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Explorer, no doubt, has a special memory. Why not write it down
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our vanishing past for today and tomorrow. We need memories and
photographs from every part of Kentucky and beyond. Thanks!
Just Like Gary Cooper
After the war was over, and I was waiting
my turn to be able to get a ship home, I had a lot of different
experiences. I would like to point out how big a 20-year-old
boy felt, when he was the highest authority for several days
at a German prisoner of war camp. To my knowledge there was no
higher for many miles. There was 10,000 or more prisoners there.
My quarters were at the main gate. A German First Sergeant was
detailed to keep my fire going for me. The German generals, and
other high officers, would salute me when they were marching
their men around on work detail. They enforced the rules on their
own ranks. Everything went like clockwork all the time, as the
Germans were well-trained to obey orders from their officers.
I always remembered the German First Sergeant whining to me about
how he would go home a beaten person, and I would go home a hero.
I would feel ten feet tall. A few times a day, I would circle
the barbed wire enclosure. My .45 automatic pistol was strapped
to my hip, and the leather strings from the bottom of the holster
were tied around my leg. This was done so I could be able to
make a quick draw, like Gary Cooper would have done.
Grover C. Thurman
261 N. Galloway Street
Xenia, OH 45385
The Girl In The Window
A pleasurable pastime of the majority of children has always
involved listening to cherished tales and fantasies of imaginary
places, inanimate objects that talk, and happy endings. Naturally,
one found these stories entertaining as a child. However, often
it was those stories based on facts, real characters, and morals
to be learned that captivated and held our interest beyond those
adolescent years. The numerous tales, lovingly recited to us
by our grandparents, exemplify this statement.
One example took place in Russellville, Kentucky, in the mid-1920s.
As the story goes, a young teenage girl had been invited to attend
a dance. Her parents reluctantly agreed to her request. She could
attend the event if it were not held during stormy weather. Surprised,
but pleased with their permission, she anxiously awaited the
As luck would have it, that night, the sky was ominous. Threatening
clouds hung overhead. Nonetheless, the girl prepared herself
for the evening, hoping deep down inside that her parents were
naive enough not to notice the storm brewing. The girl had just
descended the stairs when her nervous eyes met the disapproving
gaze of her parents. Despite her begging and pleading, she was
not permitted to attend the dance.
Outraged and terribly disappointed, she climbed the stairs back
to her bedroom, slammed the door shut, and thrust herself against
the window. There she flung aside the dainty lace curtains, and
holding back tears, she began to stare at the dark sky. Then
she heard the rumble of thunder above her. She cursed God, and
she blamed Him for the disastrous weather, and most importantly,
for her canceled plans. At that moment, a crackle of lighting
was heard overhead. Still, she cursed God. His warnings ignored;
a bolt of lighting struck the girl.
To this very day, it is believed if a person were to drive by
this seemingly quaint house, he would discover the upstairs window
painted over. Also, it is rumored that if one were to look inside
on a stormy night, where the painted window is, he would see
the silhouette of a girl in that very spot, where she stood almost
a century ago, cursing God.
Nancy S. McCauley
1311 Old Gratton Road
Clarksville, TN 37043
Remembering The Allens
Here is a woman and man who gave a lot to our country. Birdie
Allen was a superwoman. She was a housewife in Walkertown, Kentucky,
on the end of Hazard, Kentucky. Her husband, Jim Allen, was a
field worker for a coal company. His office was over the Greyhound
Bus station on Main Street in Hazard. He was also a preacher.
Jim and Birdie have a son, Samuel (Bucky); and a granddaughter,
Brenda Allen Combs, who still live in Kentucky. They had another
granddaughter named Charlene. These little girls were left without
their fathers, who were killed in WWII; both being the two oldest
sons, Charlie and Jim Allen, Jr.
Their other son, J. B., went to service and is lucky to be alive.
He had parents that prayed for him. When he got home from his
hospital stay, he married Jenny Peddicord. Jenny was my schoolteacher
at Blue Diamond, Kentucky. J. B. was the pastor of the First
Creek Baptist Church. They left there and moved to Cookville,
Jim and Birdie had three sons, who were killed in service: Charlie
and Jim, Jr., WWII; and Bucky, the youngest, was killed in Vietnam.
He died like his brother did, trying to save a friend. They are
buried at Riverside Cemetery. Jim and Birdie took the two little
girls and raised them. The last Allen son, J. B. Allen, of Tennessee,
died April 1999. He wrote two books that were all about his mother,
and his calling to the ministry. J. B.'s only son, J. C., preaches
at his church, Praise Restoration Center, in Sparta, Tennessee.
Jim and Birdie's son, Ed, lost his leg, and the other son, Ellis,
became a minister. Jim and Birdie Allen were great people. They
had a lot of courage to go on through their lives.
P. O. Box 4094 Sta. F
Cincinnati, OH 45204
Working At Blue Diamond
Sixty-six years ago, I left my home near Lexington, Kentucky
by train to work in the office at the commissary of Blue Diamond
Coal Company. After six hours I arrived at Hazard, Kentucky.
I was met by a taxi driven by a Mr. Barker. He put my trunk on
the running board of his car and started over Crawford Hill to
Blue Diamond. This was in March, and the mud road was slick,
but he did not have to put the tire chains on.
After arriving at Blue Diamond, I was met by Henry Daniels (he
lives at Loyall, Kentucky now). He took me over to the clubhouse,
where he introduced me to Dr. W. H. Hobbs, who was the company
doctor; several schoolteachers, of which I found out were from
around Lexington: Peggy Marrs, Essie Salmon, Mildred and Evangline
Gritton, and Cecil Washburn; and others of the store and office
I went over to the building called the "Y" for a tour.
There I found a barbershop, beauty shop, theatre, pool room,
fountain and lunch bar, and a game room. Having been reading
the papers, I never dreamed of such a nice place, and it being
in the heart of the Depression, jobs were not very plentiful.
I would have gone anywhere for employment. I want to say at this
point, the mountain people have been given a bad name, but I
have never been around and worked where the people were any nicer.
After a good night's rest, I went over to the commissary. There
I met my boss, Mr. L. J. Hammel, and the rest of the store workers.
Irene Crutchfield was in charge of the ladies department; Dewey
Collins, the men's department and hardware; Norman Ritchie and
Chester Hensley, the grocery department; George Buckner, the
drug department; Chester Jennings, the meat department; and Henry
Daniels, the stockroom. From there, I went into the company mine
office and met J. O. Archer, office manager; Tom Crutchfield;
Shorty Johns; and Mr. Cobb, mine superintendent.
The commissary was a three-story building, with elevator and
stairs. In the basement were surplus grocery stock and an ice
plant, where ice was made and delivered all over the camp by
two horse wagons. The ground floor was the main retail section.
The third story contained furniture and appliances, with one
end being the casket room. Between the retail section and the
third floor was the office, where the manager could look at all
the different departments. At this time, most all of the supplies
came in by train, as there were very few cars and trucks to travel
the creek beds for a road. A trestle was built over the creek,
from the railroad to the store, and a tram car was used to bring
the supplies to the store. It was pulled by Dad Panky. It didn't
have a motor.
Now for the camp, the bathhouse was at the end of the "Y,"
going to the tipple and mine entrance. Many houses were on the
hills, and all were situated so deliveries could be made by wagons.
All the houses had running water and electricity. The doctor's
office and dentist office, along with the post office, were in
a building near the store. In what we called "the lot,"
as it was fenced in, was the tennis court and croquet court,
near the clubhouse. The school was on the road going to the Harveyton
Coal Company, near Sapphire store, which later became a school.
Church services were held in the school building.
I worked for Blue Diamond from 1933 to 1954, with years in service,
and I worked in all of the company stores in Kentucky, Tennessee,
and Virginia. My last employment was as store manager at Eagan,
Tennessee, and I went to Kingsport, Tennessee, to work for a
supermarket for 20 years. I retired in 1977. Since my retirement,
I have put together several albums containing photos and newspaper
clippings from the first days at Blue Diamond.
I well remember the trips to Hazard on the weekends, with road
conditions over Crawford Hill so bad we would have to leave the
car and walk the rest of the way. At Hazard, I remember going
to Rhineland Garden for dances, with Ritchie's Orchestra. They
also had dances at the Masonic Hall. People would always meet
at Don Fouts' drugstore for refreshments.
P. O. Box 233
Woodbine, KY 40771
This story was told to me many years ago by my mother, Sylvia
Whiteman Patrick. This really happened.
One time when Mother was a little girl, her parents moved their
family into an old house, which was located somewhere in Bath
County, Kentucky. No one else would live in that house, because
according to the former tenants, the house was haunted. My grandparents
were desperate for a house to rent, so they overlooked the ghost
stories and moved their family into the spooky old house.
Mother slept downstairs on the living room couch. One rainy night
she couldn't go to sleep, so she decided to get up and look out
the window and watch the rain come down. She pressed her hands
and face against the window pane and looked out at the rain.
Flashes of lightening illuminated the sky, and what she saw next
would have frightened a lot of adults out of their wits, especially
the ones who had heard and believed the ghost stories.
Mother saw a little old woman walking around the yard, carrying
a big knife in one hand, and a basket in the other one. The old
woman would dig up something out of the ground and put it into
the basket. Most children would have run and jumped into bed
with their parents, but not Mother. She was curious, so she stayed
to see what was going on. She watched the old woman for a few
minutes, and then all of a sudden, the old woman turned and looked
toward the window. She walked right up to the window, pressed
her face and the palms of her hands right against it, and looked
right into Mother's face. They stood there staring at each other
for a few seconds, and then the old woman turned around and walked
After Mother told me this bizarre story, I asked her, "Were
you scared?" She answered, "No, I just wondered what
she was doing out there." I have been wondering the same
thing for more than half a century. Who was that little old woman,
and why was she digging up my grandparent's yard in the middle
of the night, during a rainstorm? Maybe she was just out looking
for night crawlers. Who knows?
Anyway, whoever she was, she was probably the reason that the
landlord couldn't keep tenants very long. They didn't know who
she was, what she was doing, why she was doing it, and they certainly
didn't intend to stay around there long enough to find out.
611 Stanley Street
Middletown, OH 45044
Training For Elvis
In March 1958, as an Army Major, I was stationed at HQ Fourth
Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On March 28, 1958, Elvis Presley
was inducted into the Army and ordered to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas
for his basic training. Camp Chaffee was one of our subordinate
installations. It just so happened that I was the staff duty
officer for HQ Fourth Army on March 28, 1958.
The staff duty officer remains on duty in the headquarters from
5:00 p. m., quitting time, until 08:00 a. m. the following morning,
when the Commanding General and other staff officers report for
work. During the evening and night, the staff duty officer receives
all incoming messages and phone calls for the HQ, and takes whatever
actions are necessary. All routine actions he takes on his own
initiative. If it is of sufficient importance and requires command
attention he calls the commanding general at home to obtain instructions
as to what should be done.
At 5:00 p. m., on the 28th, Lt. Gen. Guy Meloy, the Army Commander,
left the office and said to me, "Jim, you are in charge.
Call if you need me." About two hours later, I received
a phone call from the Commanding General at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.
He informed me that Private Elvis Presley had reported to Camp
Chaffee that day for his basic training. He said Presley was
accompanied by an entourage, which included his manager, Col.
Tom Parker; bodyguards; girlfriends; and other hangers on. He
told me that Private Presley was going to be treated just like
any other soldier. He said, "Tomorrow he is going to get
a GI haircut, he will be issued the standard GI clothing, and
he will receive the same training as all other recruits."
He further said, "I am going to kick Tom Parker's butt off
the base, and all the rest of the entourage, and tell them not
to come back. There will be no photo sessions, no press conferences,
no interviews with the press, and no special time off."
He said, "If the Army Commander has any objections to the
way I propose to handle Presley's training, tell him to give
me a call."
I thought this was a rather routine action, and one which I could
handle on my own initiative, without having to bother the Army
Commander at home. So I told the Commander of Camp Chaffee, that
speaking for the Army Commander, I approved the plan he had outlined
to me for Private Presley's training. No special privilege, GI
haircut, fatigue uniforms, no photo sessions, and no press releases.
I said, "You will treat him the same as you treat all the
other soldiers in his unit." He thanked me, and he hung
up the phone.
The following morning, when I briefed the Army Commander on what
had happened during the night, I told him about the phone call
I had received from the Commander of Camp Chaffee, regarding
the basic training of Elvis Presley. I also told him I had approved
the plan for his training. He chuckled when I told him about
the comment to kick Tom Parker's butt off the base. He said,
"You did well, and I agree with everything you said."
Elvis Presley received his basic training with little or no publicity
and was treated just like the rest of the soldiers in his unit.
He did not ask for special privilege, and he received none. He
was an excellent soldier.
I was born and raised in Letcher County, Kentucky.
James W. Witt
426 Lilly Road NE, Apt. 11
Olympia, WA 98506
Life As A Social Worker
Back in the 1950s, I was employed as a social worker for the
Kentucky Department of Economic Security Bureau of Public Assistance
(renamed Department for Human Resources Bureau for Social Insurance).
Home visits were required for each applicant for assistance.
If eligibility was established, annual visits to the aged, blind,
and disabled; and semiannual visits to the home of eligible children
were made. All workers confronted unexpected things in making
these calls, but one particular day it seemed I met more than
the daily allowance.
I went to the Berry Ferry community, in Livingston County, and
off a side road, across a cattle crossing, I entered a field
where a number of donkeys were grazing. Most of them moved slowly
off the drive, but I stopped to make sure they were all clear
of the car. When I stopped I could hear a click, click, click,
and I thought the fan belt or something must be loose. I got
out to lift the hood, and when I got to the front of the car
there was this tiny, tiny little donkey, with his ears laid back
and kicking the bumper; which was as high as he could reach,
just as fast as his little legs could recoil. I got his ear and
pulled him from the drive, with all four feet planted solidly
in resistance. He probably grew up to be a very stubborn donkey.
I drove on through the field, past a house, and was easing into
an old roadway; which was a deep, narrow cut with banks about
as high as the car. I had the window down and was not noticing
the banks. As I got even with this peacock, which was almost
within my reach, he suddenly spread his plumage and loudly screamed,
"Help, Help, Help." It was me who needed help. I was
on the other side of the car when I realized what it was, and
that I had left the controls.
As I approached the next house, I had to go through a gate and
another field, where there were several horses. For fear of letting
one out in getting the car through, I decided to leave the car
and walk to the house. Having always lived on a farm, and not
fearing animals, I entered the field and started walking. This
gentle three-year-old filly was following me, and suddenly she
started rearing up to play with me. I was afraid she might strike
me with her hoofs. I knew I needed a halter to lead her, but
that was something the trainers had not told us to carry when
they told us about chains and shovels. I happened to be wearing
a dress with a long sash tied at the waist, so I set down my
briefcase, removed the sash, looped it around her neck and nose,
and led her quietly to the house with no problem.
At the house, I got the opportunity to really meet the peafowls.
I had never been close to one, that is, until a few minutes earlier.
A dozen or so were lying around the yard in the sun, and my client
asked her daughter to play the piano so I could see the birds
dance. I was amazed. When they heard the music, they slowly stood
up, shook off the dust, and started to sway back and forth with
the grace of a hula dancer. The filly was waiting for me when
I left the house, and again, we had to have the halter to the
gate. I returned to the highway, without encountering the donkeys,
and drove out another side road, where I had clients.
First, I stopped to interview a son of a client. I entered a
little gate in a low plank fence; climbed to the porch, where
a large shepherd dog was lying, apparently not noticing me at
all; and when no one was home, I started back to the car. I was
about to open the little gate when I heard the dog growling,
and he jumped off the porch. I placed my hands on top of the
fence and went over it with all the agility of any ten-year-old
boy. He got to the car door and managed to scratch it, just half
a second too late to get me. I am sure I was a bit more shaken
than he was, however.
I moved on to the next house, where I found my client was not
at home. As I returned slowly to the car, looking at the flowers
in her yard, I heard this rushing noise. I looked around, and
there was a turkey gobbler, with his head down and his wings
and feathers spread out, coming at me fast. I was near enough
to leap into the car, and this time my door really got scratched,
as he flogged it.
The last visit was made at the next house, and I had told this
lady about my experiences at her neighbors' houses. We had laughed
about it, and she suggested that maybe I should just call it
a day and go home. I was standing beside the car, and she was
on the porch when she yelled, "Watch that goat." It
was barely in time for me to side step this charging billy goat,
with two children right behind him, trying to catch him. I got
into the car, and I told her I was taking her advice. I was going
home. It was only two o'clock, but it had been a long, hard day,
and both the car and I showed it.
My husband and I were living with my parents, and when I went
in, of course, my mother thought I was sick. I told her of my
day, while I ate lunch. I decided I would make up the time at
a later date, and I took the rest of the day off. These little
attacks happen often, but never in my 40 years of social work
did I have another day like that. Thank goodness I was not a
city girl trying to work in this area.
420 Alley Lane
Salem, KY 42078
J. D. Anderson
J. D. (James Daniel) Anderson was a postmaster
of Vi, Kentucky, and he owned a grocery store. He was the son
of Bill (William) Anderson and Emma Williamson Anderson. J. D.
was born January 25, 1878, in Pike County. He died April 4, 1964.
J. D. married Rachel Justice, the daughter
of William Thompson Justice. William Thompson was born February
25, 1850, in Pike County. He died April 27, 1928. William Thompson
married Cosby Haven. She was born September 11, 1845. She died
December 29, 1894. They were the parents of four sons and four
daughters. Rachel and J. D. were the parents of four sons and
three daughters, all born in the same area.
J. D. was a Gospel preacher of the Church
of Christ. He performed my wedding ceremony to Ernestine Thacker
on April 14, 1948. He was a docent man and was mighty in the
scriptures. He preached all through Pike County and all the surrounding
counties. He baptised 23 people at one service. People were eager
to hear and obey the truth.
Harper Keene, an officer of our area, was
present at one of our baptizings. When he heard the truth, he
reached his gun to a friend, Tom Norman, and was baptised. Then
Tom Norman gave the gun to someone else and was baptised, also.
J. D. baptised hundreds of people. J. D. was a very caring person.
He was a blessing to his community.
4829 Sherwood Drive
Ashland, KY 41101
The Day I Hit Mama
I was born February 22, 1920, in the beautiful little river town
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half the "I Remember" stories found in the April 2000
issue. For remaining letters, stories, photos, and other features,
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