Letters To The Editor

Each month, The Kentucky Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for "Letters to the Editor."

Here are actual letters from our June 2002 issue:

Tribute To The Pokeberry Plant

Dear Editor:

After planting some spring flowers and spreading freshly-cut mulch in front of my townhouse apartment in Fairborn, Ohio, I discovered a strange (or not so strange) foilage appearing in the flower bed near the fence row. Of course, being the nosey gardener that I am, I let it grow.

Soon old-time memories formed in my mind of childhood days at Bluegrass Hollow and First Creek, also known as Old Kentucky Black Hollow, in Perry County.

Not long into the growth of my odd-looking plants, some green berries began to bring other memories into focus. The berries later turned purple, and my childhood memories went as wild as the wild pokeberry.

When the pokeberry plant is very young, it can be used as a side-dish on the dinner table; but after the berries come forth, the old-timers say the plant and its berries are poisonous. However, that didn't mean the plant was forgotten.

All the "little mommies" playing house knew the whole berries were still useful as ingredients for mud pies and, in a crushed form, for making purple Kool-Aid. But we children weren't brave enough to eat the mud pies or drink the purple Kool-Aid we made.

Little "Indian braves" and "scouts" used its juice as war paint, and every child of the 1930s and 1940s used pokeberry juice as ink for writing love letters.

As I drank iced tea, ate cookies, and watched the pokeberry plants live and die in my yard over the summer months, I remembered that Mom (Dora Combs Hurt) used to put on her apron, fetch a big butcher knife and paper bag, then canvas the neighborhood to see who was ready to go poke salad pickin'.

The supper table was always set when Dad (John Hurt) got home from a hard day's work in the coal mines, and we all sat down to a delicious supper of soup beans, fried potatoes, cornbread and onions, poke salad, and buttermilk. It was a meal fit for a king. Mom gave thanks to God for the food and all our blessings, then we ate all we wanted.

My family has since passed on; except one brother, Brown Hurt, and one sister, Mae Hurt Gussett. Thanks to the pokeberry plant, my memories live on.

Alma Hurt Daniels
342 Buckeye Avenue
Fairborn, OH 45324

Long-Lost Huff Kinfolk

Dear Editor:

I was born on Wilder Branch in Leslie County, Kentucky, the daughter of Elmer and Sally Bailey Huff. I moved to Illinois with my husband, Henry Sizemore, and our four children in 1956.

I've always wanted to go back to my roots, but Henry doesn't feel the same way I do. I guess Kentucky will always be home to me.

I would love to find some of my long-lost kinfolk. So far, I have located one, and we write to each other all the time.

Thanks for a wonderful magazine.

Caroline Sizemore
308 N. Walnut
Clinton, IL 61727

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