BIOGRAPHIES of HENDERSON COUNTY

AUBURN POWERS

Auburn Powers is well known in Lexington and other sections of Henderson County. He is led a varied life with a number of decisive events. born at Middleburg, 10 miles East of Lexington, he wsa the youngest of the seven children born to the late Sherode and Annie Powers. He grew up slowly and as timid, he says. At the age of 13, he weighed 70 pounds. Four years later he still weighed 70 pounds. However by the time he was 20 he had grown to be 6 foot tall. He called himself a bean pole.

Auburn says he had no interest in school until his older brother, the late Ira C. Powers, came to teach a summer school at Judson which Auburn attended. He was an indifferent student, but as a seventh grader, he accepted Ira C.'s invitation to go to Scotts Hill and enter school where his brother was principal. Auburn finished the 8th grade and two years of high school there, later transferring to Lexington High School from which he graduated in 1926.

It is interesting to note that Auburn's nephew, Ira C. Powers Jr., is now Lexington High School principal. His father Ira C. Powers Sr., served as Henderson County's Superintendent of Schools a number of years ago. The biggest decision of his life was made when Auburn left home to enter University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he majored in Education with a minor in history. He was able to pay his way through college by firing furnaces and taking care of lawns and yards on campus. This paid his room rent, and he waited on tables for his board. On the few occasions when he came home, he hitch-hiked. He is sure that had it not been for the encouragement of his older brother and his sister, Gertrude Powers, also a teacher, he would not have gone to college.

At one tiime he managed a short vacation trip to Central America where he secured a job as assistant plantation supervisor for United Fruit Co. in Honduras. He found an abundance of bananas there. After a stay of a few months, he returned to the states and worked during the wheat harvest in Kansas and Canada. Though not a college graduate yet, he taught at Judson Junior High School for two years, serving as principal, teacher and coach for basketball teams, both girls and boys. His finances recouped, he returned to college for his last two years. He went to Sardis in 1932, remaining eight years, being principal and teacher of English and Science as well as coach for both basketball teams.

It was at Sardis that he met and fell in love with one of h is teachers, Mary Blevins, who was teaching first grade. At first she was unawae of his serious intentions since she was simply invited to go with the basketball teams as chaperon on trips out of town. They were married in June 1933 and continued to teach at Sardis until 1839 when they moved to Savannah. While at Sardis, Auburn succeeded in securing a school bus for his students, the first one in Henderson County. At Savanna, he taught English and Economics and again coached the ball teams.

About this time another big decision had to be made. He felt there was no future in the teaching profession in this part of the coutnry. His salary was $100 a monthy and he and his family could not live on that, so he decided to go west. He says he took the $80 they had accumulated and left Mary to finish out his school in Savannah. It is a touching story as he tells of bidding his little school boy good bye and catching a ride in a truck to Memphis. Other kind hearted truckers gave him rides to Little Rock and Hot Springs. Finally a real "Good Samaritain" gave him a lift all the way to Los Angeles, paying for food and lodging along the way. The friend was a part time policeman. He helped Auburn find a job. The first one was business partnership raising white rabbits for food and pelts. Auburn did the work; the partner furnished the stock and materials. Their goal was 300 does. The rabbits were sold on foot at 20 cents a pound, usually weighing 4 pounds. A truck picked them up at the ranch.

By this time Auburn's family - Mary and their 3 little boys - had arrived in California. Mary recalls the temperature was 115 the day she got there. Auburn was no superintedent of a 1200 acre ranch. Cotton and alfalfa were the crops. It was necessary to irrigate, but the cotton grew 6 feet high. One of the little Powers boys got lost in the tall cotton. Auburn was paid $150 a month with a house furnished, a garden, chickens and cow. Cotton yields declined, so the family moved to Oxnard where Auburn sold life insurance and taught 6th grade Mexicans "Overage, under educated and over talkative." They moved back to Tennessee, then on to Alabama where Auburn taught in Huntsville Junior High, later working in a chemical warfare plant making mustard gas. They went back to California where he became superintendent of a larger ranch near Inyokern. A short time of working in a pumice mine was followed by their return to Bakersville where Auburn worked for Union Oil Co., and a Paleontology Lab studying samples from deep in the earth to help determine the possible location of oil.

Next followed 12 years in Life Insurance where he was manager of Equitable Life Insurance Society in Bakersfield and Fresno. He made many trips to conventions. The last few years in California (4 to be exact) were spent in Real Estate where he dealt principally in ranches and farm lands. Auburn and Mary moved back to Tennessee for good in 1973. They bought the old home place at Middleburg; cleared 60 acres, fenced it and turned it into a cattle farm. He buys young cattle in the spring, sells in the fall. He is interested in good crops, grapes, muscadines, and fruit trees all of which are coming into bearing age on the Middleburg Farm. Here in Lexington at their home on Boswell St., he has a large vegetable garden with fruit trees and berries. His hobbies are tending his muscadines and vineyard, his honey bees, gardening and golf.

He is perhaps best noted here in this county as a former teacher and the author of the first History of Henderson County 1930. He was the major organizer of the Senior Citizens Center, serving as its first chairman of the board. He is a member of the Rotary Club, First United Methodist Church where he is a mens' Sunday school class teacher and on the Board of Trustees. He and Mary are the parents of three sons; Bobby "Jerry", Andy and Mary.
Interesting People -- from the Lexington Progress 17 September 1980

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