Bud Hall was a friend to all

Fred McCormick

Three and a half years ago, 90-year-old Bud Hall told The Black Mountain News, “I’ve done a little bit of everything and not much of nothing. I’ve had a good life.”

At that time, the Black Mountain native who spent nearly a century in the Swannanoa Valley had just given up racoon hunting, at the behest of his doctor.

Just weeks ago, members of the community gathered in the chapel of The Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery to lay Hall to rest in the very town in which he lived, worked and played for the vast majority of his life.

Born in McDowell County, Hall moved to Black Mountain as a child. His father Jim was a farmer who taught his son to work hard. Hall was industrious as a youth , hoeing weeds in cornfields for 50 cents a day. Going door to door, he sold baskets of fruit throughout Montreat.

“He worked hard at a young age,” said his son Jeff, who took over his father’s towing and recovery business in the late 1970s. “He grew up in the Depression, so he had to work for everything he had.”

Hall left home and enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 15, shipping out to Europe during World War II. He returned to the States and married his wife before they ultimately made their way back to Black Mountain.

Using his knowledge of the area and a work ethic cultivated by his humble childhood, Hall began taking tourists out on horseback for rides above Montreat, charging $3 per person. That was just one of many ways in which he made a living.

“He always had several jobs,” Jeff said. “Even when he was running the towing business he had other jobs until he got so busy he had to quit everything else.”

His experience as a military police officer trained him to become a deputy sheriff in Montreat before the town’s incorporation. Hall also served on the Black Mountain Police Department.

A friend of Hall’s for nearly 50 years, Sonny Slagle is one of many community residents familiar with how Bud Hall’s Wrecker Service, now known as Hall’s Towing & Recovery, came to be.

“I remember him telling me that a guy owed him some money quite a few years ago, and he (the guy) brought him two old junk cars and said that was all he could give him (Hall),” Slagle recalled. “He said he made more money selling parts off of the car than the initial debt, and that was how he got into the vehicle recovery business.”

Slagle, who served Black Mountain Police chief for many years, met Hall when he was a patrolman with the department in the early 1970s. Hall’s knack for conversation was one of the things he became known for around the community, Slagle said.

“He never ran out of things to say,” he said. “And talking to him was always enjoyable. He was fun to be around.”

As far back as Jeff can remember, his father always took time to talk to people around him.

“He never met a stranger,” Jeff said. “He was always really friendly, and he enjoyed talking to anybody that came into the shop.”

Although Jeff has been running Hall’s Towing & Recovery for more than 30 years, his dad never stopped coming in. The elder Hall remained the face associated with the business.

“He was here every day up until about six months ago when he got sick,” Jeff said. “He would greet people, go to the bank or the Post Office and answer phones.”

Hall was known for his ability to tell a good story. Black Mountain mayor Mike Sobol took a few minutes at the beginning of a recent aldermen’s meeting to recognize Hall.

“Bud will be missed; he was quite a character,” Sobol said. “He said that he and his dad would raise two pigs (when he was a child) and that a lady from Florida that would come up each spring, and they would butcher one of the pigs and sell it to the lady. He said that was what they used to pay the taxes on their farm.”

Another well-known story that Hall would tell his friends was about a “treasure cave” that he learned of as a child. He was never able to locate it again.