A town of global proportions

GLOBE — It's only fitting that a few days before the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Globians, er, Globites, that is, Globerians, excuse me, the people of Globe were up early trying to get the slow traffic to move along.

The slow traffic was trying to make sure it was in the right place, but it wasn't that hard. There's a 3-mile stretch of U.S. 60 between Olive Hill and Morehead that kind of ceremoniously announces itself with the twin establishments of the Globe Funeral Chapel and Globe Hardwood, and then rides up to the Globe Diner, now closed, and ends with a black-and-silver funeral home sign tacked onto a red and black barn, bidding you a fond adieu.

In the between, you've wandered over a few creeks, past an amazing field of mustard flower, an antique district of two shops, a mass of redbud in full flower, a row of houses built right after World War II, a busy sawmill, a pawn shop, a tire shop, a fast-growing crop of campaign signs and one strangely incongruent health food store that caters to the kids at Morehead State a few minutes thataway.

A road off the main thoroughfare lands you square in the country, replete with lazy dogs and skedaddling deer and last year's scarecrows in fallow fields.

Buck Rayburn, co-owner of Globe Hardwood, says the air here is clean, the people are good, the elementary school is first-rate and, really, nobody knows more about Globe than 88-year-old Claude "Hawkeye" Erwin who, except for doing his considerable duty aboard a Navy ship during World War II, has spent his life on this stretch of earth.

Hawkeye Erwin isn't so sure he can let the strangers in the front door, so he agrees to meet at Buck's in, oh, 90 seconds. He's as good as his word and starts right in on how he got his nickname when he was 10 and was just about the best shot around, or maybe it was because of that one night at the gas station pool hall when they were playing 61. Either way, it was a name he earned and it stuck, especially when he worked a 20mm gun off the coast of Italy during the war.

This is kind of how Hawkeye's stories go, and you have to keep up.

Hawkeye's grandfather came to Globe around 1892, and he owned about 160 acres, "from the bridge to the tire place." He's the guy who got U.S. 60 to come through, bringing all this commerce to what was just farm land.

Hawkeye remembers, like it was yesterday, "how they built 60 with T-model trucks."

He remembers the abundance of bass, redeye and sunfish in those creeks that sometimes got to raging so they'd flood. He used to be able to go down there and do some fishing when the farm was too wet to work. Now, the creeks are not so gracious looking and not so generous with the fish.

The earth wasn't always kind back then, either. Granddaddy died of typhoid fever at the age of 54, leaving every one of his children a slice of the farm.

Hawkeye remembers how a lot of families were wiped out in 1937 when a big flood took out a bridge in Olive Hill and houses just got swept away.

But that's not giving Globe its due.

Hawkeye remembers, too, how he "walked to the movies in Olive Hill. I knew lots of shortcuts." He sold Grit newspapers — which contained Zane Grey stories — for a nickel. He got to pocket a good 2 cents of that, which was real money back then. He and his friends were regular entrepreneurs. He was only 10 when they used to stay up nights, school nights even, until midnight hooting possums. "An old man would come by through once in a while and pay 40 cents a skin. I sold those hides and bought a shotgun and a .22."

"I ain't living anywhere else," he says. "This place has everything."

It especially had Olive, whom he married while he was on leave from the Navy. They bought a house for $3,400 sometime around 1950. It's the same house he now lives in alone, since Olive died a few years ago.

There was that time, he reminds, that Ern Patton came in and sawed all the timber down and saved the town.

Asked if that was hard, him losing his beautiful trees, he says, my goodness, no, there was two sawmills in town then. "People had jobs."

Hawkeye's own daddy worked for Patton for five years, and those were the years the family drove a Chrysler.

The town had clay that could be mined for the brickyards. That was the work Hawkeye did.

Truth was, Hawkeye's done everything. He's worked in timber, oil, real estate, brick-making and sales. He also has four bronze stars for combat heroism while his ship was protecting landings off Anzio, Salerno and Sicily in 1944.

Hawkeye does know everything about here except how Globe got its name.

Down at Rayburn Lumber, where they recycle every last bit of the tree they process down to the sawdust, Jennifer Owens takes to calling everybody 90 years and older on the phone to answer the Globe origin question. We got two "no ideas" before Mavis Kegley, 95, said there was a post office that had a Globe postmark back when she was little. We even tried to ask Nancy Masters, 94, a retired schoolteacher who never has forgotten anything, but she recently "had a big ol' disagreement with the phone company, and you can't exactly reach her by phone anymore," says Owens.

Wandering down to the health food store, Bob Atkins says his wife has an intuitive ability to size up a person and tell them what's wrong with them. Then she helps them with all she has to offer here.

The couple moved the store here from downtown Olive Hill at the beginning of 2010, and it's a mite early to tell how business is going at the new locale.

"Economy's been bad," says Atkins.

Have no fear. There's plenty of elderberry zinc, coltsfoot leaf, birch bark and dulse flakes left for the Globules to feast on when they're ready, after they've fought the traffic, smelled the clean air, recycled the trees, thanked Hawkeye for his service and finished their day, spanning the globe.

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