At 94, Roberson eager to ‘renew’

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kyle Roberson celebrated his 94th birthday on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, he was in line at the Pike County Courthouse to get his driver’s license renewed.

“I don’t want to let my license expire,” Roberson said with a smile and then quipped that he’ll be back in four years.
Roberson got his first license to drive when he was 13 years old.

“My daddy got an owner’s license and my mother and I got non-owner licenses,” Roberson said.  “None of us had to take a driver’s test so I’ve never had one.”

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In the 1920s, the Roberson family was a rather fortunate one. They had a car while not many other families did.

“We had a Whippet, a 1929 Whippet,” Roberson said. “They didn’t make Whippets except about two years and my daddy said it wasn’t worth driving home. But it was a car and we were proud of it.”

The car had wooden spokes and was “in service” only about six months out of the year.

“We could only run the car during the spring and summer,” Roberson said. “In the winter, the weather would be too bad – rain, mud and ice. We couldn’t put it on those red clay roads.”

Roberson said there was a huge mud hole on the road where his family lived in rural Mt. Hope.

“My daddy farmed but we didn’t have a tractor. We farmed with mules,” Roberson said. “We kept the mules in the barn all the time to pull cars out of the mud.”

When the Great Depression hit, Roberson said the ol’ Whippet was completely taken off the road.

“The banks failed and we lost what little money we had in the bank. Most people did,” Roberson said. “We didn’t have any money to buy fuel for the car. So, we had to park it and leave it.”

Roberson said the Great Depression really meant hard times.

As the Whippet sat with weeds growing around it, the family worked the fields and tended the garden that sustained it.

“We grew everything we ate except salt, sugar and flour. We had to buy that,” Roberson said. “We didn’t try to grow anything to market because nobody had any money to buy anything. But things finally got a better, a little at the time.”

When Roberson went away to college at Auburn Polytechnic Institute, his dad bought a tractor and put the mules in the barn.

“I grew up on a farm so I was interested in agriculture,” Roberson said. “But I my agriculture teacher was the biggest influence on my decision to go into agriculture education. He was the only teacher that was able to drive a car and the only one that could afford one.”

When Roberson graduated from Auburn Polytechnic Institute, he accepted the position as agriculture teacher at Brundidge High School.

“I never taught anywhere else,” he said. “I retired from Pike County High School in 1980 after 40 years. I enjoyed teaching and I’m enjoying my retirement.”

Roberson said he is blessed to have had a good life and he credits his longevity to “Lorene and the Lord.”

Not many people renew their driver’s at age 94 and Roberson said driving is still a pleasure.

“I don’t drive out on the road and I’ve never had but one accident in all these years,” he said. “And that one wasn’t my fault. I was up in North Alabama and a man with a trailer  cut in front of me and I hit the trailer. But, it wasn’t my fault.”