Sunday, May 31
"I'm home, had a good day at school, smell supper, and it's time for "The Shadow". "See, Granny, hear the screaking door, don't talk now, just listen and we'll watch The Shadow, fill your pipe now and don't talk to me, okay, I am ready to take on Cranston." "Idy, you would sot thar til night fall watching that radio and the scary sounds don't seem to bother you a-tall."
"Shet that thang off and let me tell you some tales that is worth sumpthin'. Unwind your legs now a-fore they fall off." "Shhh, Granny, he's on the prowl now, and then I gotta watch more one or two more, maybe, Amos & Andy, Duffy's Tavern, Fibber McGee and Molly, George Burns and Gracie Allen; I'll take my supper right here in the floor if'n you don't mind, Auntie."
"Bless your soul, child, what are we going to do with you?" "I suppose it won't hurt you none for it hasn't yet." "Stand up now and agin so's your legs won't lose their strength and you'll fall flat once your watching that radio is over the evening."
"Well, here is Jimmy Davis singing, "Come Home It's Supper Time. I reckon I need to pick up the books now, clear my head of the fantasies I dreamed up, and get down to studying." "After all, tomorrow's a new day and more chapters to watch, more mysteries to untangle, and more dreams to ponder." "Granny, come tell me a tale."
We would turn on the radio, and group up and sit and "watch" it. We did not just listen to our radio but every voice we heard we put a face with that voice and myself I had a special place where I would sit Indian style as near the speaker as I could get. I would sit for hours, especially when certain programs were on in the evening after school. In fact, I can remember, "where is Idy?" The answer sounded, "She's watching the radio". That seemed to be what we were doing, listening and watching even before shapes took place in front of us. "Supper's ready, Idy, the radio will be right there when you finish, it will go nowhere, believe me."
Saturday, May 30
A story was published in the Knoxville Journal. A man was standing on the court house steps repeatedly popping a black snake whip. The reporter said, “Excuse me sir, why are you doing this?” He replied, “Stranger, if you will watch that mud hole you will see a fine span of mules appear in a few minutes.”
Hardesty’s was a women’s clothing store that was located in the building that would later be home to Watsons next to Taxi Alley. At one time it was Lykins IGA. Hardesty’s was truly a fashion store for both ladies and gentlemen. “Pete” Hardesty was semi-blonde, well-dressed, well-poised and well-liked. He was also a good businessman. Mrs. Hardesty was an attractive brunette who was a good buyer and a vivacious person. Her windows and display showed her artistic ability. Mrs. Hardesty’s mother, Mrs. Harp, helped in the store and was a gracious person. Sarah Ware, sister of former Hazard Fire Chief Justin Ware, was a clerk there. Mrs. Sally Cantor was the alteration lady. Percy Lane was Pete’s helper in the men’s side and later Gertrude Ihrig was employed at Hardesty’s. High prices now? Mrs. Hardesty sold plenty of street dresses at $124 and hand made hats were $35. A prominent Hazard lady still has her buttons from her blue wool going-away dress purchased there.
Above Hardesty’s was the Kismet Tea Room, along with the offices of Dr. R.L. Collins, Dr. Green Cook and Dr. J. D. Grant. Dr. Grant’s wife had a large shepherd dog that went everywhere she did and was very friendly. She was the sister of the funny movie star and Broadway actor, Edward Everett Horton, who once visited Hazard.
Listen to the subject of our story, Mrs. P. L. Johnson (Bess) as she recited a poem by James Whitcomb Riley during the WSGS Radio Day a few years ago. Click here to listen ...Let us know if you listened to the audio. Post your comments below.
Friday, May 29
We did not have a vehicle so we walked or stayed at home. Now, when the carnival was in town, my Dad would gather us all up and we had two choices, to head up the highway leading past the water plant, past the Dipsy Doodle, the power company property and then onto the carnival grounds; or cross over the Woodland Park Bridge, go into the deep, dark cavern which we called "the Tunnel", the train tracks were tricky in the dark and the water dripping from the top of the tunnel made it even eerier. Dad had the flashlight and we all held hands and stayed as close to one another as possible. It wasn't that long of a trek but to us youngans it seemed like eternity before we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and we would find ourselves on the bridge leading across the river and then to the carnival grounds.
Most of the time we chose the tunnel because we didn't have to bother with the cars on the highway. We couldn't wait to get our sandals full of sawdust, walk around the midway first just to see what was there, what was added from the year before, and really to check out the boys working running the rides. Some were dudes and then some were toothless and looked to be forty when in real they were a little past the teen years and just dirty.
The rides were awesome; the swings were fun to ride because they would swing out over the crowds watching below and we would holler and whoop like we were scared stiff when we were just having the time of our lives. When we rode the ferris wheel, we could look out over Lothair and be able to see the crowds coming and going, and sometimes used it for "spotting", our word for looking for a feller. I couldn't do the feller thing cause Daddy was always lurking somewhere making sure I stayed in line. His main thing was to toss coins in dishes and we would come home loaded with carnival glass which today is a treasure. I had more cupie dolls and the little celluloid ones with the feathers were my favorite. I had them all over the bedroom. Just wish I had kept one!!!
Daddy would line us all up and we would go through the "Crazy House" screaming and shrieking all the way through; there were so many games to play to win little trinkets and such and the "hawkers" sure had their way of getting your attention when you passed by their booth. "Idy, come on now, you don't need that trash, you've spent enough money on junk." Whew!!! how I hated to hear those words cause I knew it was almost time to call it a night and head back to Big Bottom. We rode the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Swings and the Ferris Wheel but I never ventured to try any of the others, like the Air-0-plane that turned you upside down, Gosh!!!
Now, before I close this memory out I have to tell about shaking Daddy long enough to watch the girlie shows and wondered what it would be like to go inside one of the tents. My worst memory of my carnival days I have to tell here is when I was co-erced into trying to slip in one of the tents that was for adults only, and the word around the grounds was that it showed one's anatomy up close and personal. I was almost a teen then and I figured if I can slip in I will. A friend and myself decided it was time to see what was going on inside that tent that caused such a stir and the lines were long. We had watched the young boys slipping in under the tents around the carnival for years so I thought if they can, I can. I was such a tom boy, but I found my chance and under the tent I slid. I found inside a partition where men were on one side and women on the other, but saw nothing...YET!!! Then the show started and I was about to see what all the commotion was about when I felt a big hand on my shoulder and I turned around and there was Daddy, no smile on his face, but chagrin really, he yanked me up and dragged me out of that tent so fast it made my head swim. I won't go into the punishment for that little idea I had but it turned out the kid I had with me, turned me into Dad, and died laughing the rest of our lives. I not only had sawdust in my sandals but in my shorts as well. I almost seen what I didn't see...hee hee hee. Years later I found out what I missed, and I can say I am glad I did.
Time to start back to Big Bottom, shaking the sawdust and laughing as we headed down the highway (the way we went back) and we stepped to the music from the merry-go-round almost all the way home. A good time was had by all. Another night at the carnival? Maybe, if'n I was good.
Thursday, May 28
I loved downtown and I knew where all the good places were. Weekday nights and Saturdays I had a regular route I would run. The cops knew my dad and they never bothered me even in the pool room. In fact, by the time I was fourteen, if the cops saw me somewhere they would tell me my dad was in the pool room too drunk to drive knowing I would go get him and drive him home myself, and they wouldn't have to pick him up. We also ate at the Hazard Lunch. My dad favored the steaks there for a dollar. I remember the old guy had the original Budweiser painting on the wall of the Custer Massacre. Used to study that closely ever visit. Used to get great milkshakes in Fouts Drug for a quarter along with a package of two cookies. I knew the girls in there and they would make sure mine were nice and thick. My uncle, Sam Burke was the manager there for a while when he returned from WWII. I ate many good lunches at Ma Combs restaurant down by the bridge and also liked the lunch counter at Newberry's where they served the new Bird's Eye giant frozen peas.
I was always impressed with how Hazard kept up with the automobile craze. Everybody and his brother had a decent car that was their pride and joy. They always went downtown on the weekends and jockyed for a parking spot. Sometimes making 5 or 6 loops before one opened up.
I wasn't really a loner. I had friends all over. But when I got ready to go out and roam around I didn't need a group to go with me. I got into delivering newspapers for a while with my buddy. I believe his name Hershel Crowe? I worked will Bill Horn at Sluders. He was a loner, too. My newspaper buddy and I went over to the Railroad Station about 5 o'clock everyday and picked up a bundle of Knoxville News Sentinel and hawked them downtown for a nickel. All the old farmers and drunks enjoyed reading the Sentinel and we had no trouble selling out every night. We hit the Perry County Court House and all the bars and pool rooms and up and down both sides of Main Street.
I occasionally went to see Dr. Morgan for various treatments. He was upstairs over Fouts Drugs. Over the years I bought a football, basketball, baseballs and glove, among other things at Sterling Hardware. There were no sporting goods stores back then. We bought .22 ammo and BBs and bicycle parts at Firestone and Western Auto. And the barber shop was in between the pool room and the Hazard Lunch.
There were several tough guys who hung around town. I remember when they built the so called Mall between the theatre and the drug store it was convenient for me to walk through there on my way home up Baker Hill. One night one of these bad guys grabbed me by the arm and stuck a snub-nosed in my ribs and forced me to go with him somewhere. He was drunk and a little squirrelly and I just played it cool. He was rambling on about the places he had broken into and robbed, and I acted impressed. After we walked across the bridge I pushed him down and took off up the back trail to my house. Climbing quickly up the path I knew he couldn't catch me but thought he might follow anyway. I got home, grabbed my .22 rifle, eased back down the hill and found a good place for an ambush. I waited quietly for a while but he never got up that far. He was a lucky man, because I would have killed him and nobody would have ever known who it was. That's the way it was back then. No, I didn't go to the police. But I did see him a couple times after that. He looked at me curiously but apparently couldn't figure out who I was. He was from Viper or Vicco.
Wednesday, May 27
Ma Brewer had a big family and they lived in a big house that was near what I called the dip on Maple Street. It seemed to me the porch went all around her house. It sat a little high because of the flooding for she was right on the banks of the North Fork of the Kentucky River and it got angry at times.
Let me take you to the Brewer Hole (back then). We crossed East Main at Gene Baker Motor Company, walked down the street and turned into and down Maple Street at Doc and Mrs. Adams (Dentist, parents to Randolph and Ed); Across the street sat the home of Roy and Minnie Baker; next to the Bakers was the big house of Ma Brewer and her family (her granddaughter still lives in Hazard and is one of my old friends), then at the bottom of the short hill on one side was the home of the Mattinglys and on the side of Ma Brewer's was the well-beaten path that leads down to the water which we all called The Brewer Hole because I reckon the back part of the sandbar was her property ?? Then one would start up the other side of the dip which when followed took you to Hall's Grocery and back into East Main Street.
One of the joy's was being old enough to swing out into the water from one of the many grapevine swings. I was not allowed to do this but I could swing on one of them and Dad or Mom would be there to catch me as I dropped onto the sandbar. Another joy was watching for the L&N to come by and the engineer would give out a blast and wave to us until his part of the train got out of sight. And a no no to me but many of the youngans back then slipped and swam from the Ma Brewer side over to the side where the sawdust was deep, deep, deep from the wood processed above the river. They would take run goes and jump into that sawdust, wet mind you and come out looking like some kind of monster but even watching them was fun.
The sand was as clean as it could be from the river bed and my sand buckets were always full when I had to go back home, and Dad would take them and put them in a part of our play yard for me and it turned out to be a pretty little sand pile which I had to settle most of the time to play in. "Idy, you don't go near the water at the Brewer Hole without one of us being with you." They instilled that in me but they didn't have to worry because I was scared to death of the water.The sand bar stretched from the back of Ma's house down to the bridge that crossed over to Blue Grass. Now, sometimes it was narrow in places but the biggest section was right at the bottom of the path which led from Maple to the water's edge. It was a place of safety for kids of all ages to play without any kind of fear. Even the very young ones would play in the sand while their parents would take a dip. It was just a family-friendly (today's slang) sandy beach to waller in and wash off before going home.
It was full of big mud turtles and Mark Hampton always caught the big ones it seemed and he would head home to fix them as he did. I never did know how they fixed mud turtles fit to eat but evidently they did because I asked him, "Mark where you gonna turn him lose?" "I'm not, going to clean him good and have him for supper." I suppose he did.
Tuesday, May 26
On January 25, 1940 the Masonic Temple building, next to the Hazard Baptist Church, on Main Street, suffered a massive gas explosion and was seriously damaged. It was so powerful it, also, blew the front off the Family theater across the street putting them out of business for a while. In 1943, somebody decided to clean up the entire top floor of the building and set up a recreation hall for the kids in Hazard. On the side of the building, in the alley, there was an outside access up to the top floor. That was the only way up. The "Rec Hall" was open on Saturday nights free of charge. It was equipped with two ping pong tables and an upright piano, among other things. I remember, in particular, the one kid who loved to play the Theme from The Outlaw on the piano. That movie had just been shown at the Virginia a couple of weeks earlier. He got many requests every Saturday night. Turned out to be a very popular meeting place for the kids. It was certainly worth the climb... Click here to view the side entrance to the recreation hall.
Monday, May 25
Sunday, May 24
Saturday, May 23
Friday, May 22
I taught at Hazard Baptist Institute. Some of my students included Beulah (Cooksey) Cornett, Lettie (Craft) Steele, Jessie (Cornett) Peters, Lois (Nicholson) Trosper, Mason Knuckles, Dr. Charles Baker, Chelsea Baker, Wallace Campbell and Paul Turner.
I will attempt to tell of the occupancy of the buildings on the west, or river side of Main Street, Hazard as I remember them in early 1922 and up.
Beginning across from the old jail, where Main Street stopped, Henry Campbell had a barn at the end of Main Street. James (Jim) Baker, who had worked at Mahan Grocery Company, at the end of the old wooden bridge at the depot, where Home Lumber is now located, had married my sister - Rachel Tye, who was then principal of Hazard Baptist Institute. They built a two-story frame building and started a business called Hazard Poultry and Supply. They lived in a bungalow next door, bungalow architecture was new then.
Next door was more modern architecture, a stucco home built by Bird Holliday. Bird also built a seven room apartment building next to that one, which I purchased. In this building lived many nice newcomers – including a bevy of attractive teachers. Among these were Frances Parks, (Mrs. Bill Morton, mother of the former Hazard mayor), Martha Rainey (Mrs. Bruce Hardy; Robert’s mother); Eula Hanes (Mrs. Rufus Ritchie. Rufus worked at the old Kentucky Block Coal Company); and Clarine Ross (Mrs. Dewey Daniel). We had the only phone for blocks, Number 400. I kept busy running to get the dates for these teachers. Clarine Ross got more calls than any of the other ladies but she made the correct decision when she married Dewey and so did Dewey. Dewey Daniel was the Beau Brummel of the hills and no one in the movies, not even Cary Grant, Hank Fonda, or William Powell, could hold a candle to his handsomeness.
Thursday, May 21
After a short time, Mother came into the living room and said, "The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. I think we are in another war." I can still hear those words as clearly as the day she spoke them. It was the day that everything changed.
I was eight years old and my knowledge of geography was limited, so I asked where Pearl Harbor was. Mother dragged out a world map and pointed out the Hawaiian Islands. She said that there was a big Navy Base there called Pearl Harbor, and that Japanese airplanes had bombed the ships there.
Our parents spent the rest of the day listening to the radio. There were no televisions in those days and radio reception was not good in Hazard because of the mountains. Newspapers usually contained stories a day or more older and newsreels at the movies were weeks, sometimes months, old before we saw them at the Virginia or Family Theater.
In the coming years, we saw young men go off to fight, sugar, meat, and coffee were rationed, gasoline rationing limited most drivers to 3 gallons a week, and supplies of things like soap and shoes were limited. If your tires wore out, you parked your car for the duration.
We bought savings stamps and bonds to help the war effort. My father was one of the organizers of a massive scrap drive that sent a train load of scrap metal off to the steel mills in Pennsylvania. He also served on the board of the OPA, a government program that froze prices at pre-war levels to avoid inflation.
It would be years before Hazard got back to normal, but we learned that we could survive hard times. We were proud of the way everybody pitched in to win the war.
Wednesday, May 20
Not long ago Mrs. Anna Lasslo, Juluis’s mother, asked me how I was feeling. I replied “about half and half.” She says, “how is that?” I told her “it was just so so.” She says, “how is that?” I replied, “betwixt and between.” I explained to her that in other words I was not bad or not too good. I would say I’m rocking along on an even keel.
What’s For Supper?
A mess of sallet peas is hard to beat along with a little Polk Sallet mixed with some mustard, green onions, lettuce, and of course with a little or big piece of salt bacon pitched in. There’s nothing like eating out of the garden at this season of the year, even if you don’t raise it yourself. I can recall sallet peas when I was a boy. I had to help carry brush and sticks for them to vine upon. Boys today never heard of this around town. Also in the country, the boys don’t carry on the work around the place as we who grew up in my boyhood days. We have gone through a series of changing times and traditions. We have to keep looking ahead but that won’t keep us from thinking of the days in the past. 1957
Tuesday, May 19
Living in Appalachia, I learned as a small child what it meant to toil and labor, for we had a garden, made lye soap, made “lasses”, even homemade wine from grapes they grew. My Irish granny always said that a little wine on getting up and a little wine on lying down would keep the blood flowing. I laughed at that, and they smoked clay pipes, cob pipes, roll your own cigarettes from Bull Durham, Buffalo, and so many others that came in draw string pouches or cans. (They lived to a ripe old age too, or most of them did).
I found out by being born and reared in Appalachia the meaning of the words “unrequited love” and “neighborly”. People loved people; neighbors loved neighbors; doctors loved patients; time was of the essence for most people for they got up at the crack of dawn and went to bed before the sun set; however, if a neighbor needed help, they were there, no questions asked, no procrastination, they were there. Even upon the loss of a loved one, the neighbor women were called in to “lay out” the body and get it ready for burial because there was no means in the early years of my life for a body to be preserved for a “wake” or “sitting up” ritual, that came later in my childhood. All in all, Appalachian women were the backbone of the early American life, they did the work of men, they carried and birthed the babies, they canned food, they made lye soap, heated their water in big wash tubs, washed clothes, hung them out to dry, gathered them, ironed them with irons they heated in the hearth ashes and by hearth flames; they doctored their families, other families; they cooked meals fit for a king, and enough to pass around in the neighborhood, and even for strangers that passed by; yes, when a stranger passed, I never knew of my Appalachian women not asking, “Come in, rest yourself, and let me give you a plate of food and a good glass of cold milk”. I don’t recall it ever being turned down. Where did all that love and kindness go with the passing of time; unconditional love was cast by the wayside it seems and now one barely has time to pat their youngster on the head or give their wife a smack as they leave out the door. My clothes were homemade, and there was nothing like a flour sack made into cloth, dyed and laundered, lace added, to make one a beautiful dress that could be worn to a ball. I never wore underwear made of sacks though, or I don’t recall anyone that I knew that did.I got to go to Uncle Garrett’s grist mill and watch while he took our corn and ground it into meal. I loved going in the back of Uncle Noah’s wagon up the “holler” to the “mill”. It was a good day and I always looked forward to it. I also loved when Uncle Noah would come by in his wagon loaded with veggies from his garden and he would pick me up and let me ride with him as he sold his veggies. It was a ride worth taking. Also, we didn’t own a vehicle, walked everywhere, but on Sundays I got to ride to Typo Ky to visit or to Jeff, Ky. To visit, by train; that is a story all in itself, but all in all not having a vehicle, in the grand scheme of things, never harmed me one bit.When I got sick, Mom or Granny also had a remedy, long before the word Homeopathic (sp); whatever ailed me, they had a cure and if they had to call for a doctor, they did, and paid him with taters, onions, veggies, etc. and he went away happy. Those were the days, and I am afraid those days will never pass my way again and that is what hurts, my children and grandchildren did not get to live the good life, but they surely have heard about it.We played in the streams and creek beds, free of pollution of any kind and so clear the minnows could be seen playing beneath the water; we roamed the hillsides looking for wildflowers of all different kinds, and made playhouses using moss as a lush green carpet, stones for furniture, and made belts, tiaras from using leaves and stems, interlacing them until it got long as we needed; we were introduced and acquainted with “critters” and taught at a young age to avoid those that were not to be toyed with; we learned to recognize plant life that could be brought out of the mountains and cooked of fried for supper; we learned the difference between good and toxic mushrooms; we were “home schooled” before that word was part of our language as it is today. Not so much in book learning because mothers had to quit school in early grades to help at home, but “common sense” home schooling which has kept me going all these years. Common sense has drifted by the wayside and that is sad.I could go on and on about the awesome life of a young girl given the chance to be born and reared in an Appalachian home with a Godly Mother, and grandmothers who told us stories brought to Appalachia by ancestors long gone before I was born. Stories were told around the fires, around the quilting frame, in the swing on a wide open porch, or at the knees of the storyteller, very gifted people, who had time to share their thoughts and memories on to me, so that I one day could do the same. I think I did that. My life as a child growing up in Appalachia resembles much the same as Laura Ingalls growing up on the prairie, just a different geographical area, and we both learned and passed it on. Mothers, please take time to listen to your young child, they have so much to pass on, even in their language that years from now you will recall. As the cliché goes, “Take time to stop and smell…” Well, I have it my own way for you, “Take time to stop, rest a spell, smell nature’s essences that abound, listen closely when a child speaks, take advantage of God’s treasures all around you in Appalachia, walk and talk with your child, and then at night, relate to them a story that you know that has been handed down to you; tuck your child in with a hug and kiss, and lay your head down for a much deserved rest.”You are blessed beyond measure, Appalachian Mothers!
Monday, May 18
Sunday, May 17
A gentlemen was talking to me a few days ago, I will not mention his name or age; the remarks he made amused me some what. He stated, “Did you ever see these contraptions that women are wearing on their ears this day and time?” I remarked I had not noticed anything unusual. He said, “I met two out there a few minutes ago that looked like the blind bridle that I put on my mule. Sure enough I did see about the same thing. I assured him the flood must have brought all this on. He stated, “No, indeed son, Hell or high water, neither one would cause women to put such things on their years.” 1957
Saturday, May 16
Didja' ever set on the courthouse square when you were just a boy and dodge the baccy and cedar shavings, now wan't that a joy?
Didja' ever sneak out back of the barn with a corn shuck in your pocket and smoke till you were blue in the face, if'n you ain't please don't knock it.
Didja' ever set on the old creek bank with a can of worms aside you, holding that cane pole real tight lest you got a bite or two?
Didja' ever walk an old rail tressle that ran across the river below, looking down all the while lest into the water you would go?
Well, I hope these little lines bring back memories of yore' cause I'm aimin to write another'n, would you read one more?
Friday, May 15
Times have changed a lot since those days. I have heard a lot of comments that if the Railroad had a good passenger train out of here it would be used. Maybe so. I don’t know. Since the day of the automobiles, our highways have been so crowded, and it is possible that a good train could offer better transportation. At least it might be safer.
Speaking of the changing times, I have heard the Railroad blasted from here to yonder because they went to using oil for fuel instead of coal. I will admit they don’t sound just right with this type of fuel being used. I must say look and listen before you make a crossing over any railroad tracks anymore. These darn diesels will slip upon you without any puffing of steam and etc.
We can’t argue one clause without the other, Railroads went to oil, household users changed from oil to electricity. Now you can flip a switch and you have lights. I can recall carrying a coal oil lamp to bed, always being cautioned, “don’t drop or break the globe.” Or you could even go farther back when pine knots were used for lights.
Around the cycle goes and where it will stop I am sure no one knows. Yes folks, the times have changed so often in such a short span of time. I often wonder if we really appreciate what we have today. 1961
Thursday, May 14
Wednesday, May 13
Do you remember the ease, the patience they had in rolling their own? These little gems had to be rolled just right, and the paper was see through thin, and I noted the mouth was held just right as they rolled, and I guess each had his/her own way of rolling their own to make sure they had a good one…then they would take their tongue and roll across the homemade jewel of a smoke to make good and sure it was sticking together, holding the “baccer” so they wouldn’t lose it before they got to take a puff or two. Then they would put that limp piece of tissue paper with a little “baccer” in it, hastily to their lips, because most of the time while they were licking it to seal it, “baccer” would fall all over the place, but they’d light it and puff away. You know, I always heard smoking wasn’t good for a feller but most of these I speak of lived to be a ripe old age.
Well, I grew up with a bunch of old folks who would sit around at night puffing and telling tall tales. The men would smoke out in the open but the women would hide to do their smoking, lest someone seen them and that was not proper. I guess watching the women folk hide to smoke, got us youngans wanting to do the same. Anyhow, we tried to mock our peers and one of the older kids in the group had heard about drying corn silks for “baccer”. That sounded good to us. So, me and a couple of my cousins decided we would try to “roll our own” and we went out into Auntie’s garden, slipped off some corn silks, put them in the sun to dry and when they got good and dry, we proceeded to “roll our own”, something like this: we’d take an old brown paper poke or sack, tear it up in strips, place a few corn silks on the paper and wrap it up. Then, we’d do that “rolling over the tongue sealing kind of thing” to make sure we didn’t loose any. Then, we’d light it up and puff away as we had watched the old folks do. A puff or two would do us as I remember how it would take our breath. That was about as far as I got into smoking, the old time brown paper bag, cornsilk roll your own. A very special kind indeed.
I wonder with all the disease today and smoking issues if there was anything in that special blend of roll your own that hurt us. Probably not. I don’t recommend cigarette smoking to anyone, corn silks or what have you, nosireee. Don’t try it folks, it could be hazardous to your health, or your butt as when we were caught we dearly paid but did we try it again, what do you think?
Tuesday, May 12
I have fond memories of Mrs. Laura Begley, the mother of Ott Begley. During the time I carried her mail, I called her Aunt Laura. Many a stormy day I'd hit her porch and she would say, "come in son, it is too bad to travel." She would fix me a hot cup of coffee. I can recall when her husband was Police Judge. One of my friends had a little trouble one night. I called the judge to help him out. Judge Begley said, “just let me finish supper and I will see what I can do for you.” After he had his supper, he did what he promised. He turned a kid loose from jail that later made a very good citizen. In fact, I would say one of the best the city has ever had. 1960
Monday, May 11
Their home on the hill overlooking Oakhurst (in the future that would lead to La Citadelle), was the perfect place for the two of them to sit and look out at the stars at night; a tranquil setting hidden away from the hustle and bustle below them, where he could rid himself of the turmoil of a law practice and find comfort sitting in the swing with her, as they listened to the crickets symphony.
My cousin and I once a week would deliver milk and butter to their home on the hill. Her brother had instilled in us that the house was haunted but we hadn't seen a spook and besides we got a nickel a piece for making the delivery service of home churned butter and fresh milk. I don't recall ever seeing his wife, but we did see his sister who would take our delivery and give us money to take back, plus a nickel extra for each of us. This was long before the motel was built or any houses as I recall, other than the ones down below them on Oakhurst, i.e., Mrs. Metcalf, my Uncle Curt Stacy, The Moodys, The Gilberts, the Haleys, the Colletts, and Brown and Nancy Baker at the very end where we would turn up to Uncle Garrett's little farm on the mountain facing the one on which the Faulkners lived. We never let darkness set in on us before we made it off the hill though. I grew up with memories of this tranquil place etched in my mind, and years later Mr. Faukner and I would meet again when I worked with him on several projects pertaining to his law practice. He smiled as I recalled for him my memory of his home atop the mountain. A small world, you might say, a small world indeed.
Sunday, May 10
Would you like to be a contributor to this blog? Email us your memories from Hazard and Perry County. If you have a suggestion, let us know. We encouarge everyone to post comments on this site. All you have to do is click on "comments" at the bottom of each entry.
Today's funfact: A boy was born at the Hazard Hospital February 28, 1942. This was nothing unusual in itself, but the fact that his parents, Lt. and Mrs. John C. Gilmer, who lived in California, traveled between two and three thousand miles in order that their son might be a Kentuckian was unusual. Lt. Gilmer was a former resident of Letcher County. The trip back home was made at the insistence of Mrs. Gilmer, who although not a Kentuckian herself, insisted that her son should be.
Saturday, May 9
Friday, May 8
Thursday, May 7
Wednesday, May 6
I remember P.L. shopping for a fresh loaf of bread at the A & P. He would walk up to the bread aisle, lift up a loaf of bread, weigh it in his own way of transferring it from hand to hand, then bringing it up to his face to see if he could get a whiff of freshness. He would do something else rather strange, especially to me, as I had the chance to watch his purchase of bread many times, and as a youngster his antics would make one stop and sort of get in on what he was doing. One time he asked me if I knew each loaf of bread had a different number of slices; that each loaf did not contain the same number; I just listened as he kept on, "see, pick this one up and sort of take it like this (transfer it from hand to hand), shake it lightly and then it would loosen up and you could take your fingers and almost count the slices." Well, every time after that I would see him going through his freshness test and knew he was determining which loaf to buy by guessing which one had the most slices. Mr. P. L. was unique in that way.He and his wife, Bess (who was my Sunday school teacher at First Baptist) could be seen daily in their little garden out back of their home on East Main Street. Bess was such a teacher that none of us wanted to leave her when it came time to move on. I know she had to keep me for several years because I just wouldn't move. Two of the most gracious, humble people that ever called Hazard and my beloved Big Bottom home. I think their house sat between the Lykins and the Heath homes if I remember correctly. She would, most of the time, be working in her flowers in the back yard, and he would saunder out front where his treasured 1940 dark green Chevrolet sat in the driveway, and he would daily shine it up, making sure nothing settled for long on the chassis. Besides his family, that car was his pride and joy. He bought the car new and was still driving it 32 years later at the time of his death in 1972. I think the last time I saw that car was when I was in High School in the early 50's. Mr. P. L. and his 1940 Chevrolet were a part of the bestest place in all the world to grow up in and call home, Big Bottom, USA.
Being the religious man he was, Johnson never carried a Bible around because he felt it would scare people. Instead he carried scriptures in his hat which he read to many people. He mowed his neighbor's lawns, did all the repairs to his home on East Main Street, and to the many teenagers he taught in Sunday School, to the black people, and to the middle age white people, he meant more than anyone in town.
He wrote to several Presidents, governors, senators, and the Corps of Engineers trying to get flood control for East Kentucky. He always had time to talk to people. He wanted to help Eastern Kentucky and especially Hazard, the town he loved so much. "I don't like to sit around and talk about the good ole days, the way a lot of older people do. I like to look at what's happening today and involve myself in the present," he said.
Johnson was healthier at 85 than many men in the 30s. He credited part of this to the fact that he went through a vigorous World War I exercise each day. He attributed the exercise, a desire to move on with the times, good meals, and his faith in God as being the reasons for being able to stay so healthy. Johnson had really never been sick in his life. He had the mumps when he was in the Army and they made him stay in the hospital for a couple of days, but it was a very minor thing.
Johnson married the former Miss Beth Kathleen Owens of Hazard on Thanksgiving Day in 1925 and they had one daughter - Mrs. Hoge Hockensmith who married a Baptist minister from Hamilton, Ohio.
Bill Minor of Hazard who was a close friend said, "I think he was one of the biggest men Hazard has ever known and he stood in the eyes of the Lord." There was no generation gap for P.L. Johnson. He thought young and acted young.
It was part of our day to take a walk from our house past the Bakery, The Johnson Funeral Home, the home of Henry and Mrs. Howard, the Lykins Family, of course, Bess and P. L. and their daughter, Nora Lee, Bob and Lora Heath and one of my best friends, Lavonne, Minnie and Earl Maggard, the Wooton family, the McGuires, Ollie Combs (Bullard) house, the Davis' (Alvin and Don), the Shuttes, the Hines, and we would stop at McIntosh's little store to get a pop, such a quaint little grocery store and we missed it terribly when they moved from East Main down to Dwarf. Then we would turn around and head back down East Main, by that time, very slowly and getting sleepy, and that routine was almost a late evening ritual for my Mom to take us walking to wind down, and then we were ready to go to bed and let the crickets, the tree frogs, and other night sounds lull us to sleep.
Tuesday, May 5
Monday, May 4
Sunday, May 3
Saturday, May 2
Boys, one of our youngest fisherman I have learned about is none other than little Bruce Duncan, 2 and a half years old. He journeyed with his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Joe Duncan of Hazard Drug to Lake Cumberland. They reported no fish caught due to the rain. They felt sure that little Bruce was going to make a real fisherman by the way he played with the minnows in the bucket.
Little Richard Blount in age, but not in size, because Richard is somewhere in weight up close to the 150 pound mark. Richard entered the 7th grade this year, after the first three weeks of school he came in one day and told his mother, Mollie, “It looks pretty tough this year, do you think we can pass it?” Mollie states that she doubts very much is she will be able to graduate. Yes, Mollie times are changing every year. It has been a long time since we entered the 7th grade. I dare say that the 7th graders today now more than we did when we got through high school. I say you must have a lot of patience and prayer. 1957
Friday, May 1
I can remember his mother, the meals I had at her home. She use to say Ross sop another biscuit, it would be either honey or sorghum. Fellows, I sopped them because any time you set down at Aunt Dora’s table you had to eat. I usually did not need any encouragement after a wet day afield. Uncle John, who was Aunt Dora’s husband would always want you to take something home from their place, anything from turnips to eggs. Sometimes I wonder if our times haven’t changed too fast. Especially for our oncoming generations. Maybe they could have been pushed too fast to really appreciate the old folks and the ways that they were raised. To me, it will always be hard to get away from my raising. I will never have any objections to the advancement of our youth. I would suggest that you be proud of your heritage and honor thy father and mother, they have made great sacrifices for you. 1957