Monday, March 9

After the 1939 flood was all over, we started moving stuff back into our family business, Reda's Grocery, which is located at the end of Main Street in Hazard. My sister and I were lying across the bed in our parents' bedroom and a great big rat jumped across the bed! Our wooden floors are warped in some rooms and the mud is a real mess. Before the water got high enough to enter the building, my brother and his friend, Sidney Jett, shot at rats floating on pieces of wood from our kitchen window. The people on the rooftop of our store in the photo are from Ma Duke's Boarding House. Her building adjoins ours and they can easily step from their back porch onto our roof. One of the people on the roof is Sophronia (Fronie) Horn, Ma Duke's daughter. During the flood we stayed in a room at the Central Hotel. One could go on the Main Street bridge and see the rushing water carrying all kinds of debris.

Reda's Grocery is part beer joint and part meeting place for the coalminers and their friends. Although it is unusual for the races to mix, my parents (born in Italy) do not discriminate. Once when I was a young teenager alone in the store, a local police officer (his first name was Joe) came in and told me that we could not "serve colored." I told him that he would have to speak to my father. A few days later Ernest Faulkner, the City Attorney, came to the store for a beer, which he does quite often, and I told him about the police officer. Mr. Faulkner's reply was "Don't worry about him." That was the end of that.

As one first enters the store, you'll see an ice cream cooler. There's a candy counter, and a long counter where people drink their beer and/or soda pop, eat a sandwich and commiserate. Then there is the refrigerated case where we keep the meats, lunch meats, beer, milk, soda pop, cheeses, etc. This is in the middle of the store. Going on around to the left are the grocery shelves with all sorts of canned goods, sugar, coffee, beans, household items such as bathroom tissue, also snuff and tobacco products, cigars, etc. When you look through the front windows of the store, you can see the fruits, green beans, lettuce, cabbage, apples, bananas, and oranges. We also sell kerosene and carbide for the miner's lamps. We have a pot-belly stove in the middle of the store and a revolving fan from the ceiling.

We have an account with the Powell-Hackney Company located across the Main Street bridge. I think it is the son of one of the owners who is the salesman for Powell-Hackney. We buy our meat products through Asher McGuire and Leo Graef. The McGuire family live in Big Bottom and the Graef lives on Baker Hill. Then there is the soft drink and beer vendors. We buy Hudepohl brand beer from a woman salesperson who cries if Dad doesn't order. (So weird). We carry many brands of beer, including Red Top, Miller, Bruck's, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Weidemann and Bay Horse. We also have Red Top and Bay Horse Ale. Our soft drinks include the Nehi flavors of strawberry, and lemon lime, and we have Coca-Cola, Double Cola, R. C. Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Barq's root beer, lemonette, grapette, and limette. We've only had one fight in the store. It happened on a Saturday night. A man tried to cut his wife with a razor and she jumped behind our counter, so he only nicked her a bit on the neck. A week or so later, while he was in the shower at their home in Bluegrass Holler, she shot him dead.


  1. Carlene ShackelfordMarch 9, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    I lived over the Coca Cola plant when I was a baby. I am told our Mother used to take my sister, Jean, and me to Reda's Grocery about every day. I enjoyed the blog so much. Billie has a wonderful memory. I do not remember the 39 flood, but i remember all the ones that came after it. Thanks to Billie for this blog.

  2. Thanks for your memories, Billie and reminding me of some I had nearly forgotten. Since Carlene introduced me to this web-site, I visit often and appreciate your blog.

  3. Jerome (Joe) BakerMarch 17, 2009 at 2:03 AM

    I was only 4 but I remember the '39 flood. I believe it was the top of Eversole Hill that we drove to to view the water over Main Street. Later, my parents and grandparents and I drove up to Vicco/Sassafras after the water went down. I saw a store building that had washed a few feet onto the street and traffic had to drive around it. There was mud, of course, everywhere.
    People were in the street everywhere, just looking, like we were doing.