,” Talbott said with pride. He specifically remembered one of his friends had a fast four-door ’62 Ford. “People would come from out of state to race him and win money,” Talbott recalled.
After graduation, Talbott knew he had to get away from the farm life, unlike his father’s expectations for him. The day he graduated, he went to Buckhannon and tried to get a more permanent job at his part-time place of employment. When he couldn’t, he went to American Furniture to look for a job. They taught Talbott how to lay carpet and once he realized how easy it was for him, he made it his career until his 40s.
In the 1970s, he went to Vietnam as a gas and diesel mechanic. However, after he got there, his boss reassigned him to do transcriptions because he had typing in 12th grade. “I took that class because that’s where the ladies were,” Talbott said. He spent his time in Vietnam typing up the major components for small vehicles needing replaced. When he left Vietnam, he said he was making good money as a Specialist E5 and was even honored with the Meritorious Badge of Service ARCOM medal.
Talbott moved back to Buckhannon and began working at a plant, then started up Leo’s Carpet Service. After a while, a retired veteran, Don Shipman, offered Talbott a strip job at a coal mine here in Buckhannon called DLM, where he worked for six years. He started in the parts department but said thanks to his skills he learned in the service, he worked his way up to the purchasing department, where he bought small components and cleaning supplies for the coal mines.
After a divorce, Talbott moved to Wilmington, North Carolina for a while seeking bigger money. “I loved being on the coast, but I hated the hurricanes,” Talbott stated. Eventually, he came back to Buckhannon like he always did and said, “That’s where the family was.”