Saturday, December 12

Christmas With Lady Godiva

She came down our "holler" riding her white horse in the wee morning hours of Christmas Eve. The snow was falling on the ground and she was butt naked astride that horse and our house sat ride on the unpaved street at that time and she was either drunk or in a stewed condition for she rode that horse right through our front door. (back then we didn't have to lock our doors, etc.) Dad and Mom were busy putting "Santa" under the tree and of course me and my sister heard the big racket and jumped up to see what it was just knowing Santa had fallen down the chimney and broken his neck, but it wasn't Santa we seen but this butt naked woman. Dad and Mom realized we were standing there, Mom grabbed for the curtains hanging on the windows and whatever else she could find to cover her up, and Dad, bless his heart, he was torn out of his frame because we had got them playing Santa and he lost it and shouted, "Ah, hell, youngans come and get it, your Granny was right, there's no Santa Claus". However, we paid no attention evidently because Dad and Mom played Santa for several years thereafter. That was Christmas Eve, 1942, or by that time it really was Christmas Day. Years later, I became aware of the ride of Lady Godiva and that is what I dubbed this night thereafter, "Christmas with Lady Godiva". I found out she was confused from having suffered a terrible beating from her boyfriend/husband and Mom and Dad took care of her until daylight and seen that she was able to straddle that horse again and head back up the holler. Mom had clothed her by then. I seen her time and again thereafter and often wonder what ever happened to her.

Wednesday, December 9

My little heart was pounding as my Dad and I started our climb up the hill behind The Bakery on our quest for our Christmas Tree. Snow was just beginning to fall and as I huffed and puffed we got nearer to our destination, the trees growing around birch rock. Dad would caution me, "Idy, don't slip and head over the mountain to Big Bottom." I smiled and caught the snowflakes with my tongue.

Just as Dad finished telling me not to slip, slip I did and I could see Big Bottom below. Maybe I was too excited about our quest to get scared but a clump of trees sitting right off a big rock caught my fall. I knew right off that the tree which sort of cushioned my fall was the one that needed to go down the hill with my Dad and me.

"Idy, honey that tree is scraggly, let's go farther back in the mountain where no one goes where we will find the biggest, prettiest tree in Hazard." I knew he was right 'cause we made many a trek to Birch Rock to dig ginseng, pick the grandest wildflowers in the world that bloomed in the nooks and crannies of the rocks that nature had put there for a flower bed, and yep, as I got older we would take picnic lunches and head to Birch Rock for an outing. Sometimes, we would take our "fellers" with us and maybe steal a kiss or two with only the birds, squirrels and other forest creatures as witnesses to this "stolen kiss".

We continued our quest for the family tree, but guess what, my mind was with the scraggly tree down the hill. Dad could tell where my heart was and we began our descent, stopping only long enough for Dad to take his axe and cut this anything but perfect tree. The snow was falling harder and the sky was turning darker and we knew we had to hurry while there was still enough light to get safely down the hill. However, both of us knew this path by heart for we had traveled it oh so many times.

We got the tree to our front porch and Mom sort of smiled a hidden laughing one as I call it, but only said, "Can't wait to see what you do with this one, Howard."

Here, I have to tell you my Dad was multi-talented and he made most of the clothes that I wore and I knew Dad could make a beauty out of this scraggly tree. As me and my sister, Thelma Jean, watched, Dad got busy and out of boxes of collected Christmas ornaments he chose this and that and added them with the cranberry ropes and popcorn ropes, tossing bright silver icicles here and there, and as we stood there, this scraggly tree was taking on a whole new picture. Dad carefully placed the tree lights as only he could, making the "candle light" lights illuminating our tree, not only the tree but the entire room in which it stood. Dad put the finishing touch on our tree that year with our Family Star that was kept for many years after his death. He had worked magic as that scraggly tree stood all arrayed in a fine and eloquent makeover that in my heart I knew only Dad could have done. As the Heavenly Star twinkled at the top and the little candle lights flickered, it was time for us to go to bed and let the sugar plums dance in our heads. Oh, for the heart of a little child and the simple things that we saw transformed into magical things.

"Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree, how lovely are thy branches..."

Monday, December 7

December 7th 1941, that day, as President Roosevelt said, "...will live in infamy..." Goodness, I was 8 years old and was playing outside and I remember the snow was falling and the radio was always playing at 109 Liberty Street, and every house up the street always had theirs own, and I got cold and was coming in to stand before the fireplace to warm my butt and hands when the news broke and I remember Uncle Matt and Aunt Laura went outside on our big surround porch and sounded the news, doors opened and the neighbors shared this time in December. Some shouted, some cried, some made their children come in from playing in the snow. I suppose to keep us safe. Anyhow, I can remember Roosevelt's strong voice and his words as if it were yesterday. I was only 8 but I knew something dreadful had happened. Later that evening, Uncle Matt (who had taught school in his younger days) sat me in his lap in a big chair by our warm fire and gave me an easy geography lesson on where Pearl Harbor was and what, in his words, he thought had happened. As the fire began to die out that night, I lay beside Granny in her big feather bed and instead of stories of sugar plum fairies, Granny told me about what being in War meant. From that day on, I had a new word in my vocabulary, "WAR" and it has never ceased to be an active word to this day, 2009, some 68 years ago.

Friday, November 20

Keep Your Nose to the Grindstone

A few days ago I had an old fashioned water grindstone mounted by David Russell from out on Lotts Creek way. David did a very excellent job from what I have heard from so many old timers. I don't think I have heard so many comments in regard to a piece of work of the old time way of doing things. Two old fellows were admiring the makes of what they called a modern piece of machinery. One stated that he left off the watering can. Another spoke up and said, "when in the hell was you born? This is the type of grinder that we used before tin cans were ever heard of." Someone suggested to me that this could bring back memories of many water wheels on the rivers and streams where meal used to be ground. One was mentioned down Dwarf way where a tunnel was cut through the mountain to divert the water to turn these wheels that made the meal for the residents of our area. 1961

Tuesday, November 17

W. M. Engle Sr., one time Hazard Mayor, founded the Hazard Hardware Company in 1912. It was a wholesale and retail establishment for undertaking and hardware supplies. The firms two departments were eventually separated and incorporated as Engle Hardware on Main Street, and Engle Funeral Home opened on East Main and was operated by William Engle Jr. Engle Hardware continued to operate under the management of Aileen Engle Combs, the daughter of W. M. Engle Sr., and her husband George Combs.

After severe damages suffered in the 1957 flood, the store was completely remodeled and modernized to operate as a florist and gift shop. Click on image to enlarge

Monday, November 16

It is always good to see many of our older native boys and gals in Hazard. There is White Jim Combs, Jim Fields, some call him Bean Pole, I reckon because he can walk most any ordinary fellow down I have heard, ask Cushaw Couch. Charlie Robinson and Jim Cole have big smiles on their faces everyday. Jim Lunce, Roy Baker, Budge Tony, and Arthur Bailey are ready to start fishing and whittling again. It is hard for them to make up their minds. Former Circuit Judge Sam Ward seems to be doing right well. He always has a good joke to tell.

One of these days, before long, I hope to see an old-timers day or night. It won't make any difference unless some of you having regular sleeping habits. Yes, you ladies will be invited too. This might be the thing we need. We need to hear from a lot of you about your younger days. It could inject some ideas what the younger ones should be doing today. I am no spring chicken, don't claim to be one, past that half century mark. 1962

Sunday, November 15

Survey Says ...

Now, shame on you, Dr. Oz, labeling our little town nestled deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, as "unhappy". Have you been here? Did you take a survey of town folks? Out of those town folks you would have found doctors, lawyers, and other professionals who graduated from Hazard High School, went off to College, came back to make their living in this "unhappy" surrounding. You would have also found professionals who sought this "unhappy" little town to settle in to practice their different trades. You would hear stories about how The Dukes of Hazzard loved this "unhappy" town so much they kept coming back. Why, guess what? When my children were young, The Dick Clark Show came to this "unhappy" place. I could go on and on really but what's the use.

I was born in this "unhappy" place, got married, went to CA to be with my husband while he served his country, and it was there I got highly educated in adultery, drunkenness, murder, etc. All the things I was taught to shun was very prominent in CA in that time frame known as the Fifties. Yep, I wrote back home and told my folks what I had seen and they told me to take the first air flight out of that "modern day evil place". Dr. Oz, I saw a side of living that my sleepy little "unhappy" town in KY could not hold a light to.

However, I did find something good. There was an Owl Drugstore nearby and I would go down there to get a soda time and again. I would ask for a "cherry coke" and honestly, they asked me to tell them how to make it and they would...but, from behind the prescription counter, this voice came forth, "Hey, I know how to make cherry cokes...and with this the voice came to life when this fine man came to the counter and asked me where I was from. I told him Hazard, Kentucky...he threw back his head and laughed, "Oh, I know where you are from. I know that area well." With this said and my mind in a tizzy because I didn't know anyone would know where Hazard was. He went on to tell me the names of all the little towns up and down Perry County, i.e., Duane, Blue Diamond, Jeff, Typo, on and on. I was thrilled because I had found someone that knew my home territory.

I asked him if he were a native of our county and he told me no but that he had worked in his younger days for the Jewel Tea Coffee Company and they gave him the route he had spouted out to me. He must have made enough selling coffee to these "unhappy" people in Hazard and surrounding little villages to buy into one of the chain drugstores. Everytime I look at my Jewel Tea dishes that I have collected through the years (and they are highly sought after) I think of this man, and thought of him again when I read the Dr. Oz segment.

So, you see, Dr. Oz you have judged a little town as "unhappy". I betcha a poll would find you more happy people in that area than unhappy. You could have gone around Hazard and been surprised at what you could find that would fall on the other side of this coin. I am proud to say that Hazard High School offered me an education that most people meeting me thinks I was a member of the higher learning clan. I know times in Hazard have changed and I don't live there anymore but my heart is still there and I get rilled up when I hear it talked about. The younger generation coming up there might be disgruntled for some reason or another but it appears most of them always find themselves coming back to "the mountains". Why, because the people are true, what you see is what you get, no facades which is a way of life in CA if it has not changed. Hazard and Harlan Kentucky are well known from sea to shining sea.

Just to tell you, Dr. Oz, I don't watch your show and I bet your watching audience has fallen, or has it?

Saturday, November 14

A few days ago I talked with a family from a large city. They stated that Hazard was the most friendly city that they had been in. To me this sounded good. They stated that all through the area that they had never met such accommodating people. This makes me feel good and makes my chest swell out to know that our people are so well thought of. 1961

Thursday, November 5

First Moon Shot From Hazard

I get such a kick out of reading Roscoe's quips that I found myself this morning reading his Red Longhandles again and I giggled out loud as I remembered so vividly one of Roscoe's friends who lived near us who would, like all the others, put their longhandles away when Spring came and they would start wearing their nightshirts. Yep, the old men would don nightshirts that hit them about the knee with slits on both sides, and even some of them, who were bald, would add a nightcap to this sleeping attire. Uncle Matt was famous for his nightshirt and nightcap at our house.

Back to the neighbor who always went to bed at the first sign of darkness creeping in. We children would play tag under the street lights until the call to come in sounded. Well, one evening we were playing tag and running up and down the holler, and one hid near this neighbor's porch, running up on it for a short period, knocking over one of the porch chairs. The lights went on inside and here came the neighbor, and his wife, right behind him, to see what all the "racket" was about. Not knowing that the chair had been pushed over, here he belted out of the screen door, and mind you, the street light, haloed him real good, he stood out, and while we were all huddled around the street light he fell over the fallen chair. Well, what a sight to behold!!! Young eyes were glued as this poor feller's nightshirt flew up his back and there he was in the street light's gleam, butt naked, lying there yelling for his wife to "kiver me up, kiver me up, for these hellcats have done seen my a__, Lordy, Lordy, hurry..." She tried to "kiver" him up but we had all seen "sich a horrible sight for young eyes". Giggling we all parted and went home. You might say this was the beginning of streaking. Yep, old man Campbell "mooned" us that night and that was one sight not easily forgotten. To this day, I can recall it with a giggle.

Monday, November 2

Old Time Gadgets

With November comes the cold temperatures and many of you have been hunting for the long handles during this spell. Believe me, I was one of them. I started a little late, I tramped the town over, couldn't find any to fit. Maybe I was a little too particular. I wanted a modern version of them, without the flap and all the buttons. Finally, after two trips, Rusty over at Watsons said, "I believe I have a red suit that will fit you." I said, "I don't care what the color or what have you, if it will keep me warm." Now I am the proud owner of one pair of red drawers. I have heard of them all my life, never did think I would have a pair. By granny, they feel good, so good I wanted to sleep in them. You know how it is, I am not the only one in my household, my wife says no to that. I can remember when these kinds of garments was as popular during the night as they were in the day time. Since times have changed so much with all the modern gadgets, such as steam heat, gas heat, insulated houses, I can see why some of the old time gadgets have gone out of style. I will still say I like my long handles regardless of what color. 1962

Saturday, October 31

I was watching Dancin' With The Stars tonight and my daughter said, "what would Auntie say if she were here and saw these scanty outfits and the throwing of legs, etc?" At that I left the here and now and my mind went racing back to that night on Liberty Street in the 60's when we all were sitting around our tv watching the Glen Campbell Show. I forget who the dancer was but my Auntie and Granny had sat down to watch the show with us. Bear in mind they were not tv watchers and it was "of the devil".

The ballet dancers were great and they faded back a little and he picked her up above his head and in pure form there she was giving it her all; Granny about fainted as she said, "Lordy, Lordy, Laura, have you ever seen sich a sight, she's pite-nite naked, dancin' round in her "shimmey shirt and drawers". Auntie started squirming and her mouth was moving but nothing was coming out. My young daughter (who is now 55) thought Auntie was having a "fit". About that time he brought her down and lifted her back up and put his hand in under her to obtain a good stance and all Hell broke lose at 109 Liberty Street. Auntie jumped up, grabbed Granny, all the time letting me have it, "Idy, turn that devil machine off, not fit for youngans or old folks" Granny chimed in, "Idy, never saw sich vulgar dancing in my life, why she was half naked and that twern't enuf for that feller, he had to grab her by her crotch and lift her above his head again....mercy, mercy, land sakes a-live, them youngans don't need to see sich as that, turn it off, turn it off...hey, Matt, put yore foot through that thang right now." Uncle Matt just laughed and kept on puffing on his pipe. Honest, I liked to have never calmed them down to listen to what they really saw. Bless their hearts they were in golden years both of them and I think this was the first show they had seen and I look back with their eyes and it must have been nerve-racking to them.

Anyhow, that was then and this is now and they would have both passed clean out I am sure to see some of the costumes and dancers of this day and time. They are both long gone but their reaction to their first ballet dance we will never forget.

Wednesday, October 21

60 Years Ago

The Grand Vue Drive In Theater opened on October 22, 1949, under the management of J. C. Amusement Company, a partnership of Gene Combs and Dick Johnson. This was before television found its way to eastern Kentucky.

“Blue Lagoon," a 1st run Technicolor movie starring Jene Simmons, was the first feature shown at the Grand Vue, which was located on the Combs Road in the Airport Gardens section of Perry County. The price of admission was 49 cents for adults, children were admitted free, and the lot held a capacity of 300 autos. At that time, there were only a few residents in the area, no hospital, schools, or businesses. The Grand Vue was the first of its kind in the Hazard area.

The 1957 flood, which got two feet over the top of the concession stand at the Grand Vue, brought about a lot of changes. The screen was enlarged for Cinemascope to 60 x 80 feet, to make it the largest in eastern Kentucky. Also, the sound system was converted to stereo and the lot was enlarged to handle 500 vehicles.

When the screen was first erected, the J.C. Amusement Company received a bit of static from the federal Aeronautics Association in Washington. The screen supposedly interfered with the flight traffic pattern of the nearby airport. The Grand Vue owners were told to tear down the screen. In arguing that the screen offered no obstruction, Dick Johnson told the Federal folks, “If they (the pilots) fly into it and that doesn’t kill them, we will.” The controversy soon died down and business went on as usual.

In 1957 - Kenneth Zimmerman took over as manager and maintained the position until his retirement in the spring of 1975. His wife, Goldie, put in her share of the work wherever needed. In the earlier years, this job was handled by co-owner Gene Combs, Ken’s brother-in-law, and, the concession stand was operated by Gene’s wife, Katie.

According to Gene Combs, who bought out his partner, Dick Johnson, in the mid-60’s, Hazard's Grand Vue was the first drive-in this part of the country to play first-run movies. One of the first major features was “Samson and Delilah.” Traffic was backed up for several miles in each direction – as far as the Colonial Club on one end and past Combs on the other end – with people waiting to get in to see this film.

Other popular movies included: “The Ten Commandments,” which ran for five days; Walt Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog,” and “Gone With The Wind,” which ran several different times over the years. In the early '70s “Walking Tall,” drew a huge crowd.

On one occasion, a nearby auto accident knocked out a power pole that affected only the sound system at the drive-in. However, this caused no alarm, nor refunds because the film happened to be a silent one, Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights.”

The Grand Vue offered the people a form of entertainment other than movies. Country music and western celebrities of the day came to Hazard to perform from the top of the concession stand. Among those bringing their stage shows to the Grand Vue were: Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Mack Brown, Lash LaRue, Don Red Barry, the Carter Family, featuring June Carter Cash and Mother Maybelle, and the Carter Brothers. One Flatt & Scruggs show, which was taped by the NBC network drew 1,500 people. The Ink Spots, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Actor - Fuzzy Knight, Smiley Burnett and Tim Holt also made personal appearances.

The Grand Vue owners were also community minded. They offered their facilities to the Perry County Ministerial Association and the public for the purpose of Easter Sunrise Services for many years. The annual fireworks display was an event people looked forward to each 4th of July. Some will remember their "dusk to dawn" shows when the public was treated to five different movies. Then there was a period where the drive-in was used as a race track for go-carts on weekends, known as the Grand Vue Speedway.

Every Walt Disney film ever produced was shown "first run" at the Grand Vue. Surprisingly, Disney films were the most expensive to obtain. One in particular, “The Shaggy Dog,” proved to be the most expensive of all because the distributors forced theaters to charge 50 cents for children and required 50 per cent of the gate.

The end of an era came in 1977 when the Grand Vue Drive Theater ended its long run of nearly 30 years. The fence, marquee, concession stand, screen, playground and speakers were all dismantled to make way for progress. The Grand Vue Plaza Shopping Center would be built here.In recounting his memories of the Grand Vue’s performance, Gene Combs stated that they, the management, “enjoyed seeing so many people and made a lot of acquaintances and friends over the years.” They employed an average of ten people during each of the March 1 – November 1 seasons. The employee of the longest tenure was Mrs. Emily Emeurer, who was the concession stand cashier for over 20 years.When the Grand Vue opened in 1949, the price of admission was 49 cents. Rising costs and inflation forced them to to increase the price of admission to $2.00 by the 1970s. Children under 12 were still admitted free.The last movies ever shown at the Grand Vue Drive In were seen on March 13th 1977, a double billing – Clint Eastwood starring in “Hang ‘em High,” and Max Baer’s production of “Ode to Billy Joe.”

Monday, October 12

"Evening Fellers"

It was around 1950 and I was in High School. Everyone was wondering what they were going to dress up as to go here and there for Halloween. Hazard's Main Street always was the place to go and see everyone. Honestly, it reminded me of the Easter Parade on 5th Avenue. Well, I was determined to really have a good one lined up for this one. Mom dressed up like an old Hobo, Dad was dressed up like a fine young lady, and me, well, I had to hide to get myself ready for my surprise.

My good friend and I were hatching up an idea that had been circling in our brains for a day or two and we figured Halloween would be the night to carry this plot out. You see, her Dad had been visiting The Wheel that sat on the corner of Main Street, an eyesore for the community, most would say, and my Dad had admonished me, "don't you walk by that place, cross the street, and when you get by that honky-tonk then you can recross and continue on your way." Well, I didn't listen to him at all and I was determined to show him how wrong he was about just walking by this place of business. So, I did, and guess what, a fight had commenced inside and it sounded like all Hell had broken loose. My heart raced and I started to cross the street and as I did someone inside threw a pepper shaker at someone leaving and it hit me square in the head. After a long I told you so conversation I promised never to pass that place again.

I did not, always crossed over by Ishmael Stacy's Gas Station, but the more I thought of this place and the things I had heard about its reputation, the more I was intrigued by it all. In talking with my friend, she and I decided to dress up that night and try our hand at getting inside this awful place of ill repute. We were just teens, "skeered" stiff really, but wanting to see what there was about this place that made it bear the name of a place of ill repute. We knew we had to look much older and decided we could not do that as girls so we dressed up like two old men, ragged but clean old men, with pipes, mustaches, the works, along with two hats that I slipped out of the house belonging to Uncle Matt. We looked good, and passed the test when we walked down our street and were greeted with "Evening fellers".

Off to The Wheel we went. Needless to say things were abuzzing inside, and we were lucky because the smoke filled room gave us a good curtain to pull off getting in and out without any trouble. We sat down at a booth near the door so we could run and the waitress came and took our order, two root beers with lots of ice. Looking at us with a funny frown, she headed to get our order. She walked right up to this nice looking dude, who looked like he had just stepped out of a magazine, got a little too close for my friend because, you see, that was her Pop. She was telling him something because she pointed at us and we knew something was in the air. My friend was ready to high tale it out the door when guess what???? Coming through that door was my Mom and Pop dressed as I stated above. The smoke was like a thick fog coming in off of the ocean, and we could tell they were looking for someone because this was not the place they would be either. I heard my mother in a deep voice that she could do, "Lookin' fer two teens who are out of place in this establishment, have you seen anyone like that?" They didn't get the chance to find us because on a whiff of the smoke we got lost in the haze and made it to the door. Both of us considered ourselves very lucky because we would have gotten a good whomping for entering this "evil place".

This is not all. We were standing down the street toward Reda's Grocery and I saw my half sister who was working at the A & P coming down the street. She was going to catch the train for her ride home to Jeff. My Mom and Pop siddled up to her and my Mom put her arm around her and said, "How about a date, you good looking thing?" My sister who had no idea who this was hauled off and belted my Mom knocking her back and Pop caught her. What a surprise when my half-sister discovered that she had just knocked her Mom out, almost anyhow. Apologies brought tears and then tears turned to laughter and that Halloween night went down in history for us. Now, where could this have happened but in Hazard Ky on a cold October Halloween night?

Tuesday, October 6

Fathers and mothers, soon another Halloween night will roll around. I know many of you are planning some type of party for the little ones, please don’t forget the larger kids from 12 and up – plan something for them also. Don’t leave it up to them to find their own amusement on this occasion. Did you ever stop to think that it could cause trouble? I am sure with the proper instruction in regard to what Halloween night should be, you will never have any regrets in regard to what kids do. I can recall in my boyhood days that many things were done on this night that caused people to suffer from it. For instance, turning over their outhouses, taking the wheels off their wagons, today it would be taking the wheels off their cars. It would be pretty hard trying to turn over the present day out houses, most are built in the house itself. Regardless if it was twenty five years ago to the pranks that were played on this night, it still will cost the owner as much or more to replace today. As a word to both old and young, please heed to the occasion of being considerate of your deeds on this coming Halloween night. Kids have a big time on this gala event, remember that dollars don’t grow on trees. You could cost some poor soul his or her monthly security check. Please be careful, have your fun, lets do it in the modern way of education. 1957

Tuesday, September 15

The old Perry County Court House was destroyed by fire in the year of 1911. At that time the public square was occupied by a court house, jail, and jailer’s residence. The jail was a brick structure on the corner of the street which is now called Lovern Street, the street between the court house and the Salyers building. The jailer’s residence was a small brick structure of two or three rooms facing Main Street and between the jail and the court house. There had been a kitchen and dining room built to the jail out of lumber. There is where the fire started.

J. G. Campbell was county judge at the time. J. D. Bud Davis was County Court Clerk, Lee Daniel was Circuit Court Clerk, and with hard work all the deed books and record books in the two clerk’s offices were saved during the 1911 fire.

Judge Campbell immediately went to work to have a new court house constructed. A bond issue was submitted to the people but it failed to carry but Judge Campbell and the fiscal court managed to get a contractor to build the new Perry County Court House in 1912 on the credit of the county and it was paid for afterwards. At that time the water works in Hazard was not entirely satisfactory so a deep well was drilled at the back of the court house next to High Street and a large steel tank was erected and the water pumped into the tank. This furnished water to the court house and later it was extended on down to the county jail. The steel tank was later taken down and water was furnished by the city.

The court house clock has been out of order for many years but it did all right for awhile and then it quit. I don’t know why, but maybe it was no good from the beginning. I remember one time when I was County Attorney around 1914, I occupied the little corner office next to the Hurst Hotel and next to Main Street just off from the main court room. I was in my office one day and a bolt of lightning hit the court house on top of the belfry or the place where the clock is located. I know that it shook the entire building and raised dust all over the main court room. That may have caused the clock to stop, I don’t know. I know that several attempts have been made since that time to start the clock again and it would respond temporarily and then quit.

Sunday, September 13

Buckhorn Lake State Park is located off Kentucky 28 near Buckhorn in Perry County with a 3.4 mile access road to the lodge and park. Facilities include a boat dock with launching ramps around the 1,230 acre lake. Nestled in the scenic Cumberland Mountains, the lake has bass, crappie, and channel catfish. It is an impoundment of the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. Recreation at the park includes beach swimming, picnicking and playground facilities.

Blending with the mountains all around Buckhorn Lake is a beautiful lodge made from native stone with a wood exterior. Two level wings on either side of the central building provide covered access to the dining room, lobby and gift shop.

Pleasing d├ęcor and comfortable furniture plus a striking view of the lake and the hills makes the lobby headquarters a great place for informal chats and relaxation. A glass-enclosed television room adjoining the lobby provides added privacy. The spacious glass wall, open beam ceiling, and a fireplace on the lake side also contribute to the atmosphere of comfort and relaxation.

All of the 24 luxurious rooms in the lodge have private patios overlooking beautiful Buckhorn Lake. They are located in wings which extend to both sides of the central lobby area. From the tiled entrance to the private patio, the rooms are designed for vacation comfort. Each has a television, telephone, two double beds and other modern furniture, thick wall-to-wall carpeting, tiled bathroom, and a spectacular view of Buckhorn Lake. All rooms are air conditioned and have individually-controlled heat.

A view of the lake is just one of the pleasant features in the modern and attractive dining room of the lodge. Private dining rooms can be created on either side by sliding oak-paneled partitions.

Saturday, September 12

Pretty as a post card. Those words perfectly describe the quality and beauty of many picture post cards that we see on those rotating racks at Fouts Drug, Hazard Drug, and other businesses in town. I remember the first time I discovered that these scenes were not from a movie, but from my very own town. It was as if we were famous. They don't just put anybody on a post card, do they? I thought that was reserved for Niagara Falls, Miami Beach or the Kentucky Derby. But Hazard, Kentucky?

I remember how proud I felt when I realized that the scenes that were displayed before me were my home. The colors were magnificent. At the time, it seemed that the only people who could produce such a perfect picture were the apparent magicians who made these post cards. My pictures never looked that, neither did yours. Not only did they produce scenic views of places I had taken for granted, they provided a history lesson of our town that couldn't be found in any school book. There were early photos of Main Street in Hazard, scenes of the first train in Perry County, and historic buildings that proudly overlooked the town. And we can buy these wonderful images for just a few cents? How can that be? What better way to say hello to a distant friend than with a postcard from Hazard. Even if I never purchase one, I'll be back tomorrow to give the rack a spin and look at these great images again.

Monday, September 7

In the early Forties we were all familiar with the Goose House. Thought it was a little odd but it had always been there. Just like the graveyard on down the road with all the little houses built on the graves. There was a grocery store next to the Goose House. I think the owner was named Pence. He and my dad were good friends and they occasionally went fishing together.

One summer weekend, Pence decided we would take the big truck and drive down to the Knoxville Farmers Market and get a load of watermelons for the grocery store. Pence had a son about the same age as me. On the way down we stopped over at Norris Dam and did some fishing. Me and the other kid eventually took a friend's motor boat out and we toured the lake. We fished some but mostly went swimming in the cool water. We both got a pretty good sunburn. The best fishing in Tennessee was on down near Etowah on the Hiwassee River. That's where my Dad was born and raised. The Hiwassee was full of big catfish, everywhere, and they were great to eat. I still get a glimpse of the river driving up and down I-75. The bridge crosses the river just south of Athens. Beautiful country. Every time I cross, I always think about running the trot lines early in the morning collecting all that catfish. In Kentucky we made a lot of trips over to Cumberland Lake. It was not very crowded back then. There was good fishing at Harrington Lake, too. What a great life that was...

Friday, September 4

Let's have some fun. Here I am sitting in the lobby of the Grand Hotel on Main Street in Hazard in 1952, wondering what the future holds. Your comments on the blog are my connection to 2009. I can only guess what Hazard will be like in the future but I can tell you for sure what's happening now, what is your past.

The sidewalks of Main Street are always busy, people everywhere. I see Lois Patterson who works at Newberry's, Chas Russell, the manager of the A & P Supermarket, and Ishmael Stacy, who runs the Ashland Service Station. On the other side the street is Ralph Reda. Ralph and his wife Rose run the grocery store at the end of the street. Carl Seal, who runs the Seal Motor Company, is talking to his wife, Bonnie. They live on Poplar Street. Carolyn Perkey, the clerk at Stiles Jewelry is standing outside the business, probably going to lunch. Leland H. Stiles is the owner. He and his wife Letitia live on Lyttle Boulevard. Hugh Beeler is the manager of the store. Lavelle Perkins is crossing the street. He is the ticket agent at the Greyhound Bus Station. He lives in Lothair. I see the Steele Drug Store just down the street, no sign of the owners - Eugene and Molly Blount, probably busy inside. Their seven year old son Richard is a handful.

Hazard has its share of grocery stores. Here on Main Street you'll find Bible's Market, Lykins IGA, & Reda's Grocery. On North Main there is Brewers, Bridge Grocery, Brock's Supermarket, Combs Grocery, Gabbard's Grocery, Gayheart's Market, Home Market, Osborne Grocery, and Pence's Super Market. There's the A & P and Bell's Market on East Main. The price of a loaf of bread is 16 cents.

Well that's the perspective from the Grand Hotel. Mildred Rudeen and John Snead are the owners. Mildred says hello to all the future Hazardites and keeps asking what a blog is. By the way, if you are ever in town stop by the Grand Hotel Dining Room for some good eatin'. You'll be greeted by Pauline Beams. Now let's hear from you guys so we can continue this conversation.

Friday, August 28

It was more than a mere structure of wood and iron, the Hardburley coal tipple was a landmark for many decades. Built by rugged men as a rugged monument to a rugged era, it was symbolic of an economy. Across the span of a half century, many fortunes in coal were shaken through its sturdy timbers. At one time it was the largest wooden tipple in the world. Two generations of mining families grew in the coal camp around the gaunt black structure. Men of the hills, men with the strength of the hills, erected the Hardburly tipple, as part of the booming of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky soon after the turn of the century. The men whose muscle hoisted those huge square oak timbers into place have departed the human scene. There are none to replace them. This is a weaker age, in more than physical ways, too.

Now the Hardburley tipple is gone, it burned in 1962. Besides its purpose in moving a vast tonnage of coal, it was a tourist attraction. Thousands of travelers went out of their way to watch the giant apparatus at work.

Harburly was founded by and named for the Hardy Burlington Mining Company.

Tuesday, August 25

You'll meet people from most every state in the Union in Hazard, Kentucky. Not more than 20% of its population are native Hazardites. It is this diversified population which makes Hazard such an interesting and fascinating place to live.

Its people have come to Hazard because it is a good town in which to work and make a living, and a good town to raise a family.

Hazard is located in the very heart of Eastern Kentucky on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, 145 miles southeast of Lexington. It is served by the L & N Railroad and state highway routes 15 and 80. Hazard is just completing a fine small airport for the air minded traveler.

Approximately eight square miles are included within the corporate limits of the city of Hazard. Perry County has a land area of about 1,700 square miles.

Main Street in Hazard is 850 feet above sea level, with some of its residential areas rising to 1,200 feet.

The average temperature is about 60 degrees. Due to the mountains surrounding Hazard, the summers are seldom hot with nights always pleasant. Mosquitoes are almost unknown.

According to recent estimates, Hazard has 7,185 people, Perry County 47,000. The metropolitan trading area includes 100,000 people.

Coal is the chief product in Perry County. There are 23 commercial mines and numerous truck operations. 4,500 men are employed in the commercial mines. 1952

Tuesday, August 18

Three Trails Of Vapor

"I certainly don't say they were flying saucers, but I sure would like to know what they were." That's the way Mrs. John Copeland describes the three objects she saw in the sky over Hazard today about noon. With Mrs. Copeland at the time was Mrs. Paul Petrey, Broadway Street. And also watching from across the street was Mrs. Warren Haden, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Petrey who is visiting here now. Mrs. Copeland says that they noticed three trails of vapor or exhaust or something very very high. The three trails were at different altitudes. They did not remain visible long, as do the vapor trails from normal gasoline piston engine planes flying at high altitudes, nor did they resemble jet plane exhausts, she said. Mrs. Copeland said she had seen jets flying and these trails were not at all similar. Claudine Petrey, who along with her brother Sanders Petrey, is considered the flying saucer authority in Hazard said that she plans to watch each noon for a possible recurrence of the phenonema, recalling that the recent reported sighting of the flying discs at Pikeville was around noon. 1950

Monday, August 17

Girl On The Second Floor

Did you ever characterize people by the looks on their faces? Yes? Well, brother you should be where I am right now.

I'm sitting in the Hazard Herald office, directly across the street from the Mount Mary Hospital. Our big pane windows offer a luscious view that carries us right into a hospital room most any time we care to look up toward the second floor.

The faces that appear at the various windows on that floor are enough to floor a heavyweight champ. Mixed emotions are in evidence most any time of day. Patients glare out the windows and their facial contortions tell a story of anger, fear, sympathy - seeking, pain, satisfaction and just about every other category that a human being's feelings could be placed in.

Right now a lady is staring out the window. Her eyes have been fixed on passerbys for at least twenty minutes. She has her face for support and occasionally cranes her neck to follow some breakneck speedster who splits down High Street too fast. She invariably lets her little finger drift into her mouth and then chews away - as contented as Borden's Cow. She looks as though nothing could make her happy, so we know she isn't a prospective mother. She is sitting in an awkward position, so we know there are no fractured bones.

As a matter of fact, we will probably sit here all day and wonder what's wrong with her. 1948

Sunday, August 16


Thursday – January 25th 1940, just a typical cold day in Hazard. A steady flow of traffic traveled down Main Street. The sidewalks were busy with people. The whittlers were swapping stories at the court house square. It was shortly before noon and many downtown restaurants were getting ready for the lunch time rush.

Miss Ruby Dagly, a clerk at the Kentucky Power Company greeted customers as they entered the business on the first floor of the Masonic Temple. James T. Smallwood of Rockcastle was in the lobby getting warm. Hope Harmon was paying his bill. Jacqueline Bullard, a cashier at the power company gave Mr. Harmon his receipt and change. It was exactly 18 minutes and 44 seconds before noon when the unthinkable happened.

A massive explosion ripped through the building. There was a roar and the cashier's cage tipped inward as the floor disintegrated. Bullard fell into the basement, or at least part way down through the falling floor. "I saw or believe I saw the flooring in the middle of the room flying upward," she said. Bullard crawled up through the broken flooring and out a side window in the alley next to the First Baptist Church. She suffered burns on one ankle, her hair about the face was singed and she ached all over.

People who were in the lobby when the explosion occurred said that the floor heaved upward, and that the roar of the blast seemed to come from all over the building. The second floor buckled in many places. The main stairway from the ground floor was blown to bits and escape from the second story came down an iron fire escape. The third floor occupied by the Masonic Temple buckled upward. Gas, from an unknown source, which permeated the entire basement of the power company office building was apparently ignited by a spark.

22 year old Joe Curtis who had worked for the local office of the power company for the past three years was killed in the explosion. Ruby Dagly received multiple fractures, several crushed ribs and a punctured lung. Hope Harmon had a fracture at the base of his skull. Many others suffered burns.

"I had been standing in the middle of the room by a pillar and saw the man (Harmon) come in and pay his bill," recalled James Smallwood. "I had just decided that I would go out doors, and had turned and started toward the front door when there was a terrible roaring noise and I was thrown against the ceiling. I fell to the floor, or what was left of the floor, partly on some man, I suppose the same man who was paying his bill. The room was choked with fumes and smoke and dust and I could scarcely breathe. I began to crawl toward the place I remembered as the door and finally got outside in the clear air," said Smallwood who had a deep gash on his right cheek, cuts and bruises and a broken ankle.

More than a dozen men were conducting a farm group meeting in the assembly room at the rear of the 2nd floor of the Masonic Building when the blast occurred. 74 year old J.W. Walker of Allais, who was attending the meeting, was thrown upward and in falling suffered a broken pelvis. He said the meeting had dissolved into various small groups for discussion and had just been called into session again by County Agent Allington Crace in order that it might adjourn, when the blast came. They escaped down the rear stairway.

Carter Fields of Busy suffered painful cuts on his left foot when he stopped a large piece of plate glass flying across the street toward him. Fields was in the center of Main Street when the blast came and staggered him. He believed that had he not taken the brunt of the flying glass that it might have more seriously injured the group with him.

The time of the blast had been recorded by a stopped electric clock located in the office of R.L. Gordon, district manager for the company.

Wednesday, August 12

Hazard's business district is occupied by modern retail stores of all types as well as hotels, restaurants, banks, theaters, etc. There are three hotels in the downtown area - the Grand, Hibler and Hurst. A fourth, the Lincoln, is located on North Main Street.

Business development has expanded rapidly in recent years to the East Main and North Main sections, especially due to construction of large, modern garages out of the crowded Main Street area.

Sports and recreation are important in the life of the people of Hazard. In 1951, the people of Hazard and Perry County cooperated to build Memorial Gymnasium, which is one of the outstanding gyms in the state from the standpoint of beauty, seating capacity and facilities.

Hazard is a member of the Class D Mountain States Baseball League. The Bombers won the 1951 season championship and playoffs and was runner-up in the 1950 season.

Bobby Davis Memorial Park and Library is one of the outstanding attractions of the city both from the viewpoint of beauty and usefulness. The pool at the park has been of inestimable value by providing facilities for swimming classes, life saving courses and recreation for both youngsters and adults. The park has two picnic areas which are used in conjunction with the pool for club and family gatherings. 1952

Monday, August 10

Well, Mom got us youngans ready to go to Maces Creek for a weekend visit with my Aunt Emmer. Her real name is Emmaline but Emmer sounds best. She lived on a farm and that was an experience for us “city” kids. I loved Aunt Emmer’s for she had a big water well in her front yard and all we had to do to get a good drink was lower the bucket into the well, bring it back up, and pour a glass full of pure, cold, water. “Be careful, Idy, land sakes, you are going to topple over into the well, and you’d be gone forever…” To say the least I was careful.

Now, here is where my story gets graphic a little for I was about to go to the potty and I knew when coming here I would have to go to the “little house outback”. I wasn’t afraid of the well, but I had unleased fear of the outhouse. Mom would not go with me and I had to set out down the yard all by myself. I thought, “She’s going to let me surely be gone forever…” To get to the outhouse I had to pass an old mother hen and her diddles and I had learned earlier on a visit you don’t rile up a mother hen. I crossed my legs and did a little dance while waiting for the mother hen to take her brood on down in the lower yard. Well, I was lucky for she saw better pickings on down in the yard and shooed her little brood that way.

I opened the door to the outhouse and Aunt Emmer and Uncle Ray kept it nice and clean but no matter how much they worked you could not keep that smell away. So, I proceeded to climb up on the “hole” and got my footing about where it needed to be and I slipped. God was in there I know for I didn’t slide into the muck at the bottom but caught myself on the big iron nail-like thing that held the catalog. WHEW, I was saved by Sears and Roebuck. I hurriedly got my business done and was ready to make my departure. All of a sudden my heart leaped when I heard the “cluck, cluck, cluck” of the mother hen and right away without looking outside I knew she was guarding the outhouse door and was not going to let me out. “I knew it, I knew it, I ain’t never going to get out”. I was not going to fight the mother hen, no sirree bill!!!!

I grabbed hold of one of the catalogs and started thumbing through it in hopes the hen would get tired of guarding the door and let me out. To this day I do not know why they kept catalogs in there cause us little ones could not read, but I looked at the pictures. I could tell by the cracks in the old outhouse that it was getting dusky dark, and my fear was monumental by this time. In the distance I heard Mom holler “Idy, Idy, where in blue blazes are you?” “Idy, we’re going to leave without you and if you are playing in the creek, you had better run here right now.” Oh, what was I to do, I hollered with all my might, “come and get me, come and get me, the old hen has got me holed up in the outhouse…” Well, I started to cry for I knew that I would sleep on this one-holer for the night. I let out with a scream and a holler that would run a saint out of a thicket, and Mom heard me. When she got the door open, and reached for me, I fell into her arms, and she was trying to soothe me the best she could, and she did because that is what mothers do, they soothe the brow of a child in pain, and I was in pain, scared pain from the fear of that old hen, and as Mom carried me up the little path back to the house, I heard that old hen clucking louder than ever, and I always will say she was laughing at me.

To this day I have never eaten a piece of chicken, a piece of turkey or anything that flies or plays around in a farm yard.

Thursday, August 6

A few days ago a man came in and said, "I would like to get a job." I asked him how old he was. He said he was 92. It was none other than White Jim Combs. I said, "Jim, what are you wanting a job for at your age?" He stated he was so tired of hearing fellows like Roy Baker, Charlie Robinson, Jim Cole and all the others that are on the retired and whittling list bragging about getting their Social Security check every month. Jim, I would say since you have made it this far, also raised a large family as you did, I believe you could out-brag a lot of those whittlers. During the cold weather many of the old timers don't sit on the court house wall but instead sit near the ashes of their fireplace waiting for warm weather. Not Jim and a few others I know. They make the best of a spell of cold weather better than a lot I know. Course you can sit down and give up, but it is good to know that we still have old people that have ambitions to move ahead. 1962

Wednesday, August 5

Back in the 1920s - Charlie Johnson nearly lost his life in a mine accident. Although he became a paraplegic he didn't let that stop him from making a living and contributing to the local community. In November 1929 - Charlie started driving a taxi and ended up owning a gas station and car repair shop. In 1943 - he started Johnson's Tire Service and became the Goodyear Tire distributor in Perry County. In 1947 he moved the buisiness into a one story building across from Faulkner's Garage on East Main Street. He continued to live in Hardburley until he added an apartment over his business. He added a recap plant to the firm in the late '40s. When Harry Caudill published his book, "Night Comes to the Cumberlands," he mentioned Charlie Johnson's success. "One disabled miner, who purchased a strategically situated service station in 1939, sold $50,000,00 worth of truck tires in 1947," he wrote. The coal trucks were one of his long term customers. Charlie had a keen mind for business and his tire store and recap plant kept his customers happy. The residents of Hazard knew they could count on him to provide a quality service and product.

Charlie Johnson died in January 1965 of a heart attack. His daughter, Virginia, conducted business at Johnson's Tire Service until 1968. Click on the image for a closer look.

Tuesday, August 4


Summer fun is in the air, it’s 1949, and as far as Big Bottom goes, all is well. I woke up this morning wondering just what us kids on Liberty Street could get into. Most of us were sleeping late but soon the coffee was biling (boiling), smoke was rising from the chimneys up and down the holler, and it was time to PLAY.

I thought to myself, “I know what I am going to do and if the rest want to join in they can, but if not, oh well.”

Gotta look around behind the Bakery, the Double Cola Plant, and through the alley to see if any cardboard boxes were set out during the night. I glanced down through Maple Street to see if by chance Gene Baker’s boys had set out anything, but saw nothing. I went behind the Bakery and lo and behold there was the box of my dreams. “Gotta have this one, it’ll be perfect!”

Here I go dragging that big cardboard box through the alley and over to 109 Liberty Street. Iona Baugh was watching from her kitchen wondering what in the world Idy was up to so early in the morning. Pretty soon she would know.

With all the pains in the world, making sure I didn’t tear it needlessly, I sat out to make me a cardboard slide. Now, if’n you ain’t never had a cardboard slide, you missed a whole lot of fun, fun, fun. I got it fixed just right, and up Liberty Street I took. I sure was proud of myself, hee hee hee. I was going to be the envy of them all today for I had the biggest box I could find and by ransacking I knew there wasn’t much left to choose from.

Now, Liberty Street had some hills and the one that we used the most sat right across from Goble McDaniel’s house and standing looking from the telephone pole up, your eyes were right in the back yard of Pat Moran. I started the climb up the hill dragging my prize cardboard box, and I found the grassiest place on the little hill. I took my cardboard box, sat down on it, and lifted part of it upwards, placing my feet carefully so as not to drag; I was ready now to take the hill. I guess you might call this “card boarding” and I gave myself a big shove and down the hill I went, whooping and a-hollering, and the grass was wet from the dew that fell in the early morning and I had the ride of my life, making sure that my ride didn’t end straddling that telephone pole. It didn’t and I rolled off my “cardboard slide”, give the hill another glance, thought about it, and off I took back up that hill with all the gusto I could muster. By that time I got company and they each had their cardboards. By the time we got ready to quit that poor hillside was bare, not a blade of grass could be seen.

Such a simple life in the 40’s and 50’s. I wonder if someday in the future if there will be “card boarding” or maybe they will find a new name for it, reckon????

Monday, August 3

I noticed around town the hurry and bustle of mothers trying to get their kids ready for school. Yes it was quite different when we went to school on opening day. We just put on our Brogans, clean pair of overalls and way we went. 1959

Tuesday, July 28

L & N don't stop here anymore

When I was a curly headed baby, my daddy sat me down on his knee. He said, "Go to school and learn your letters, don't you be a dirty coal miner like me."

I was born and raised in the mouth of a Hazard Hollar, Coal cars rumbled past my door. Now they're standin' in a rusty row all empties, and the L & N don't stop here anymore.

I used to think my daddy was a black man, with script enough to buy the company store. Now he goes town with empty pockets, and his face is white as a February snow.

Well I'd never thought I'd learn to love the coal dust, Never thought I'd pray to hear that whistle roar. Oh God, I wish the grass would turn to money, and those greenbacks fill my pockets up once more.

Last night I dreamed I went down to the coal yard, to draw my pay like I'd done before. Them kudzu vines are covering all the windows, there were leaves and grass growin' right up through the floor.

Monday, July 27

According to the old timers when the Katydids and jar flies start their mournful sounds about this time of year, you can expect an early fall. Regardless it will be early enough providing you haven’t made preparations for your coal or wood for the coming winter. The old timers tell me that when these sounds appear it is high time for all to get busy in regard to making ready for the coming winter.

You fellows that are sitting on the court house square whittling on those cedar poles that you carry in your hip pocket, I dare say that those cedar shavings will carry you through a long winter. I had about forgotten that we are living in a modern age and most of you either have a gas or electric furnace to take care of your needs. 1959

Friday, July 24

Hard Tail Or Horse

Elihu Reynolds use to run a Country Store at Buckhorn, Ky., when I was a student at Witherspoon College in Buckhorn. Those are days that will never come back to the generation of this date. I can recall buying candy at Elihu's place. He also had the Post Office where we looked forward to our mail. I only wish that I had taken the time to have gotten a picture of Elihu's place those many years ago. Those were the days when you couldn't get a car near Buckhorn. The only transportation was by a hard tail or a horse. A hard tail was a fine farm mule, which there were many in that day.

I can recall the days as a teenager when I used to attend a party now and then in Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Rose's home. I was somewhat of the stand off type kid about dancing. The Rose's daughter, Elizabeth "Diz" Cloyd, did her best to teach me how. 1969

Thursday, July 23

Ornery Place To Live

Not too long ago, a young fellow came into the store. He was asking some questions about Appalachia. I am sure he was a college student. He asked me if there was any wit among the people of our region. Folks, you couldn't hem in the wit our people had with a ten foot pole plus a dozen Mother Hubbard dresses. One I recall very well, as I told this fellow, our people were always accused of being the most persistent Moonshiners of all time. Regardless of that or not, I will say that wit did them a lot of good. I can recall a certain instance that the revenuers had concentrated on one old couple that were surprised to have been engaged in this illicit affair. You know they could tell the different hoof beats of any strange horse or mule that ventured up this creek. On this particular day there were different hoof beats coming up the creek. It really took some fast thinking. Maybe they were guilty, the old lady ran out into the yard, squatted as if she was trying to relieve herself as the revenuer's rode up. She jumped up and said, "it is getting to be an ornery place to live when a woman can't get any privacy at her own home." As I am told, the revenuer's turned their horses and rode off without making any investigation regarding the old man's habits of which he had been accused. 1969

Wednesday, July 22

Folks, that old saying Time Flies has lived up to its name the past few months. We have seen many changes happen during the past year. Sputniks, missiles, everybody trying to get to the moon and various other incidents will linger in our minds for years to come.

On the court house square, you can see what a little sunshine will do for the old time traders and swappers. Noticed last Saturday the shavings were almost ankle deep. Passed Charlie Robinson and he didn’t hardly look up, believe me - he was whittling up a storm, hesitated Roy Baker was having a birthday soon, he was worse than a hen on a hot rock , trying to trade a man out of his watch, he says Roy won’t be outdone. Later I found out this was true, they traded even. 1959

Tuesday, July 21

Meet Your Friends

Lee Ann Pratt cooked my food and Mildred Grigsby set it before me while Zeda Fouts swiped around on the counter and kept track of things while I sat mostly at the counter at Don's Restaurant in Hazard. Mommy had a charge account there, as well as every other place in town. I walked down from Hazard High on Baker Hill every school day at 12 sharp and I'm here to tell you, you really had to shuffle your feet to get a seat. Oh my; a hot dog with the wiener split and fried on the grill, on a toasted hamburger bun, smothered with homemade chili, fine chopped onions, a little mustard, with a big glass of ice and coke. Mildred, one of the prettiest girls in the world, watched for you to finish so she could whisk away your empty plate and bring your homemade pie, butterscotch, chocolate, pecan, coconut cream, you name it, Zeta had it under big glass domes, and was most generous in her slabs. Don Fouts was always somewhere around, supervising, I guess, but I thought Mrs. Fouts was the heart of Don's. My meal came to a quarter a day. At the rear was THE PLACE where the elite had lunches, little bowls of red sauce with shrimp hanging over the lip of the bowl, and you had to be affiliated with a club or something to dine there. Big ceiling fans kept the air circulating, and every body who was anybody ate at Dons.

Monday, July 20

I had always wanted to be a radio announcer since I was a small child growing up in the Blue Diamond coal camp. When I was eight or nine years of age my older brother, Quentin, and I played radio. We would make up a program log, use our 78 rpm record player, read news from the newspaper and use a tin can tied to a stick for a microphone. We would spend several hours a day playing radio. After Quentin graduated from high school and joined the Air Force I continued playing radio although now I called it "practicing." When my mother died of cancer I was only 14 years old and I went to live with my grandmother on Brown's Fork. My ambition was to be a radio announcer. I enrolled in speech classes at M.C. Napier High School and Mrs. Ruby Allen, who taught at Napier at that time, worked with me several minutes a day. I heard about the "Pepsi Party" program on WKIC and I got on the program as a guest disc jockey. Harry Minnich, who was doing the program, mentioned that the following fall he would be going to college at Eastern in Richmond. The wheels started clicking in my head and I decided I wanted to be the replacement for Harry. I talked to the general manager, Ernest Sparkman, about the job. He was not too encouraging but took my name and address and said he would contact me about an audition. I was now 16 years old and was determined. Each afternoon I would hitch-hike from Napier to Hazard to hang around WKIC to talk to Harry. Finally in May of 1958 after about three months of making a nuisance of myself, Ernest noticed me hanging around and decided to give me an audition. Harry found some copy, a Pet Milk promotional, to read. Ernest told him to wait for about 15 minutes until he got home and then put me on the air. I read the promotional 15 minutes later and Ernest called Harry and wanted to talk to me. He asked me if I would come in on Sunday and just read promotionals in between the recorded programs. I said sure. He also set up an appointment to talk with me after school on Monday. I read the promotionals on Sunday and was right on time for my appointment on Monday after school. Ernest had been delayed and was not there and there was a serious problem at the station. Harry Minnich was practicing graduation at Hazard High School and had failed to mention he would be late for work. Pete Pickins was on the air and his wife was sick in the hospital. Pete was fuming and said he was going to the hospital regardless. There was no one to go on the air. Norma Strong had heard me reading the promotionals the day before and asked me if I would go on the air. I said I didn't know how to run the radio controls. She said, "you get in the small studio and do the announcing and I'll get Yancey Bowling, our Chief Engineer, to run the controls for you. I made my debut in that fashion that afternoon. An hour or so later Ernest Sparkman came in, told me he had been listening to me on the car radio, and then asked me to fill out the time sheet and employment forms with Renee Elam, the bookkeeper. The next day Ernest gave me half of Harry Minnich's shift and I fully replaced him when he left for college that fall.

Sunday, July 19

The Shamrock Restaurant was owned by Biram Caudill. It was located in a block of buildings constructed in 1958. Before they were built, one of the old houses that was there was called the "Hole-in-the-Wall" and my half-sister was scared to death of one of the ladies living there as she would come out as we headed up the hill to school and take a broom and run us off, cussing and ranting.

My half-sister took tap dancing lessons in a place called "Ryman Gardens.” That was in the early '40's. Visualize with me the old Hurst-Snyder Hospital and walking down toward Mt. Mary Hospital, you will come to what was back then an entrance to a building that fronted on Main Street with a small parking lot. That is where my sister, Anna, took her tapping lessons. Later on it was home to the Leach family and then I think the USO might have had something in there. It could have been one of Hazard's first "rec centers".

The rec center where I spent a lot of time was over what was then Engle's Flower Shop and later Dawahare's. There were steep steps leading up to the floor above the stores and it was also used for Lodge Meetings. Boy, did we ever dance till we dropped. No trouble, no drinking, smoking, carousing that I can remember, just good clean fun. I guess that is one reason we remember them as "good ole days", huh.

Saturday, July 18

Horsefly On A Mule

At 9 o’clock I reached the Log College at Buckhorn and it is beautiful. We had to climb a mountain called Bunker Hill, which was the worst I ever saw. The college sets on a mountain brow, opposite the church on Laurel Point, with a lovely valley between. Mr. and Mrs. Murdoch, with Mrs. Gordon live nearby, and Dr. and Mrs. Saunders occupy a room in the college. I wish you could see those Highland boys and girls. They come jumping out of the bushes and crowd the chapel and sing for all they are worth.

Papa preached every morning at 8 0’clock in the college chapel and at night in the church. You never saw such a path up the mountain to the church, before they made a new one. It was like climbing a tree. But they all got there and crowded the church. Would you believe it, I found a little namesake of yours up here at Mr. Jack Gross’ between two big mountains. They call her Annie Guerrant and all say she looks like you. Of course, she is a beauty. I stopped to see a woman who weaves blankets on a big loom in the front porch. It was a curiosity. The men were building the new girl’s dormitory out of great hemlock logs, all saved square. It will be beautiful. This is the only college in this big country, and the people are very proud of it. One day four hundred crowded into the chapel to hear the exercises. Well, we started home at 6 0’clock in the morning on two mules. You ought to have seen me. I know I looked like a horsefly on that big mule, but I stuck to him, and he brought me through all right. 1896

Friday, July 17

The "Popcorn Stand" was attached to the Major Store building in the alley between Major's and Sterling Hardware. It was owned by Francis Blevins, stepfather of Lettie Craft Steel. "Gramp", as he was called, worked for Home Lumber Company but was often at the stand. A woman named Ada Dison worked there along with a small crippled man, Amos "Red" Barker. The stand was a joy to the young but a nuisance to the teamsters, like the Sterling Hardware Company whose vehicles often scraped the building walls, doing damage. One day, the boxes behind the stand caught on fire and Gwyn Hayden, of Sterling, put it out. A. M. Durbin stood by and said, "Gwyn, you didn't give it a fair chance."

Thursday, July 16

Hazard's Petrified Forest

Sometime between God's geological third day of creation (Genesis 1:9 -13) and the early "hours" of the sixth day (Genesis 1:24) 300 million years ago - - long long before the arrival of mankind or beings such as Adam, Noah, Abraham or David, a great forest grew literally within a stone's throw of Hazard, Kentucky, now nestled in the ever-winding steep slopes of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Pre-historic creeping animals moved about this woodland; and the continents of the world had not separated at this time. Then the land in this area was level at a height hundreds of feet below the present hilltops. Various kinds of trees, small and large grew here much like our forests today. But suddenly, something happened about 300 million earth solar obits ago. Some catastrophic upheaval rolled a great body of water over this forest. Most of the forest was broken, crushed, and obliterated, losing its identity as eternity continued to roll.

One section, at least of this original forest, remained intact except to have many of its upper parts stripped. The roots, trunks, and some limbs up as high as ten feet stayed in place long enough to harden into rock. As these trees stood upright immersed in this sea, the wood inside the bark began decaying. As sediment in the water began to slowly drop down, it gradually replaced the decayed wood fibers, thus minerals finally crystallized into rock. The outside bark on the trees, being of a tougher chemical composition lasted long enough to fossilize into coal.

In this way, the remains of the wood forest became a petrified forest, retaining its shape as sediment continued to fall around the trees, eventually forming a sea of mud that in time became strata or a layer of shale at the bottom of an ancient sea. Layer upon layer of various muds continued to pack down while stresses and strains of up warpings and down warpings of various areas of the earth were in motion in different places over the planet.

After millions and millions of years, possible shifting of the crust of the earth around its liquid core or new tilting of the earth's axis itself, volcanic eruptions, etc., caused ever changing conditions with each age laying down its own "mud" which hardened into strata. This strats eventually extended upward above where the tops of the Hazard hills now are. By this time the sea had receded, but more recently earthquakes and upheavals had created uneven terrain and cracks which became wider and deeper with each rainfall. So the rain finally cut out the valleys and left the hilltops. Proof of this can easily be found by observing the pattern of the formation and layering of minerals (coal, sandstone, limestone, etc.,) from a cut on the mountain and then going across the valley and making a similar cut at the same elevation. The pattern will be so nearly identical that you will look across the valley and know that the hills were once connected.

But back to the forest. How do we know the forest stands there waiting to be excavated? Well - a lot of us saw this forest several years ago when a cut in the mountain was made for Highway 15 (an extension of the Mountain Parkway) between the Walkertown section of Hazard and Combs, KY.

Mr. Willard Logan, then the construction foreman, noticed strange looking rocks coming from a level near the top of the present roadbed. Machinery had already pretty well mutilated them where the last grading had been done. Fossils were good enough, however geological souvenir hunters who came to Hazard from the University of Kentucky and sped away with car loads of broken parts of trees. Mr. Logan called upon me and drove me down to the "cut through" of the mountain when the road was completed.

"Here, Mr. Petrey, is a fossil they overlooked," he said as he took a hand ax out of his truck, struck the shale from around the petrified stump (machinery had previously cut the top of the tree off), and finally sliced it off above the roots and handed it to me. After washing it carefully. I sprayed it with three coats of varnish. It has withstood handling as it has been sitting on public display in Don's Restaurant in Hazard since 1969.

Mr. Logan and I stood on the highway in that cut and gazed steadily toward both mountainsides of the road. Then we began to see outlines of the fossilized trees of various sizes and different kinds of bark that happened to be partially exposed near the surface of both sides of the highway. They seemed to have sprung from a common level. We were standing in the midst of a 300 million year old forest.

"Sanders," said Willard, "I'm sure this forest extends right on into the mountain on both sides of this highway." Souvenir hunters, erosion and filling in of soil have erased all present evidence of the edges of the forest. But back in that mountain, untold numbers of trees of many different types and sizes are preserved, packed in shale, awaiting discovery.

Willard Logan, now doing construction on the Daniel Boone Parkway, and just recently promoted to Superintendent, tells me from his many years of experience, "I've seen all sorts of fossils - but I've never seen anything like this!" "Don't you think," I asked, that extensive coal tunneling has probably removed the other parts of the forest in the mountain?"

"No," he answered, "the coal is on another level entirely. It wouldn't be hard to excavate around those trees, knock the shale from around them and leave them standing. And we could coat them with some type of protective covering, preserving the different colors, resod the old forest floor, and show what it was like 300 million years ago!"

The Petrified Forest of Arizona consist of logs which washed down out of a canyon and petrified in a lying down position. The Fossilized Forrest of Hazard, though much less extensive, and small timber, is erect and intact and the trees are spaced as they were 100 million years ago awaiting excavation.

How many prehistoric creatures will be found trapped in the same fossilization?

Wednesday, July 15

One Of The Oldtimers Is Missing

Missing is a familiar figure up and down Main Street, Hazard and the courthouse square on this July 15th. Folks, our mutual friend White Jim Combs, age 93, passed away last night around 11:00 PM.

Things didn't look the same on the square, no noise or trading was going on. One of the old timers was missing. The rest of you were to me paying homage to him by your usual gathering on a Monday morning after a day of solitude at home. He went quickly without much suffering. White Jim was a mountain man that came up the hard way in the backwoods section of Eastern Kentucky, a long life had enabled him to see much progress here. He has seen with his eyes the hardships of pioneer days. It is too bad that we can never get a full story on a man's life such as Jim's. Many times he and I had talked it over, he would always say, "some day son when you have plenty of time we'll talk." He was a great character within himself, a man to be admired in regard to his philosophy of life.

The ranks are gradually getting thinner each day as the good man above is collecting his toll of our first people which you might say were the stepping stones of progress that we are treading on today. It is remarkable that a man of his age could still look forward to more progress, a man that wasn't bitter toward anyone, a man despite his age could still stand to hear the patter of little feat and cry of little children. The familiar tapping of his cane is going to be missed as he made his daily rounds.

May I say to you, all his friends, Jim's road now is at an end. Many more of us will soon have to travel over the same route, there is no turning back on this one. I am proud to have known White Jim Combs, and his many principals of what he stood for.

Yes there is a missing figure on the courthouse square today but I am sure the ones who have been so closely associated with Jim are not missing him in their minds. July 15th 1963

Tuesday, July 14

From Lower Broadway To Broadway

It was a busy day in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Court was going on and Grace was upstairs, people were coming and going, getting license renewed, checking on this and that and this couple walked through the door and walked up to the desk. I asked them if there was anything I could do for them. The lady answered me, "Yes, we need to find a document that I am pretty sure will be of record here in your office."

I listened to her as she told me that her daughter attended second grade at Lower Broadway and then sometime later they moved away. It has been so long ago I am not sure what the document was, but I am thinking it was a change of name document. I asked her the time frame and the names we would be looking for on the Index Book. She gave me the information I needed to start my search for the document she needed.

As I was searching she talked with me about her daughter Cora Marie. I listened to her and continued turning the pages. I did not have a hard time finding this document at all for she did a good job giving me the proper information.

I said, "Here, is this the document you are needing?" She looked at the document and pointed to the name, "Cora Marie Frye". "Yes, this is exactly what I needed, can you make me a copy to take with me?" I told her I could do that and now I wish I had taken the time to at least read over the document I had found for she continued. "Does that name mean anything to you?" I told her that I did not know the name and really had never heard of the name Frye before and that I had lived in Hazard all of my life.

She laughed as she said, "Oh, you won't know her by Cora Marie Frye, but I bet you will know her by "MARIE McDONALD". She then related to me some of the history of this famous movie star since she attended the second grade in Hazard. She had really made a name for herself, growing up and becoming "THE BODY". They dubbed her that in all the movie magazines that I had read along the way. Cora Marie Frye had moved on from our sleepy little town of Hazard to made it big. She paid for the copy of the document and she and her husband left Grace's Office, and long after she had gone I wish I had asked her questions but as I said at the beginning we were very busy that day. I have always wished I had read the document but try as I may I cannot come up with the date of the document to try to find it again, but it lies hidden in one of the big books there in Grace's Office, a piece of a famous movie star.

I will say that not too long ago I got curious after talking with Shane about this little incident and "googled Marie McDonald" and caught up on her history and her death. She went a long way from Lower Broadway to Broadway, and I wonder if somewhere in the archives there might be a picture of the second grade whereby she stands with all the rest of her classmates.

Monday, July 13

When we were little Mom would give us a spoonful of some foul tasting concoction that she swore by to cure all. It was given to us in the Spring and then in the Fall. To this day, I do not know what was in it but we screamed and kicked and then she would hold our noses until we swallowed it. I still swear that it contained turpentine...hee hee hee. Granny would laugh at us and tell us that when she was a child that every year when Spring rolled around her mother would get busy in the kitchen, humming along as she stirred and prepared her "brew" to make sure her children would receive the best medicine she could possibly make out of the herbs she had carefully chosen for their medicinal value. She proudly called it her "Spring Tonic". Granny said they were seated in a row at the table and here would come their Mother with a bowl and a spoon and she would counsel each of them, "Open up, drink fast, don't spit it out,good for you, youngans, good for you." She said they were not jumping for joy at the "potion" Mom as holding in the bowl and they all sat there grimacing at what they were about to consume.She said, "I reckon she knew what she was doing cause here I sit 92 years old telling you about her "spring tonic". I can't say what Ruby is putting in her "potion" but my mother would take sulphur and mix it thoroughly with molasses, put it in a bowl, take a big spoon and when it came our turn we knew better than turn our heads away. After the last youngan swallowed his or her spoonful, she would pat us all lovingly and say, "Good youngans, good fer you, and that is all now until next Spring, now run along and play." We couldn't wait to run around behind the house where the peppermint was growing and cram a few leaves of that beautiful plant into our mouths which would rid us of the bad taste of that "spring tonic".

Sunday, July 12

Playground of the Mountains

If you haven't traveled across the newly blacktopped Town Mountain Road, then by all means do so. It's a real treat to drive over a curving, mountainous road that is smooth as silk and wide enough for comfortable safe travel. That's the way you'll find Town Mountain just now after you cross the railroad tracks and small creek bridge near the depot. The going is a bit rough at that particular spot but the city is making plans to try and remedy the situation. The low load limit bridges at either access to the road will be prohibitive to heavy haulers if State Police enforce load limits and that should keep the blacktop in good condition for years to come. It represents five miles of distance saved for traffic into or out of Hazard via Kentucky 80. The junction with KY 80 would provide an excellent spot for a "Save 5 Miles This Way To Hazard - Shopping Center of Eastern Kentucky" sign courtesy of Hazard Merchants. The road affords some of the most spectacular views in the mountains and has unlimited possibilities for development of roadside parks, motels or drive-in restaurants. It could easily be developed into the playground of the mountains. 1961