Wednesday, May 27

The Brewer Hole

Ma Brewer (Martha) was a very well known Hazard icon in a way. If you ever met her once you would not forget her. She kept her makeup on daily (even to extreme sometime) but she was old it seems when I started my memories at The Brewer Hole. According to the 1930 Census she was 52 then, and already a widow. She, Uncle Matt, Aunt Laura and many others belonged to the Daughters of America (Not DAR) and they were so very active in the Lodge.

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.

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