Valdosta Daily Times

At Random

May 3, 2009

At Random: Hugh Harris West

Meet Hugh Harris West; a retired professor and landscape artist

The Valdosta Daily Times — VALDOSTA — Hugh Harris West grew up in Poulan, in Worth County, in a three-room shack with an outhouse. He said they didn’t count the outhouse as a room.

West said Poulan was a thriving little cotton mill village. Although it wasn’t luxury fare, he said they always had enough to eat. West said he was born out in the country at home and was told he was named after an older first cousin. Actually, he said the cousin was about the same age as his mother.

“Mama said they put names in a hat and drew a name from it. Hugh was his first name and Harris was his last name, hence Hugh Harris West was my name. I never saw my namesake until I was about 40 years of age. He had been in the merchant marines all those years and died a few years ago. I saw him only twice in my lifetime,” he said.

His name has caused confusion all his life, he said, because people never seem sure what to call him.

West said he used to beg plants off neighbors who were well off, which he then planted around the foundation “so you couldn’t see up under the house.”

“You have to know ugliness to appreciate beauty,” he said.

West said that, due to necessity, he always had a strong work ethic.

“I have been earning wages since before the age of 12. At one time, when I was around 12, I had three jobs,” he said.

He said he concurrently helped in a grocery store at 35 cents an hour, helped deliver Sunbeam bread at $5 per Saturday, and worked seven nights a week at the drive-in movie theater for $1 per night. Each of the jobs contributed a great deal to his development and education, he said.

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