Freddie and Eddie Bush had some typical brother tendencies growing up, although struggling through the Great Depression and working on the family farm at a young age would be anything but normal in today’s era.
The brothers had their quarrels all right, but there were still rules to follow.
“We had a rule that we wouldn’t hit each other in the head,” Freddie said. “It had to be on the arm or somewhere else, but not on the head. We slept in the same bed but there was a line right down the middle and you better not put a foot across the middle or you may get knocked off the bed.“
Freddie and Eddie are twins, albeit not identical. On June 27, they will turn 90 years old, Freddie an hour earlier than Eddie. The families will have a large party for the brothers on Saturday in Eufaula.
Freddie lives in Eufaula. Eddie now lives in Selma. Born in Abbeville, the two spent a substantial amount of their lives in Eufaula due to early employment opportunities with Alabama Power.
In 1929, nearing the end of the Herbert Hoover presidency, Fred and Mary Bush added twins to a family that already included three sons and a daughter. A few months later marked the beginning of The Great Depression, a worldwide economic drought that would last 10 years.
The Bush family had what Freddie termed a “two-mule farm,” consisting of 6 acres of cotton, 10 acres of peanuts and several acres of corn. Freddie remembered stacking piles of peanuts on a sled and moving them by mule.
“Now there’s an eight-row combine that can do in 10 minutes what it took us a solid week to do. Times have really changed. Those were hard times. It was a rocky farm, too.”
The twins had their differences. Freddie is right-handed, while Eddie is a southpaw. Freddie’s hobby was gardening, and for years sold his work at the Eufaula Farmers Market. Eddie was into woodworking, making items such as furniture. The two do share a love for music. Known as the “Singing Twins,” Freddie still sings solo on occasion at First Baptist Church in Eufaula.
“We got in a fight one time in Abbeville in elementary school with a boy and we both jumped on him,” Freddie recalled. “We whupped ‘em good. I forget what he was doing wrong, but he wasn’t doing right.
“I was not an athlete. I lived five miles from the school and we had no transportation so I rode the bus, so I couldn’t participate and any after-school activities. Also, at that time I had work to do when I got home. Dad had some job for me to do.”
On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Japan’s surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base (Pearl Harbor) in Hawaii, Freddie, then 12, recalled sitting around a radio with his family as they heard President Franklin Delano Roosevelt deliver a speech declaring war on Japan, thus entering the U.S. into World War II.
“I had a brother (Henry) in Hawaii when Japan hit,” Freddie said. “They hit one of the barracks he was in, but we knew nothing for a while. Turns out, he was OK. I think he took a train to Columbus (Georgia) when he was discharged stateside, then he walked home to Abbeville.
“I had a brother and a brother-in-law in the war. Later, another brother was in it. The only way I stayed out was I was one year too young when they began (drafting), married the second time, and married with a son the third time. Eddie tried to volunteer with the Air Force but he was rejected because of leg issues.”
Freddie remembers taking a trip to Eufaula in the back of a neighbor’s peanut-hauling truck as a kid – “with a bunch of children” -- up the bumpy, dirt road close to the path of what is now Highway 431. They came to Crystal Pool. “That was the place to go,” Freddie said. “But, we probably didn’t go over 30 miles-per-hour and we were all bouncing around back there.”
The year was 1948 and Harry S. Truman was the U.S. President.
Freddie was 19 and Ruth 17 when the young lovers who had grown up in Abbeville together, crossed the bridge into Georgia, finding a justice of the peace to marry them in Fort Gaines.
“We went there because they wouldn’t issue a marriage license to us in Alabama because of our age,” Freddie said.
Freddie and Ruth have been married 71 years.
Alabama Power days
Freddie was first employed by Alabama Power Company in Headland, working a line crew job for six months. He then bid on a garage job with the company in Eufaula, moved here in 1954, and has never left.
Eddie also worked at Alabama Power, living in Eufaula along with his brother until the company’s strike of 1966. The strike, mainly over wages, steered many workers to Louisiana to work on oil rigs or shipbuilding. They would send money back and it would be divided among workers. Those that stayed picketed daily in front of the garage area on Union Street in Eufaula. “They paid us to picket,” Freddie said.
The strike lasted six months.
Eddie was sent to the Alabama Power offices in Anniston, where he remained for 50 years. Last year, Eddie moved to Selma to be closer to his children.
Freddie would work for Alabama Power for 31 years, “parting ways” in 1982, yet hardly stopping work. He and his son, Bruce (who retired from Alabama Power after 42 years), began a hog farm with 40 sows in Barbour County.
“It was a state-of-the-art hog operation,” Freddie said. “I looked after that almost by myself for about five years until the (hog) prices went to nothing and we had to get out.”
Bruce and his wife, Billie Faye, began raising cattle. He had only been retired for about two years when he began coughing. He went to a doctor in Dothan to have his sinuses looked at and returned home that night when he fell in the bathroom. Billie Faye found him unresponsive. She called for help and an attempt to resuscitate Bruce were unsuccessful.
Freddie and Ruth also had two daughters, Freida (Stephenson) of Eufaula, and Bev Smith, who lives in Arlington, Georgia, but also owns a home in Eufaula to spend time with her grandchildren. Freddie and Ruth have seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“The Lord has been my strength and shield,” Freddie said. “All these years I never did smoke cigarettes but I did experiment with cigars at one time. It was sometime in the sixties when I went to a friend’s house and Fain Dykes started preaching to me. He told me that if the nicotine from one cigar was extracted and put in your blood stream with a hypodermic needle it would kill you. I said to myself right then, ‘I’m through.’ I enjoy the smell of a cigar right now as much as anybody, but you’ve got ask the Lord to help you quit.”
Both Freddie and Eddie will be at the party on Saturday. They last saw each other at an Abbeville Class Reunion in April.