Bill Carroll Brinkley was born on July 27, 1917 in Elk Park in Avery County to David Brinkley (b. July 24, 1879 – January 1971) who was from Grassy Creek near Spruce Pine, North Carolina and Carroll Ivey Brinkley who was from Chester, South Carolina, and he had five siblings including a twin brother. He graduated from Cranberry High School in 1934 then started working in the family hardware store and served briefly in the U.S. Army enlisting in February 1945. He died on March 20, 2001 at the age of 83.
During the interview he reflects on a happy childhood during the Depression partly because everyone was self‐sufficient and raised their own food. He provides several anecdotal stories about his education, the family owned Brinkley Hardware Store in Elk Park, religion and local churches, the origin Elk Park, the railroad, the Cranberry mine, and tourism in Avery County. He also discusses collecting herbs and rationing during the Depression and relates stories about panthers and the Brown Mountain Lights.