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 February 2003 issue:
Ballardsville Grade School
Class Photo Confirmed
The picture on page 20 of the October Explorer was indeed taken in the schoolyard of the Ballardsville Grade School. It was a four-room school, with two grades taught in each room. Hot meals were served in the lunchroom upstairs. I attended school there from about the third through the seventh grade. The white house that is seen in the background was the residence for the school principal who, when I attended there in the late '40s and early '50s, was Russell Brown. On summer evenings a sheet was hung on the side of the school and movies were shown. Attendance was free, but passing the hat encouraged donations. The usual fare was movies such as Frankenstein or Frankenstein Meets The Werewolf. This was pretty scary stuff, especially as we were headed home down a lonely and unlit country road.
Shown in the picture is my uncle, Hubert Crum. His parents owned Ted's Place, which was on the corner across from the school. It was a garage, gas station, and grocery store where his mother, known to all as Mrs. T., dispensed many free pieces of candy and ice cream cones to the kids. My uncle still lives nearby on his farm, while his daughter, Kelly, and son-in-law, J. R., live just down the road from the old school building.
Dallas, TX 75206
Words To Songs Wanted
If any of your readers know where I can get the words to these songs, I would appreciate it. They are Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus, Mother Left Me Her Bible, and I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map.
P. O. Box 1146
Summerfield, FL 34492
Word Of Thanks
This is a word of thanks to the nice helpful people at The Kentucky Explorer.
My October issue of The Explorer was lost. I received the cover, but the magazine was missing.
I called the post office and also spoke to the mail carrier. No one had seen my magazine! It was a sad day at our house. We love The Explorer and look forward to receiving it each month.
I called The Explorer office and asked how I could get the October 2002 issue and told the nice person who answered the phone I would gladly pay for it. She told me no problem, they would send me one at no charge. The issue arrived a few days later and everyone's happy again at our house.
Hazel C. Norris
909 E Minnezona Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85014-3825
Regarding the identification of a photo on page 11 in the October 2002 issue, pictured in the front row, l-r: Manuel Cornett; and next to him is Charles Cornett, his brother, the Sheriff of Perry County. Charles was my brother-in-law.
545 Thurman Drive
Lexington, KY 40505
Lee County Native
Thank you so much for printing The Kentucky Explorer. My dad grew up in Lee County and now lives with me. He brings in the mail every day and keeps The Explorer to read first. We truly enjoy reading the magazine.
54995 Eleven Mile Road
New Hudson, MI 48165
Eight Counties Represented
In Educational Improvement League in 1912
I feel sure many of your readers can provide source material that better explains and describes the early educational system of Kentucky, especially in the Big Sandy Valley. The state's approach to providing a public education to the children of its citizens has changed many times over the past 200 years. Governance was once by state appointed commissioners and later changed to elected local school boards and hired superintendent of schools. Other efforts to improve the quality of education were "in-service days" to improve teaching skills.
In the book Kentucky's Last Frontier by Henry P. Scalf published in 1966, Mr. Scalf writes that Education Commissioner William J. Martin "held a Teachers Institute at the mouth of Beaver (Floyd County) in October 1874 attended by the entire teaching faculty of the county and a great number of patrons as well."
Evidence of one such effort is shown by the copy of the "Programme" of the Big Sandy Educational Improvement League scheduled to take place October 18 and 19, 1912, in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. There were eight counties represented in the League, all within the watershed of the Big Sandy River and its tributaries, except Magoffin County and a part of Knott County. The program included many well-known and distinguished educators from the area, including Professor A. C. Harlowe and Walter M. Byington. Mr. F. A. Hopkins of Prestonsburg, a well-known attorney and the first superintendent of the Floyd County school system, provided the opening welcome address. Apparently, over the years these teacher's institutes were continuing to meet as a league 38 years later and had grown to include educators from a large geographic area of Eastern Kentucky.
A sponsor of the League's program was The First National Bank of Prestonsburg which started business in Floyd County in 1904, and continues in business today as The First Commonwealth Bank of Prestonsburg. I mention this for two reasons: My great uncle, Beriah Magoffin Spurlock, was one of the original founders of the bank, and a Spurlock has been involved as an owner and manager ever since; and to point out that business was involved in education 90 years ago and the need for business to be involved in the public system of education today is even greater.
I want to join with many of your contributors and readers in acknowledging the good service provided by your publication. This forum helps all of us better understand and communicate the unique history of Kentucky.
Burl Wells Spurlock
311 N. Arnold Avenue
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
About Our Great State
I look forward to receiving The Explorer each month. There are so many places in Kentucky that I didn't even know about. It is also so interesting to read and know about our great state. You do a wonderful job covering most all of it. Keep up the good work.
5659 E. HWY 80
Russell Springs, KY 42642