I was born in the community of Barnesville, Lawrence County, Tennessee. My parents were George Lonnie (Lon) Belew and Rettie Mae (Hickman) Belew. I was the fifth of six children born to my parents - four males and two females. They were - Alonzo, year of birth 1917; Loyd V., year of birth 1918; Freda, year of birth 1921; Claude M., year of birth 1923; Noah H., year of birth 1926, and Opal, year of birth 1929. I am now the only living member of my family.
My parents were farmers. We owned a rocky-hilly farm of about 75 acres in Barnesville. Our farm's working tools were mules, plows, wagons, hoes, etc. This was before tractors, and even if tractors were available, they could not have been used on the hills where we farmed.
We grew almost all our food, and our total source of energy was a gallon of kerosene each week. The kerosene was used for our lamps, since a gallon of coal oil cost a whopping ten cents. The only things we really had to buy were salt, baking powder, flour, sugar, and coffee. We lived in a log house with no running water, no electricity, no radio, no television, no telephone, and no inside bathroom. We got our water from a spring, and we kept our milk and homemade butter in a little shed that was constructed over the cold water down stream from the spring. The cold water would keep it from spoiling, and the shed would prevent animals from getting to it.
From left to right: My father, my sister Opal, and my brother Claude. On the mule, I sit with my older brother Loyd. To the right, sitting on the mule, is my brother Alonzo. Our home is in the background. Names of mules: Kate, Tony, and Pete. Picture was shot around 1930 at the foot of the hills on our farm in the village of Barnesville, Lawrence County, Tenn.
My mother washed our laundry on a washboard at the spring area after boiling it in a wash kettle. She did this even when it was freezing cold during the winter months. Things were rough during the Great Depression, which motivated my brothers and I to leave home and migrate to greener pasture at an early age. We were all teenagers with only an 8th grade education from the two-room Barnesville country school, where some of our teachers were high school dropouts.
I left home at age 14 with only a few bucks in my pockets that my mother gave me from her earnings selling eggs, milk, and butter. I changed my birth certificate to make myself older on paper. I traveled to Michigan and was able to obtain a job earning $1.05 per hour with the Firestone Company. That was big money in the early '40s while the Great Depression was in full force. Most men with families were only earning 50 cents per day in Lawrence County.
World War II started and I joined the United States Marine Corps. I was sent overseas as a member of the First Marine Division to fight the military of Japan. I was only 17 years old when I became a veteran in combat as a machine gunner. I quickly became a man. After three years of war, I was, in reality, still a teenager. My three older brothers also served in the military during World War II - one Army, one Army Air Corps, and one in the Navy. With God's help, we all survived the many battles of war. I stayed in the Marine Corps after World War II, and went on to fight as a member of the First Marine Division in the Korean War against the Communist North Koreans and Chinese. I retired from the Corps at age 36 with 20 years service with half pay, which was $175 monthly.
While I served in the Marine Corps, I married Clara Evelyn Jones. We were blessed with three beautiful children - Harold S., born in 1951; Bruce M., born in 1954, and Linda G., born in 1959. Clara is now deceased. With only a weekend off after I retired from the Corps, I started another career as a motion picture filmmaker, and later received the top award.
On my 55th birthday, I retired from this workplace as my final retirement. The three goals that I made as a runaway boy at age 14 have been achieved:
1. A college education that I earned, after reaching the age of 40.
2. Had sufficient money to retire early.
3. Retired on my 55th birthday.
In 1987, I moved from southern California to the Panhandle of Florida. If I never reach Heaven, I can brag that I lived in Heaven on Earth. Since I retired from my second career the final time in 1981, I have traveled a lot and have not found a better place to live than here in the Pensacola area.
I do stop my R&R once in awhile to write articles for newspapers and now for my website - www.SemperFidelisNoah.com
Please visit my website weekly and you can read my words of wisdom. I'll be offering my opinions about our beautiful country, religion, politics, and how our government is mismanaged.