(By Our Many Readers)
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J. Monroe Gevedon
J. Monroe Gevedon and Dell Davis were married at her home at Ezel, Kentucky, July 12, 1908. She was the daughter of M. P. M. and Catherine Davis.
My father, J. Monroe, was the most versatile man I have ever known. He was gifted at anything he set out to do. He was an accomplished fiddle player of old time country music, a farmer, a blacksmith, and a carpenter. But what he loved most was being a wonderful teacher. Mostly self-educated, he graduated from Hazel Green Academy, which was one of the important schools in his day. He built an eight-room house, which sheltered his family and parents. It still stands to this day, lonely, but livable. When we all get together, we take a nostalgic trip throughout, and recall who slept in this room or who fell down the stairs.
Two of our brothers are deceased. Estill and Bert left us all very sad. The six of us who are left manage to get together as often as possible, as we are all scattered to the four winds. My brother, Noel, moved to Winchester, after retiring from working for Uncle Sam in Michigan, as he wanted to be between his two sisters, Helena, in Lexington; and Rella, in Frenchburg. Kathlyn and her husband, Luther Carroll, live near Cincinnati; and Jean and I live in Hutchinson, Kansas.
My father was the only son of Raney Chastain Gevedon, who was born April 7, 1843, and died January 3, 1920. His mother was Jeston Virginia Testerman Gevedon. She was born December 23, 1851 and died March 20, 1959 at the age of 107 years old. She was the daughter of Gaither and Sarah Russell Testerman. Their family emigrated to Kentucky from Virginia in covered wagons, across the Cumberland Mountains, when my grandmother was just a girl. We would always sit quietly, while she told that story over and over. We were always fascinated with the part where an intruder crept out of the woods and tried to take the gun away from her, and she fought him off and kept the precious hunting item.
The home at Grassy Creek, Kentucky is hallowed ground, even though most of the generations we grew up with have moved or gone to meet their maker. We still feel the pain of other days and wish them back. However, youth is gone, and we are the older generation.
Nina Gevedon Miller
17 E. 2nd Street, Apt 5-A
Hutchinson, KS 67501
Remembering "White Mule"
During the 1933 era, and in northeastern Graves County, Kentucky, "Ras" Wade was one of the younger Wade boys. "Ras" never married. He was a WWI veteran. He drew a small pension from this engagement. He lived with his mother, "Miss Josie," and never worked at a regular job. He was a pistol shot of great renown and had WWI medals to verify this fact. He trapped for animal pelts in the winter, and he often operated a "still" in the summer. He drank prodigious amounts of "white mule" from time to time, with usual results. "White mule" was fresh corn whiskey, colorless, and so hot to swallow it was called "white lightening." White mule intoxication was associated with very violent behavior. It left a trail of violence, murder, and mayhem behind those that drank excessively in the Jackson Purchase area of Western Kentucky. It led to a lot of jailing of its heavy inhibitors. It hit quickly and violently to those that used it. "White mule" drinkers usually were satisfied to take one occasional drink, but those that managed to get at least four big drinks down, these then got past the fiery burning of swallowing.
This fire water destroyed the Native American culture far more than any other one thing. Fire water has destroyed almost any culture in which it has wide use. Its use by rural Kentuckians, either by making; selling; or drinking, has provided a large part of Kentucky history and feuds; lawlessness; and resisting encroach-ment of education; religion; and progressive means of livelihood. However, it has provided a very interesting state culture, and to a much lesser degree, it does so even today. It has been largely replaced by marijuana raising and using, which does not result in the violent level of "White mule" days.
Ras Wade was a legend in making good whiskey, trapping good furs, and in pistol marksmanship.
In the "Symsonia Said Road" area there was a stretch of road east of Symsonia recognized as the moonshine area. Families living there were Copelands and Surretts, among others. One very active in the areas of moonshine was Reid Surrett. His wife was Prudy McGuire Surrett. Prudy was a religious fanatic. Ras Wade and Reid Surrett had gotten violent on "white mule." They had been driving continuously up and down the local roads in a Model T Ford touring car by Clay Wade; a 20-year-old nephew of Ras. Clay had driven them to the home of Reid Surrett. Clay was, on this warm Sunday afternoon, laying out under a shade tree. Ras and Reid were on a big front porch of Reid's large white house. They were so drunk, noisy, and disagreeable that Prudy came out the front door, stationed herself between them, and started loudly praying. Ras said, "Get her away, or I'll kill her." Reid responded, "If you do, I'll kill you." Ras then drew his pistol and killed Prudy. As she fell, Reid got off a shot at Ras. This was a fatal shot, but as he fell dying, Ras shot Reid. Clay, again as a chauffer, witnessed an uncle killed. Help was obtained, and Reid was carried 15 miles to Paducah's Riverside Hospital. Ras had proven he could shoot first and fastest, but as his victim fell, Reid's slowness allowed him to fire where Prudy had stood. He fatally wounded Ras. However, as he died, Ras did manage to shoot Reid. Until this date, November 29, 1999, I believed Reid died also. In talking this over today with Ulus Johnson, one of my high school friends, I have learned that Reid survived to get drunk and interrupted the "Saidhood" area for many years.
Here, in "white mule" violence, ended the second of the Wade brothers. Clay had been chauffer and witness to two uncles ending in fatal shootings. Clay was nice and pleasant. He was never intimidating or threatening. He had been born with teeth that were so smooth and free of ridges that no stains ever remained on his teeth. No one, other than a scant few of us, ever used toothbrushes. Clay claimed he did not, but his teeth were always like pearls. He was a little overweight, but was a good hand when hired out to the neighboring farmers. He married a neighbor's daughter, and they were no problem to the neighborhood. However, both Clay and his wife later had brothers. While drunk together, they attacked an old man of the community, who had bummed a ride with them in their old truck. They beat his head in with a tool. For this they went to Eddyville, but that is another story.
Edgar B. Morgan
4614 Hanford Lane
Louisville, KY 40207
It's A Small World
On August 2, 1922, I was born in a little coal mining town called Typo, Kentucky. It was just a stone's throw from Hazard. My grandfather, Dr. Green Monroe Cook, was a doctor there, and he and another doctor founded the very first hospital in Hazard and all of Perry County. My dad, Bernie Walters, worked in the coal fields until the early 1930s. Then came the Depression, and Dad, along with many others, was unemployed. But he had previously bought 100 acres of fertile land from his father, Preacher Joe Walters, in a beautiful valley called Frozen Creek in Breathitt County. It was in this valley that I grew up and attended Breathitt County High from 1938 through 1940. After finishing my junior year, in 1940, and experiencing the terrible flood of 1939, being devastated, my dad and I headed out hitchhiking to Middletown, Ohio. There we both found work laying new tracks and ties for the New York Central Railroad. It was very hard work, especially during the hot months of July and August.
While working on the railroad, I managed to take a welding course, sponsored by Aeronica Aircraft Company. When the course was completed the company put me to work immediately. But shortly thereafter, Uncle Sam invited me to help him fight a terrible war. So October 1942 found me being inducted into the Navy in Hamilton, Ohio. After finishing my training in Great Lakes, Illinois, I was on my way to California and thousands of miles beyond to a land called Australia. Tied to the docks in Sydney was a sleek, ambitious, and fearless destroyer called USS Mugford. Shortly before she had taken a direct hit and lost several of her crew just off Guadalcanal, we were assigned to her as replacements for those killed.
By now the Mugford was out for blood. Those squinch-eyed rascals would pay dearly for their unkind deeds. Operating out of Townsville, Australia we made one invasion after another up the east coast of New Guinea. We saw many dead bodies floating in the water. Some of them being our own men. The Mugford delighted in patrolling real close to the beach and blasting everything in sight, whether humans or material things.
On December 3rd, another destroyer called the USS Cooper made a night invasion at Ormoc on the west side of Leyte, in the Philippines. The Japanese ships were unloading supplies there at Ormoc. The USS Cooper, at full alert and total darkness, steamed full speed ahead and let go her spread of torpedoes. While executing a u-turn at full speed, the Japanese managed to make a torpedo hit and the Cooper was now history. She continued to roll over and sink within minutes, with most of her crew inside. Only a handful of the Coopers crew survived. Two days later the fearless Mugford was on patrol duty back and forth across the Surrigario Straights, where the world's greatest naval battle was fought between Leyte and Dinigat Islands. This was our worst day, because at one o'clock that afternoon, a Japanese Kamikaze plane came from over the land, just above the water and crashed into the port side amid ship. For a while the Mugford lost all power and control. With screams of the dying, and flames leaping hundreds of feet into the air, as a radar operator, I leaped out of the C. I. C. room and looked down to the deck below. There I saw one of my buddies burning to death and screaming. Some of the other guys had jumped overboard and were swimming in the ocean. Several of the crew had rushed up to the bow of the ship to avoid the flames and heat. Suddenly, the men on the bow of the ship started pointing to the heavens above. I didn't know whether to jump or stay on board. The crippled ship was now sitting still and black smoke was billowing high into the air. Then I looked up in the direction that they were pointing. Low and behold there was another Kamikaze plane in the air coming to finish us off. We were sitting ducks and couldn't fire a shot. But glory be to God for his faithfulness, out of the blue skies came a screaming P-38 fighter that seemed to be waiting in ambush. As the Japanese plane passed in front of him the P-38 blasted him into eternity, and by the grace of God, the Mugford was spared after all.
Our damage was great, and in a few days we were homeward bound for repairs and rest. After a few days out to sea, I struck up a conversation with one of the survivors from the USS Cooper. Those who survived the sinking of the Cooper had been placed aboard the Mugford for transportation back home. I asked the young sailor, "Where are you from?" He bashfully said, "Kentucky." I asked him his name, and he said, "Junior Woods." I asked him what part of Kentucky did he come from. He said, "You probably never heard of it, but it is a small town in Leslie County called Hyden." I said, "Junior, I got news for you. My mother was born and raised in Hyden, Kentucky. Her father was a doctor there. Tell me, Junior, do you know a Boyd and Lillie Mosley that lived just outside of Hyden?" His eyes got big, and he almost lost his breath. He said, "Lillie Mosley was my Sunday School teacher all the time I was growing up on Rockhouse Creek." I said, "Junior, she is my aunt, and I love her very much." Not long ago she had sent me a fruit cake, and I still had it in my locker. I went down and got the fruit cake, and Junior Woods, my aunt Lillie's Sunday School student, helped me eat it. This all took place way out in the middle of the blue Pacific. Also, Junior's great-uncle was married to my aunt, Litha Woods, of Oneida, Kentucky. It is a small world.
7826 Harper Avenue
Downey, CA 90241
Remembering Isaac Mayes
I am the youngest of five children born to Isaac and Fannie McIntosh Mayes. My daddy, Ike, was born July 2, 1893. He died June 10, 1964. My mother, Fannie, was born April 3, 1892. She died December 26, 1966. They were two fine, loving parents and good Christians. They joined the Old Regular Baptist Church around the year of 1935 or 1936. I was a little girl then. We lived in the head of Lick Branch, across the river at Combs, Kentucky in Perry County.
I remember Daddy saying he had gone to a lot of churches, and he felt at home when he joined the Old Regular Baptist Church. It was not long until he was called to preach. He didn't have much education. He only went to the third grade, but he sure knew his Bible. Dad was crippled when he and Mom had two or three children. He was working in a log mill and a log rolled over his leg and broke it. There wasn't any doctors close, so whoever set it didn't get it straight. It grew back shorter than the other one. He had to walk with a walking cane, but that didn't stop my daddy. He worked wherever he could find work to raise five children. We moved around a lot. We lived in Wolfe County, Breathitt County, Owsley County, and Perry County. I was born at War Creek, Kentucky, in Breathitt County, December 29, 1928. We moved wherever he could find work. My brothers and sisters were Clarence Mayes, born February 1, 1914; Ethel Mayes McIntosh, born November 20, 1916; Rosa Lee Mayes Herald, born January 30, 1919; and Lawrence Mayes, born October 21, 1923.
All of my family have passed on to a better place, but my sister, Rosa Lee, and me. I have been blessed. I have a good husband, four wonderful children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. The Lord has been good to me. I remember my daddy singing and preaching the old time Gospel.
Chelcie Mayes Duncil
5886 Jaqui Lane
Franklin, OH 45005
Free Dancing Lessons
My father told me this story several years ago. He thought that it was very amusing, and so do I.
He told me about having a conver-sation with a certain fellow that he had met, and the fellow was from Kentucky. I don't know what his name was, so I'll call him "Jake."
Jake told Dad that in years gone by he liked to make people dance. He'd make a guy get off his horse, and he'd shoot bullets all around the guy's feet, and this would really keep the dancer dancing. Many a person danced, even if it went against his religious convictions.
Jake told Dad this story: One day he was riding along on his horse, and he saw a certain preacher coming his way. The preacher was also on a horse. Jake thought that it would really be a lot of fun to make a preacher dance, especially if the preacher didn't believe in dancing.
When the preacher was just a few feet away from him, Jake said, "Hey, get off your horse! I'm going to make you dance." The preacher got off his horse, and Jake started shooting bullets all around the preacher's feet, and of course, the preacher danced. Jake continued to shoot until he ran out of bullets. That was where he made his big mistake, because when the preacher saw that Jake was out of bullets, he pulled out his gun and said, "Now, let's see you dance! Get off that horse!"
Jake undoubtedly found out that he was a much better dancer than he ever realized he was, because according to what he told my dad, he really danced! Like King David, he danced with all his might. Of course, the circumstances were different.
Jake probably even learned a few new steps, which he had never tried before, because he had an excellent teacher who was very willing and eager to give him free dancing lessons.
611 Stanley Street
Middletown, OH 45044
Life In The Defiance Coal Camp
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, my father worked at Marlow Coal Company at Defiance (Perry County), Kentucky. He was a shooter; that is what they called the man that handled the explo-sives in the mines. They had to drill the holes in the coal seam, and then put the dynamite or black powder in the drilled holes, and then set the charge off. This would remove the coal from its permanent bed, then it would be ready to be loaded into small cars, transported to the drift mouth, and loaded onto the coal cars; which took it to the market.
He wanted to be close to his work, so he moved his family of nine children and Mom to Defiance, where we set up permanent residence. There is where I spent several years attending Defiance Grade School. This was also a learning experience of living in a coal camp.
There was an outstanding old gentleman, who lived in the camp. His name was Erie Godsey, and I remember him well. He had several children, but I don't remember how many there were; they were very well-behaved. They were a plus to the community. Erie was a very enterprising old fellow. He was the camp barber, substitute teacher, and had a small grocery store, plus a bathhouse; of which all were in this large building that he lived in. Now the coal miners could rent a locker space in the shower room. At the end of each shift they could clean up and go home.
Once regular teacher got sick, and Erie was called upon to take his place. I was in Erie's class. He had a son, Morris, about the same age as me. He was in the same class. Now everyone knows that boys will be boys, so doing mischief was always present. Erie was doing some work on the blackboard, and Morris, in the meantime, had made a large spitball and was looking for a target. Erie, with his back turned, became the unlucky one. Splat went the large spitball straight to the back of Erie's head. Erie spun around, with a weird look on his face, and his hand on the back of his head. He looked the students over and in a roaring voice said, "I would like to know who threw that spitball?" No one said a thing, and there was complete silence in the classroom for a minute or so. With a very strong voice, this is exactly what he said, "Bust my hide, whoever did that sure wasn't raised right." There was an outburst of laughter. None of us got recess that day.
Like I said, Erie was an outstanding gentleman. He had a barbershop and, at that time, haircuts were 50 cents. He got all the business at Defiance and an overflow from Happy, Acup, Scuddy, and George's Branch. Now you can see why he was a very enterprising individual.
On Saturdays, when it was time, Dad would send me and my two brothers down to the shop to get a haircut. If you were lucky enough to be first in line you were all right, but if you were eighth or tenth in line, the hair clippers would become very warm, and after several more, they would become down right hot. So, as usual, we would be running late. As I got settled in the chair, he began to cut. Now everyone knows what hot metal feels like. So when the clippers touched my head, I would jerk away. This would not deter Erie one bit. He would just grab a handful of hair on the top of my head and keep on cutting until the job was complete.
Well, life must go on. Anyone who grew up at this time can remember what it was like. You had to be well off to be able to afford a television. We were not in that category, so we had to find other entertainment. At that time comic books were very popular. They were only ten cents. That is something we could afford, so each week we would be able to purchase several new ones. Of course, we would read them several times, and when we got tired of them, we would make our rounds in the camp and do some trading. All the families were in the same boat as we were. So we kept reading material all the time.
But as we got older, our needs changed, and times changed, but the memories that I have of growing up at Defiance will always be with me.
Carl Gene Lawson, Jr.
5041 W. Lawson Drive
Scottsburg, IN 47170
Memories Of Eli Brashear
When I think back some years ago, I lived in Virginia. I was born and raised in Wise County. I came to Kentucky in my early teens. In my late teen years, I met my future husband, but at the time I first met him, I didn't know that he was going to be my husband, because it was three years later before I saw him again. In those three years I thought of him often. Even though I dated some, I worked and went about helping my parents at home. I had no way of knowing when I would see Eli Brashear again. The next time we met, it was only a few months until we were married. I do say love can happen at first sight. We were married 60 years when we were parted by death about 1 1/2 years ago. Our life together seemed such a short time.
We had a wonderful life together. Sometimes when we had hardships, we didn't readily think of it being hard. We just took everything in stride. He was used to hard work, and so was I. You see, we both grew up in large families and during the Depression. He was in the C. C. C., and being used to hard work, he was ready to learn new trades. Eli never complained about working. He was strong and loved to be accomplishing something.
Eli worked for the state highway. He also worked in the mines. He received a broken arm in the mines, so severe they had to do a bone graft. He wore his arm in a cast and sling for seven months. Eli didn't just sit around though. He was up taking our three older children to the mountains on trips, which they still talk about. He also would take them with him, and with their little wagon, would get manure for the garden. We also grew rhubarb at that time, with greens bountiful. After all those months, our finances were down with little compensation, but we managed. Eli went back to the same place to work, but they gave him a job picking slate on the tipple. He said it would build his muscles back from having his arm in a sling for so long, and it did.
About this time, our four children came down with the measles, one at a time. Eli couldn't afford to stay home often, after being off work for so long. He worked, and when one got seriously sick, our neighbors came in to help. They helped with the milking and feeding of the livestock. I wouldn't leave my children alone long enough to do it. We all came through it though. Back in those days, with bad roads and cold weather, it was more exposure to take a child out than to stay home with them. Unless it was a matter of life or death. Our children are all grown now. We have two daughters and two sons. They now have children of their own, and three have grandchildren.
My husband lived to be 86. His worked hard all of his life, and he never beat anyone out of a dime. He word was as good as a bond. He retired from the highway and V. M. W. A. mines. We traveled quite a bit in our older days and enjoyed every mile of it. We traveled to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, we took two cruises, went to Florida, and we went to the Bahamas three times. We lived together and reaped part of our hard work, a wonderful life, and enjoyed our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
During the years up to the late 1940s, we only had a country road. He had to drive over it when it was as muddy as it could get in the winter months. The children had to walk to school. I believe children were in better health, because they walked, played, and enjoyed their time together.
My husband, Eli, told me once that he thought my prayers helped save his life in some of his narrow escapes. During pretty days, when the days were longer, he would work around the place before going to work. He would help pick beans for me to can. He worked at night, and during the dry weather, it wasn't so hard to get to work; even though it was a long drive. Like I said, everything seemed to be taken in stride; one day at a time, with no complaining. Eli enjoyed life and work, it all went together.
During his miner's vacations, we would take care of our garden, canning, or anything else that needed caring for. We would then take the children on a vacation. Even though we took short trips, we still enjoyed them. On one trip, we went to Clifty Falls Park, in Indiana, across the river from Carrollton, Kentucky. Eli, during his years in the C. C. C., had helped build the park. It was beautiful to us, because Eli had a part in it. We took pictures of the children on the see-saws. We fixed our food on the grills and ate. We also visited some of the other parks that the C. C. C. help build. They were something to be proud of and enjoyed.
Eli was a man of men, and a man of courage. He was a good husband and provided for his family. He didn't care to work. Growing food was a hobby, one of pride. He just enjoyed living.
I always thought he could do about anything and do it well. Eli would work all day on his tractor and never seem to tire out. If it was torn up, he would work until it was fixed, no matter how long it took.
Where do the years go? It seems to me now, since I am nearly 82, they fly to the unknown. Life can never be the same. I think so many times what sweet memories I have lived since Eli and I started our life together. For me, when I once again can sleep over on the mountain with Eli, my life will again be complete.
Irene Willis Brashear
6071 Left Fork Maces Creek Road
Viper, KY 41774
Another Coal Miner's Daughter
My life as a child was in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky. I was born a "coal miner's daughter." I was the only girl, with three brothers: Palmer, Custer, and Gerald.
We were raised in a three-room house. We had no electricity or running water. Mother cooked on a coal-burning stove. We had two fireplaces which burned coal. Mother had a big garden, and we all worked it. She canned, dried, and preserved our food. Daddy walked across a mountain to dig coal with a pick and shovel. He was paid in scrip.
The only thing we bought at the commissary were coffee, sugar, salt, and flour. Everything else we grew and raised: meat, milk, butter, eggs, vegetables, and wild blackberries.
We had the mountains to run in, creeks to play in, and no one to say we were trespassing. It was a great life. I told my mother many times what a good life she had given me. I envied no one. I had all I wanted; a roof over my head, good food, and the love of my mother and daddy. I always told them I loved them when I called home.
My grandpa was Watson Combs. I loved him almost as much as my daddy. I had two uncles who helped raise us.
Corbin never married. He was like a second father, and my daddy loved him. Ivan married late in life, so I had Mother, Daddy, Pa, and my two uncles. What more could a little girl ask for?
During World War II, Daddy decided to take us to Indiana, in 1941, to the Jeffersonville Boatyard; where he was a welder. He built the LSD boats. I was in high school by this time. I met Billy Murphy my second year there. We were married August 19, 1945, soon after graduating Georgetown High School. I went to work at the boatyard where Daddy worked. I was a messenger girl. I walked and carried the mail throughout the boatyard. I knew where Daddy was, and I would walk up into those huge boats. He would be welding, with sparks flying everywhere. He couldn't hear or see me, but someone would tell him I was there. He would wave and say, "Hi there, Becky," and continue welding.
Mother and Daddy took Custer and Gerald and moved back to Kentucky. Palmer had joined the Navy by this time, and I had married. They moved while I was on my honeymoon in Cincinnati.
I had lived 19 years with them, and now they were gone. Billy and I went back every summer to see them. They lived up on a hill all the years that my kids were small. In 1962, they moved to Sassafras, Kentucky. My daddy died in 1970, from black lung and cancer. Mother died in 1993. I had a good life with them. I loved, respected, and honored them. I enjoyed every minute with them.
May they rest in peace.
Abrelia Engle Murphy
524 Glenpark Drive
Nashville, TN 37217
A Lifestyle Now Gone
It was in 1939 that I walked into my first general store. I asked for yellow cornmeal, and I learned that in southern Illinois, only white cornmeal was available. Even so, this store in Bloomfield became the center of my teen years.
Bloomfield, now another of our country's ghost towns, once had three or four stores, a blacksmith, a doctor's office, a post office, a depot, a chair shop, lodgings, a Methodist Church, and a school. By 1939, only the school, the depot (which was a boxcar with a platform), and O. F. Taylor's General Store were left.
You could have your coffee beans ground, you could have your feed ground, or you could buy feed. You could sell or trade for necessities with eggs, cream, chickens, and even fresh rabbits killed that very day. You bought bananas (priced by the dozen), penny candy, and nickel candy bars. In one corner there were shoes, work clothes, and lots of cloth and sewing needs. There was a shelf of drugs and horse harnesses hanging on the wall. There was even a pool room, which must have had a definite closing time, but this was negotiable if a big game was in progress.
There was a mysterious looking, large, black, metal box that contained customer accounts. Charges and credits were entered into a receipt pad and organized in that box, which was called a McCaskey Register. Few families had telephones, but the general store had one. A pay phone was unheard of in that time. After you finished your long distance call, you called the operator and asked the charge and left the money on the counter. The store's owner had a Delco light system, also handy for folks who had battery-operated radios to bring in their batteries for a recharge.
The front porch was complete with chairs and benches; good for visiting or waiting for a ride. The Greyhound Bus would stop if you hailed it. There was a full service gas pump, with a windshield wash and air for tires, if needed. Probably more kerosene was sold than gas. Before rural electricity, almost every household used "coal oil lamps" (or fancy Aladdin lamps), and many wives had kerosene stoves for summer cooking. You needed kerosene for incubators and brooders for baby chicks, and you certainly needed it for soaking your foot if you stepped on a rusty nail!
Daily and Sunday newspapers were always on the counter. In winter there were always men sitting around the warm stove. The country store was certainly the center of the community, with even an outdoor boxing ring, as well as meeting place for members of the ball teams.
As there were no student loan programs in those days, my father borrowed $10 from the store owner for my college tuition, the total tuition being $18.
Recycle was something we did and didn't know it. The word is in the new Webster's Dictionaries, but it wasn't in old ones.
Some of the things you might see were: a cloud pausing in its waft across the sun; the shade of an oak or a maple tree; a cool breeze through a bedroom window; a palm leaf cut in a semi-circle; an ad from a funeral home used by the ladies in church; and large blades rotating from a ceiling fan over the soda fountain. Those were our "air conditioning." Manure from barns and chicken houses carted to fields and gardens was our fertilizer. Old newspapers and magazines were drawer and shelf liners and fire starters, and old Sears & Roebuck catalogs were our Charmin.
Clothes, no longer wearable, were made into quilts and pillow covers. Woolen pieces were great for warm, heavy covers; and feed and flour were sold in printed cloth bags, perfect for dresses, dish towels, and underwear.
We had no boxes (such as cereal boxes only half-full) to throw away, since flour, coffee, sugar (brown or white), beans, dried fruit, and pickles were bought from a barrel at the general store.
There's a hole in the screen door! Uh, oh! Go buy a new one? Never! Just mend it with a little square of screen wire or cloth sewn over the hole by hand.
Seeds were saved, dried, and planted the next year. No throw-away packages and plastic nursery con-tainers. A new house plant came as a clipping from a neighbor.
Almost never a trip to the drug store for a prescription. If you were sick enough for a doctor, "Doc" just gave you medication in a little bottle or a small white envelope.
If your bucket or dishpan got a hole in it, never worry, just fill that hole with a piece of rag; or if you had any, a wad of well-chewed gum. Even dish water was used over and over. Start with two dishpans of hot water; one for washing with lye soap, and the other for the rinse. Glasses first, then dishes, followed by pans last; then pour the water into the slop-bucket for the hogs. After all, those hogs would furnish meat for the table and lard drippings for making more lye soap.
Table scraps were fed to the dogs and chickens. Whoever heard of "buying" food for dogs?
Laundry day brought out a tub of water with lye soap suds and a tub for the rinse. Start with white clothes, on to colored, and end with overalls. Then you carried the water out to wash that "little house" out back.
Diapers and sanitary rags were washed and hung out to dry along with the other laundry. Socks and darned clothes were patched, and cardboard was cut to fit the inside of a shoe to cover the hole in the sole.
Wood ashes were dampened and used to polish the top of the cookstove, and sprinkled on garden plants to discourage bugs. We walked to school instead of waiting for a yellow bus.
Now we are challenged to clean up our air and water, without going back to those "good old days" before anybody ever heard of "recycling."
12045 Malibu Lane
Marion, IL 62959
I was born in January of 1940. We moved into my parent's home on the Roaring Branch of Right Beaver Creek, in Knott County, Kentucky when I was about seven years old. We lived there until I was 18 years of age, in February 1958. My family's home was approximately a quarter of a mile up into the holler. I have some very precious memories of that period of my life. We were in the process of moving to Dry Creek in Knott County when the school bus wrecked into the Big Sandy River near Prestonsburg, in Floyd County, Kentucky.
The home of Johnny Boy Hall and his wife, Millie Mosley Hall, was situated about 400 feet up into the holler off the main road in Beaver Creek. Not long after we moved into the Roaring Branch, Crawford Mosley, Millie's brother, built a two-room house for their father, Elder J. C. Mosley. He was getting well up in years then, around 90, having been born in 1857. His loved ones wanted him living near some of them due to his senior age. He lived in that house the remainder of his life.
Elder Mosley, better known to most of the folks in the area, and here in after, called "Uncle Clabe" Mosley, was a well-known person. He was called "Brother Clabe" by the members of his church. The part of his life in which he served his God as a minister was more than 75 years, longer than many people live. He was the moderator of the Caney Fork Old Regular Baptist Church, in Caney Fork of Beaver Creek, for a number of years unknown to this writer. In his last years, the assistant moderator oversaw the duties of doing the official church work when Uncle Clabe wasn't able to be in attendance.
In retrospect, I am amazed at the physical fitness of Uncle Clabe at his age when I became acquainted with him. He would regularly go for long walks alone. The road on Roaring Branch ran through some pasture land that was fenced in. At the boundary line, a short distance downstream from our home, the fence crossed the road. A large draw bar gate crossed the road to keep the livestock in the pasture. The drivers of automobiles would have to stop, chase the cattle or horses away from that area, then lower the heavy poles that made up the draw bars, move them from across the road, proceed through the gate, then stop and do the same procedure in reverse. The poles were spaced close together, too close for an elderly person to climb between. We frequently saw Uncle Clabe coming in our direction, removing enough of the poles to be able to get through without having to stoop very low or step very high to cross through the gate. He always made it a point to stop and have a long chat with whoever was present, be it children or adults. He always had his trusted cane with him, "To whup off the mad dogs with. You never know when a mad dog or fox may jump out of the bushes and get after a fellar," he would smilingly say.
One of his grandsons, Millie's son Junior, often smilingly said, "It's a hard matter to get Grandpa to eat any kind of meat that has been purchased at the store." Uncle Clabe was known to have said, "You never know, that might have been a dead cow, a dead hog, or a dead chicken." He also had the remarkable ability to read his Bible or newspaper without the aid of reading glasses. He also stated that he had never had a case of toothache during his entire life. He said that when he was a little boy, someone told him that if he wouldn't cut his nails and shave on Sunday, he wouldn't have the toothache. He said he never did either on the advice he had been given, and it apparently worked.
I think the things I remember best were a few nights that I spent with him about a year before we moved out of the Roaring Branch. Uncle Clabe grew ill, not a grave illness, but ill enough that his family didn't want him staying alone at night. They took turns sitting by his bedside throughout the nights during his illness, which lasted about a month. Through this routine most of them became very tired and worn, none of them being young themselves. My father suggested that I stay with him a few nights so his family members could get themselves some rest. I eagerly agreed. I knew that he had lived many years, lived through some events that I had heard of, and was anxious to hear what he could tell me about the events. My younger brother, Charles William, also spent a few nights with him. He gave Charles William a book of poetry, which was about the same size and color of the spelling books we used in elementary school then. The book had been published in 1898. I don't know what ever became of the book.
Although he was ill, he was alert and glad to have company. He loved to talk to young people. I had heard some of his grandchildren talking about Uncle Clabe having been present when a man, who became known as "Bad" Talton Hall, shot the first of many men he has been alleged to have killed.
I have heard, in one way or another, legend, but mostly from what I have learned since I have been doing my family genealogy, many accounts, descriptions and theories about how bad and mean "Bad" Talton Hall was. It isn't my intent to go into that, only relate what Uncle Clabe told me. He never told me his age when this event happened, but I suspect that he must have been at least older than 21, because it was election day, and he was there to help with the election in some manner. Some people have contended that Talton only shot, not killed, the man at Dry Creek. They say that the man was Talton's brother-in-law, a Triplett. It is contended that it was a later time that Hall shot and killed the same man. I personally have no way of proving or disproving either version. I can only relate what Uncle Clabe told me, and he said the man was killed at that time. The words that Uncle Clabe told me, as nearly as I can recall, are as follows:
"It was election day. I was working in the election at the mouth of Dry Creek. There were some men who had argued several times about the candidates who were seeking office in the elections. I heard a very loud argument erupt between two of them. I stepped out to see who was arguing. It was Talton and another man. Suddenly, Talton drew his pistol and shot the other man. When the man fell to the ground and died, Talton jumped up on the fence rail and crowed, as if he were a rooster. Then he jumped to the ground and began running up Beaver Creek, probably to hide out with some of his family, who lived in the head of the creek, until it was safe for him to leave the country. He was probably afraid the man's family would try to kill him. I have heard it said that he killed a whole bunch of men in his life, but this is the only one I know anything of, because I saw it."
I later read a short story that had been written by a writer who had been very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Fox, Jr. The story was about the hanging of "Bad" Talton Hall in Wise County, Virginia. It certainly gave me a great sense of connection with history, to have heard a man, who had been witness to the subject of the story actually beginning his infamous career, tell part of the same story in person.
During a subsequent overnight stay with Uncle Clabe, I was told another story that has been supported by other accounts that I have heard and read about in various places. It was about some events that happened near the end of, or shortly after the Civil War ended. It was well-known that shortly before the Civil War ended, and for several years afterward, there were large and small bands of former soldiers from both sides of that conflict who roamed throughout the land, plundering and taking what they found if they wanted it; in any manner they desired, even if it meant killing someone to get what they wanted. In short, they were marauders, murderers, and just plain bad men. Again, as nearly as I can recall, the words of Uncle Clabe:
"When I was a little boy, probably about seven or eight years of age, I can remember my mother always being worried about her children and farm. She said there were all kinds of soldiers, bad men, and killers roaming in the hills. She was afraid they would come and hurt us in some way or another. One day she heard a big bunch of men approaching on horseback. She made us children run and hide in the barn loft. She told us to be very still and quiet. We were really scared and did as she told us. You know, a child is quite curious, and we wanted to see what was going on. Despite our mother's warning, we quietly crawled and positioned ourselves so that we could see out through the cracks in the walls of the barn. We saw a large group of men, most in uniforms. They argued with our mother, then took all of her chickens, hogs, and all the canned and dried food that she had prepared for feeding our family. I thought they were soldiers, but my mother told me they weren't soldiers, just a bunch of bad men who were too mean to work, so they took our food and livestock. I reckon there was a lot of that happening when the war was going on."
Uncle Clabe lived for little more than a year after we moved from Roaring Branch to Dry Creek. I stopped and visited with him several times, until I left that part of the world to make my living here in Ohio. It always pleased him to have visitors.
I was in Mansfield, Ohio when he passed away in 1959. He had lived well past his 102nd birthday at the time of his death. My job schedule, in the steel mill where I worked, was such that I couldn't attend his funeral. My parents told me that more people were in attendance at his funeral than they had ever seen at a funeral before. He was loved by many.
In March of 1983, I went back to the hills of beautiful Knott County for a visit, taking along lots of photography gear. It was my intent to visit with Uncle Clabe's last living daughter, Elizabeth "Little Granny" Hall, wife of Austin "Sun" Hall. She was approaching her 101st birthday, and I wanted to make a lot of photographs of her. When I told my mother my plans, she told me, "Son, you are about a week too late. She was buried last week. She got pneumonia and died." I was told that she had fallen and broken one of her hips. The pneumonia was due to inactivity because of the injury. That shocked me, because I had been looking forward to the visit for several weeks. I loved her in the same way I loved her father. It is becoming very apparent to me now that slowly, but surely, the chapters of my lifetime are being permanently closed forever.
James G. Hall
106 Lind Avenue
Mansfield, OH 44903
Growing Up In Kentucky
I was born May 2, 1928 at Bevinsville, Kentucky at my uncle's, George Hall, home. My mother, Anna Osborne, was left with eight young children after my father met with a violent death. She moved to Beaver Hill in Knott County, across Jack's Creek Hill. Here is where I can first remember that I spent a lot of time with my grandma, Rebecca Hall, widow of Henderson Hall, who also met with a violent death. He was shot in the back by a man from Hindman, Kentucky in 1896. He built the Old Regular Baptist church, Rebecca Baptist Church, named so in honor of my grandmother.
I stayed part time with my grandmother and my brother, David, who would sneak me away and take me home about a mile and a half away. When my mother came home, she was shocked to find me there.
While staying with my grand-mother, I wanted to go to school, but I was not old enough. I followed the other boys and girls to school. The teacher was stuck with a five-year-old boy, not old enough to go to school or old enough to be sent home alone. Needless to say, my brother David, two years older than me, had to take me home.
About this time in my life, the best thing that had ever happened to me was that my mother married Delzie Slone. He was the hardest working, most honest, and lovable human being I have ever known; I named my son after him.
You may say things got better, because my mother didn't have to hoe corn for 50 cents a day, from daylight till dark. We lived in an L-shaped house, with two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a dining room. We had no electricity or running water, but I must say we had a million dollar view: down the valley past Uncle John and Aunt Lizzy's, past Stumbo and Bertha Davis' house, past Jeffy Hall's store, to the little white schoolhouse, which I attended until 1941.
When a storm came up, the mountain would disappear, and my mother had about 20 minutes to put her baby chicks in a dry place and take her wash off the line. I can remember laying my head on the desk and looking up the valley, and I could tell the time by the smoke from the kitchen stove, when she was getting supper.
For lunch at school, we usually had a couple of homemade biscuits, split and filled with fried apples, covered with home-churned butter (try this sometime), and maybe a baked sweet potato. To eat the sweet potato, you sure better eat it close to a water bucket. It would choke you to death if you tried to eat in a hurry, so you could play anty-over, round town, or jump a grapevine rope. Sometimes we had milk with cornbread crumbled into it. Sometimes we had a helping of cooked green beans, with a slab of bread stacked on top. In the winter the menu was changed (shuck beans). I sure got tired of cornbread, shuck beans, and milk. But, I love them now; as a matter of fact, yesterday, for Thanksgiving 1999, I had all three!
People say you cannot go home. I do every time I go to the mountains to the Alice Lloyd Homecoming, the second Saturday in October; and memorial service at the Rebecca Old Regular Baptist Church for the deceased members, including my mother and grandmother. I meet people I went to school with, kids I have spent many days and nights in their homes: the Stumbo and Bertha Davis family; Arnold Reece; Locie Pauline, Reidth, and Annie Banner clan; Smiley King; Effort Holbrook; Willis Gibson, one of my dear friends; Preacher Ellis Holbrook; and many more that space will not allow.
When we go back, my wife will sit in the car and not say a word when I pull over beside the road, stare at some rock cliffs, where I used to view nesting barn swallows, or look at a gnarled old apple tree I used to raid after a hard rain. I sit and think about the mother, grandmother, stepfather, brothers, and sisters now gone, who I can never tell how much I love them again. I drive away with blurred vision, not wanting my wife, JoAnn, to see the tears in my eyes.
Yes, you can go home, if only for a short time in your memories.
John C. Osborne
6518 River Street
Miamitown, OH 45041
A Quilt Made With Love
My great-grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Royalty, is a person who is greatly missed by the numerous people she touched in her lifetime. Many are the precious memories that I have of her. She is often recalled with great fondness and affection to this very day, even though she has been gone since 1976.
A brief history of her life is as follows: She was born in October of 1887 to John Wesley Brown and Elizabeth Cox in Washington County, Kentucky. On February 8, 1908, she married John Carlisle (Carl) Royalty, the son of John Wesley Royalty and Laura Belle Lay. My grandfather, Marshall, was the oldest of five children born to this couple. For as long as I can remember, growing up, they lived in the old Hale place near Cartwright Creek in the Valley Hill area. It is now a bed and breakfast. They resided there until 1970, when due to health reasons of Carl, they moved to Springfield in government housing.
Great-Papaw passed away in April 1972, my senior year of high school. He had a stroke seven years prior to this. Great-Granny, as we lovingly called her, took great care of him. I spent a couple of days with her after graduation. All she could talk about was Carl. It was about this time that I asked her to make a quilt for me. She was a great seamstress and had made many for family members. She made one, and was not satisfied with the results, and so she made another and gave it to me.
I joined the Navy in September of 1972, and the quilt was kept in a trunk at my grandmother's house, Great-Granny's daughter-in-law. Great-Granny passed away in August 1976 while the ship (USS Nimitz) I was aboard was on its first deployment to the Mediterranean Sea with the US Sixth Fleet. No family member told me about her passing away until I came home on leave in February of 1977.
I convinced my grandmother to let me take the quilt back with me so that I could use it. She gave in against her better judgment. She feared that something would happen to it. I kept the quilt on my rack (that is what we called a bunk in the Navy). The Nimitz was home ported in Norfolk, Virginia at that time. In between deployments, many of the ship's crew would get apartments so that they didn't have to stay on the ship all the time. It was a regular floating city of 5,400 people. I spent a weekend with some of my friends at their place. Upon returning to the ship Sunday night, I found, much to my dismay, that someone had removed the quilt from my rack. A good friend of mine, Ray Brinkley, asked me what was wrong, for he could see how upset I was. I didn't know why, but I came up with the idea of a note, and posting it on the bulletin board in the lounge area of berthing. The note read as follows: "To whom it may concern, would you please return the quilt that you took. It was made by my great-grandmother when she was 85 years old. It was made entirely by hand, and she is now passed away. There will be no questions asked. If not, may the voice of my great-grandmother haunt you forever." I didn't know if the note would have any effect. Two weeks later, we were readying to get underway. Where I worked, we had to come in early. I had to go on watch at two a. m., and the messenger watch woke me at one a. m. On the deck (floor) beside my rack, near my head, was my quilt. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. From that time on, I kept it in my locker when not in use.
That was over 20 years ago. I still have the quilt and often think of the person that made it for me. My oldest son, Joshua, who is 17, has now laid claim to it. I often tell him and his brother, Kevin, about Great-Granny and how she would have loved them. Joshua informed me that, when he leaves home, that the quilt goes with him. I know that in my heart Great-Granny would be very glad of this. One day a child of my son's will want to hear the story of the quilt made with love.
4004 Brooksville Germantown Road
Augusta, KY 41002
One Drink Only
In 1932, my husband and I had moved to a new neighborhood several miles away. My oldest child was about two or three months old at the time. Where we lived wasn't in sight or hearing distance of anyone. There was a widow woman that had three grown kids, a girl about 16 and two boys. The girl, Mable, came to visit me several times and had invited me to visit them.
One day my husband was gone, and I was lonely, so I decided to go over and visit them. It was about a half-mile. I packed up my baby and went over. When I got there my baby was asleep, and the lady said, "Lay your baby on the bed." About that time, the girl came out of the kitchen with a bucket and said, "Do you want to go with me to take dinner to the boys?" I thought they were working on the farm. Her mother said, "The baby will be fine, just go with her." So we went out a short way, and there was a deep ravine. Her two brothers were sitting by a fire, and other things were around it. I said, "Well, what in the world is that?" She said, "Be quiet. That is a moonshine still, and the county road is close by behind those trees." She said, "Come here," and she got us two hollow weeds, and we went over to a 60-gallon barrel. She said, "Blow back the foam and taste that. It's good!" I did as she said and drank some.
The next day, one of the boys stopped by the house. He said, "You know what was in that still beer you and Mable were drinking? A dead possum, and it was swollen so big the hair was slipping from it." It happened the day before, but I still felt sick.
Cynthia E. Griffin
P. O. Box 1190
Corbin, KY 40701
Christmas during the 1950s and 1960s was somewhat different than today. Oh, the anticipation and excitement as we waited for Old Saint Nick! We began making our lists around the first of November and would change our minds so often that the lists would be very tattered and ragged, and I'm surprised Santa could actually read them, as submitted. The local radio station began reading our letters to Santa after Thanksgiving, and we would sit huddled around the old Philco radio, so as not to miss hearing ours being read. I think we figured if Santa heard our wishes over the air, it would increase our chances of getting everything we asked for. Of course, we knew not to ask for more than one or two items, as Santa was not as affluent then as now.
I seem to remember that Old Man Winter blew colder then, and appeared earlier in the season than today. Therefore, when we went to the hills to collect our tree, we were bundled appropriately. Daddy (Ed Nickels) would make a big production of finding just the right tree, measuring each to see which would fit in the space allotted in the living room. He would circle them, asking our opinion of each view. After our choice was made, he would begin chopping with the ax he brought along. Unfortunately, seldom did we find a tree, which was symmetrical by any stretch of the imagination, but we simply put the most barren part toward the wall. Each year we bragged that this year's tree was the best so far.
Now the real joy began, as we proceeded to decorate our acquisition. Eddie, the oldest of us, had the honor of placing the star on top. I can see him now, as a young lad, having to drag a kitchen chair in to stand on, and as the years passed, he no longer needed any help, as he grew to be six feet, two inches tall. After this was done, the rest of us: myself, Phil, Rita, Jimmy, and later Kathy, began placing the one strand of lights strategically for the best effect. We always made rope by cutting strips of notebook paper, coloring them brightly, and gluing them together. We placed them carefully around the front of the tree and never bothered putting anything on the back. It couldn't be seen, so why bother? We hung strands of popcorn, which we had worked on the previous day or so. Then it was time for the round glass balls, and we were very careful with these, as they had to be reused year after year. They had been very pretty in the beginning, but after years of use, the paint was peeling, and now only a spattering of the original color was visible. But when the lights shone on them, they were as jewels in our eyes. Finally, the crowning glory of each tree were the icicles. These had to be bought new each year, as they were not salvageable, and we took great pride in devising unique ways to place them onto the tree. Rita had the annoying habit of delicately placing them one by one, but that method only allowed her to put very few on, as the rest of us grabbed them and began tossing.
Usually, an old coal bucket or 50 pound "Fischers" lard bucket was used to hold the tree, and rocks were placed in the bucket to keep it upright. About once every three days, we filled the bucket about one fourth full of water to retain some semblance of the tree's moisture, but invariably the pine needles would make little puddles on the old sheet used for a tree skirt, and we would have to take the tree down the day after Christmas for safety's sake.
Oh, but what a thrill to wake up on Christmas morning and find Santa had come, leaving each of us a gift! We tore into those meager packages like wild things, tossing the wrapping in every direction. Only then did we check Daddy's work socks (used for stockings, as they were the largest in the house; we were small, but not dumb). They were always filled to the brim with fruit, candy, and a mixture of nuts. Each of us compared stockings to see if Santa favored one over the other and always found he treated us the same. How Mommy and Daddy were able to manage all this opulence is beyond me, but they always found a way.
We never bothered with breakfast, and we would run outside to check for reindeer prints. If there was snow on the ground, all the better to see hoofprints, but we would inspect the frozen ground just as feverishly, on the off chance that Rudolph, being the largest, therefore the heaviest, had left an indentation. One year, after an exceptionally heavy snow, Mommy found me about halfway to the roof. I was going to find those prints! I was crestfallen that she made me come down before I had a chance to reach the top.
I'm sure every reader has wonderful Christmas memories as I have. I remember times as being more serene then, without the hustle, bustle, and commercialism accompanying today's holidays, but maybe I simply choose to remember it so. Regardless, I find solace in my memories.
3703 Thornton Road
Thornton, KY 41855
I couldn't wait until Christmas. I had hung my long stocking on the mantel above our fireplace. I loved to sit in front of that fireplace. I sat in my dad or mom's lap. They told me Christmas stories from memory. I loved to hear my dad tell about the baby Jesus being born on Christmas. He always ended the story with the song, "Jesus Loves Me."
We were out of school two weeks before Christmas. I helped Mom clean our little house. I went with her to feed the animals and milk the cow. As we sat in the barn, she told me about the baby Jesus being born in a stable much like ours. She showed me the horse's manger. I could see in my imagination a tiny baby lying there.
As Christmas grew nearer, Mom baked cakes, and Dad brought in a big ham from the smokehouse. Mom put brown sugar on the ham and then covered in with honey. She then put a cover on it to wait for baking on Christmas Eve.
On the day before Christmas, my dad killed a fat hen. Mom already had the ham in the old coal stove oven. She had baked apple pies, and the fruit cake was ready. She cleaned the hen, cut her up, and put her on to cook. I could just taste the chicken and dumplings we would have tomorrow. I loved the old-fashioned food. It never occurred to me how hard Mom had to work to get everything cooked on the old coal stove.
My dad brought in extra wood for the fireplace. Mom lit the coal-oil lamp, and I couldn't wait for it to get dark that Christmas Eve. I sat in my dad's lap, as he told me about the first Christmas, and how baby Jesus was born on a cold winter night like this.
Mom suddenly opened the old wooden door letting in cold wind. She laughed and told me to come look. She said that she believed she saw Santa Claus in the far northern sky. I looked, and I agreed that it was Santa. Now I know that it was just stars twinkling in the night sky.
My dad said that Santa would soon be at our house. Mom got us a big slice of fruit cake and milk to drink. We ate. Then my dad said that he thought he heard Santa Claus outside. He told me to run look out the back door. Mom went with me. We looked and listened, but couldn't see or hear Santa.
After a few minutes Dad called us back to the living room. There to my surprise was a little red rocking chair. In the chair was the most beautiful doll that I had ever seen or would ever see. It was porcelain with a painted face and lips. It had auburn red hair. Dad and Mom told me that Santa left it for me.
I sat in my new red rocking chair holding my new doll. I named her Susie. Mom and Dad sat by the fire smiling and talking. That little old coal miner's home was filled with love that night.
This is my most precious Christmas memory. I tell my grandchildren about this, and they ask if that was all the gifts I got that Christmas. I know that I was happier with my chair and doll than children of today are with all the gifts they receive. I was poor, but I didn't learn that until I went away to college.
I would love to visit, once again, the time of my precious Christmas, but I know that I can only do that in my memory.
Elizabeth H. McKinney
RR 1 Box 130
Keokee, VA 24265
My First Kiss
My first kiss in November 1940 was the one that meant the most to me and would stay with me forever. The reason is that the one who kissed me was to become my husband and father and grandfather to our children. I will tell you all about it.
My best girlfriend, Geneva Amis, introduced us. We were at church. He had come from Houston, Kentucky (Turkey Creek) in Breathitt County, Kentucky to stay with his Uncle Mose and Sarah McIntosh. She was Geneva's aunt. So we would see each other every Sunday at church and Sunday School.
So one Sunday before church, he asked me if he could walk me home, and, you know, I didn't get very much out of the lesson that day.
We started home, and in knowing where we lived in Happy Hollow, above the church, he wanted to wait out there to give me that kiss (because of its name), and because it was going to be there he would propose to me. So before we got home, he gave me the kiss, and it was like the Fourth of July fireworks. The sparkles in my eyes, you should have seen them as we went home. When Dad and Mom saw me, they knew I had fallen in love right then. So about four months later, he asked my dad and mom for me. On December 27th, one Saturday at 3:30, I was married by Pastor Ed Amis to my husband, Alex Johnson.
We have one daughter, Myrtle Katherine; and two sons, Ronald Astor and Jackson Eugene; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter, Christina.
That's what became of the perfect kiss.
Mary Lee Johnson
2806 State Route 122
Franklin, OH 45005
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