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By Marshall McClung
A favorite stopping place in Robbinsville, especially during the summertime is the produce stand operated by Bill and Eloise Corbin at Five Points. A wide variety of fresh garden produce is available this time of year.
The Corbins started out selling produce at Five Points from the back of their pickup truck in the Tailgate Market. They bought the building they are now in from Arnold Buchanan and then built an addition onto it in 1965.
Bill makes a trip to the Farmers Market in Asheville almost everyday to purchase fresh produce. The Corbins buy all the produce they can locally also. Bill and Eloise used to make the trip to Asheville leaving at 4:30 A.M. and getting back to open up their stand around 9:30 A.M. Now that it has become a ·'family affair" with other family members helping, Bill leaves for Asheville around 6:30 AM. and gets back about 11:30 A.M. Bill says there are usually several customers waiting for the fresh produce when he arrives.
Bill and Eloise say some folks have asked them why they don't enlarge the building so they can handle more business. Their reply is that they have all the business they can handle. In the course of a day during peak season they have one hundred or more customers. Bill says they have sold over 300 pounds of tomatoes and over 15 bushels of beans in a day. A lot of their customers are senior citizens and the meeting and shopping at the produce stand is sort of a social event.
This is not the first time Bill and Eloise have operated a store. They operated the Atoah Grocery for a year or so and sold it. They also operated a store that stood near the present Milltown Grocery for two or three years.
Bill is originally from Macon County. He came to Graham County when he was a young man. Bill lived with his sister Tille Gregory and her husband Alex on Atoah. Bill drove the Atoah Creek school bus. A young lady by the name of Eloise Eller rode the bus and later became his wife. Bill was 21 and Eloise was 18 when they married. The couple eloped and were married in Blairsville, Georgia by a Justice of the Peace on May 14, 1941. Bill later went to work for Bemis Lumber Company on the lumberyard. His pay was 20t an hour and he was glad to get it.
Bill entered the U.S. Army in 1944 as W.W.II was raging. By that time he and Eloise had two children. Bill was in the 102nd Infantry Division and saw action in the Battle of the Bulge. Bill said it was 18 degrees below zero and the snow was knee deep. They went seven days and nights without sleep. Bill said the Germans shot American prisoners and that this made the American troops more determined to fight and they turned the Germans back. Once when Bill and another soldier were out ahead as scouts the Germans opened fire on them hitting the man beside Bill. Bill lay in a track made by tanks until reinforcements arrived. Bill said he saw some beautiful country including the Bavarian Alps and the Danube River. Bill returned from the war in 1946. His daughter Anto recalls that he brought home teaberry chewing gum.
Bill then went to work at snowbird supply and then back to Bemis Lumber Company. In all, Bill worked for Bemis for 38 years. His last job for several years was lumber inspector.
Both Bill and Eloise came from large families. There were 15 children in the Eller family who lived in a two story house with four fireplaces and a porch that went all the way around the house. The old house stood beside Atoah Road near where two of Eloise~s brothers live, Jim and Verlie Eller. There were seven children in Bill's family which is the number of children Bill and Eloise have; five girls and two boys. They had a child in school for twenty-five years straight from 1948-1975. Also all seven were in school at one time for part of those years.
Bill and Eloise say they enjoy their business, meeting and talking with people. There are no immediate plans to "retire" in their future.
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These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina