"I Remember"


Every reader of The Kentucky Explorer, no doubt, has a special memory. Why not write it down and share it here in this column? Help preserve the story of our vanishing past for today and tomorrow. We need memories and photographs from every part of Kentucky and beyond.

When submitting your "I Remember" stories, please include any photographs or illustrations, if you have them. Though not a requirement, photos do add a lot of appeal to your story.

Here is an actual "I Remember" story found in our April 2002 issue:

Never Being Bored

As a grandma of five little boys, it never ceases to amaze me when they go around saying that they are bored.

As a child growing up in Eastern Kentucky, I don't ever remember having the time to be bored. It is for sure I never said that I was bored around Daddy. He would hand me a water bucket, coal bucket, or a broom; and you didn't have to be told what to do with it. As children, we could always find things to do or get into.

When we lived at the head of Johnson Fork in Letcher County there was an old coal chute behind our house. My siblings and I had hours of fun sliding down that tin chute. We spent our time between the coal chute and the slick racks by Grandma Rachel Caudill's house. We kept our mother busy sewing patches on the seat of our britches. The slick racks had moss growing on them, and that made us go a lot faster.

Betty Kelly of Franklin, Ohio, shares this photo of herself (at left) and her sisters, Corine and Levenna (center and right). Photo taken recently on a mountain in Whitesburg, Letcher County, Kentucky.
I remember one time putting Daddy's coon dogs down the coal chute. We wanted to see what they would do. Daddy couldn't get the dogs to come out of their doghouses for a week. He got so mad, because he wanted to go hunting, but those dogs wouldn't budge. We didn't dare tell him what we had done.

Daddy would take us to catch crawdads in the creek at night. I can still remember how snakes would be drawn by the lantern light, but I don't remember being afraid. I just remember how much fun we would have splashing and shoving each other in the creek on a hot summer night. The water was always ice cold.

I remember my older siblings telling about Daddy sending Levenna and Linda out to catch night crawlers to fish with, and when he went to check on them, they had a rock turned over and was playing with a den of baby copperhead snakes. I guess it scared ten years off of Daddy's life.

Patty and Wilma Lee would catch turtles and stick match stems to their tails to get them to stick their heads out. That game stopped when one of the turtles stuck his head out right in front of Patty's face.

Then there was the time Mom and Dad went to town to trade, as they called it back then. My siblings and I got hungry, so Lilly Mae went out and killed a groundhog and cooked it; hide, hair, and all. Well, when Daddy came home, pot, groundhog, and all went flying over the hill.

One time Lilly Mae found a baby rabbit beside the road. It was half frozen. She picked it up and put it in her blouse. Well, you can imagine what a scene when the rabbit thawed out and came to life.

Our brother, Douglas, brought a baby pig home one time. It was the runt of the litter and half dead. He rubbed Vick's Salve up its nose and wrapped it in a blanket, putting it near the fireplace. Before long the pig was fine. We had a lot of fun with that pig. It would play hide-and-seek with us kids. It would always chase us up the apple tree. We would sit on the back porch, and it would come up and, we'd feed it out of a spoon.

Betty Kelly of Franklin, Ohio, shares this photo of herself (right) and her sister, Linda (at left). Photo taken recently on a mountain in Whitesburg, Letcher County, Kentucky.

We also had a big, red rooster. Every time it would catch Mom out of the yard, it would spur her. It never bothered anyone but Mom. Mom fixed him. She put him in a pot of chicken and dumplings.

My brother, Franklin, decided to make a merry-go-round one time. He put a lawnmower motor on it. We had a blast on it, until a plank came off and hit our cousin, Ancy Caudill, upside the head. Dad took an ax and made stove wood out of it.

Franklin and I would play in the woods and find grapevines and make swings out of them. My sister, Levenna, had a bad fall from one of them. Franklin also built treehouses, and being the tomboy, I was always the first to shimmy up the tree and try it out. I broke two ribs one time doing that.

We would take big coal truck tires and put each other in them and roll down the hill. I don't know what prevented us from breaking our necks.

Another thing that we kids and our cousins would do is walk the rafters in the barns. We would always see who could go the highest. I remember one time when I was the highest and doing fine, until I hit my head on a hornet's nest. I don't know how I got out of that barn, but I did.

Kids today don't use their imaginations enough. Computers are wonderful, but they are making our kids' minds lazy. This is why they get bored so easy. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

Betty L. Kelly
126 Warren Avenue
Franklin, OH 45005

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