Friday, April 30

Cows & Hogs & Dogs! Oh My!

With the coming Spring, building in Hazard has started with a boom, and Main Street bids fair to be almost a solid business block. Outside capital is becoming interested, and the eyes of Kentucky are on Hazard, the heart of the coal field. The census will probably show that Hazard, Lothair and Lennut combined are about 7,500 people - enough to make a live, hustling modern city.

However, today Hazard's streets and alleys are filled with old paper and rubbish and a city with cows and hogs roaming the streets and with the dogs so numerous that one can hardly walk without walking over one. There is enough old paper on the streets and alleys to print the Sunday edition of the New York World. And there are also enough tin cans along the river bank to put tin roofs on half the houses in Hazard. Spring is here and nature is trying to purify the air with good clean sunlight. 1920

Thursday, April 29

Five-Cent Novels & Moving Pictures

Almost any night at a late hour, small children can be seen alone on the streets of Hazard. Anyone knows that the street is not the place to mold boys into true manhood. Some boys are seen smoking cigarettes and cigars. Cigarettes stunt the growth of children and dull the brain and reduce them to a low state of morality. In addition, any one who observes can see that from some source the boys in Hazard are getting ideas that true life is one of a wild, desperate nature, and that a man is not a man unless he carries a gun and is ever ready for trouble. Whether these ideas are coming from five-cent novels or from low class moving pictures, we cannot say. Moving pictures, like books, are splendid when they are the right kind but the "knock down and drag out kind" of either books or movies will do more to corrupt the minds of the youth than any other two things mentionable. 1920

Wednesday, April 28

Escape Across The River In The Darkness

Thieves broke into the Hazard Drug Store on Main Street around 2 AM on April 22nd 1930. They gained entrance by breaking the lock on the back door. They then jimmied open a steel cabinet containing the store's supply of prescription whiskey and carried away the entire stock of 115 pints of bonded liquor. After stealing the whiskey the robbers ransacked the store and took whatever appealed to their fancy. Their selections included a number of watches, several flashlights, a quantity of cigars, cigarettes, and $25 from the cash register.

The robbers took plenty of time to rob the store but from their subsequent actions their nerves must have been in some what shaky condition. They jumped in their getaway car, a stolen vehicle that belonged to a Cleveland, Ohio man who was visiting Dave Pritchard in Hazard. The vehicle had been parked in front of Prichard's home. The theives drove out Big Bottom and apparently thought the lights of an approaching car was that of the police. They headed down Maple Street and turned down an alley that led to the river near J.L. Johnson's residence, stopping near the edge of the river.

Meanwhile - Bill Johnson and Oscar Baker were staging an all night fishing party nearby. After hearing the commotion they decided to investigate. As they neared the car three men jumped out and ran towards the river and Johnson and Baker gave chase. Johnson overtook one of the men but during the tussle they fell on a barbed wire fence. Johnson, who was underneath, was cut in the arm by one of the fence barbs and thinking the man was using a knife, let go his hold. The man and his two partners in crime made their escape across the river in the darkness. 1930

Tuesday, April 27

'Till The Cows Come Home

The grass is growing in the Backwoods and the cows have about quit bothering Main Street. My hope is that one day in the future - Hazard will have a bigger police force so they can keep the cows, hogs and dogs off the streets. But for now it is only a dream because the cows and hogs in particular walk on the sidewalks and the dogs are so thick that women and children can hardly travel the streets without stepping on one.

I think everybody has forgotten how deep the mud was here last winter during the 1919 season. They're not building any sidewalks. They must think there will never be another winter. There are seven new brick buildings going up on Main Street, all of them modern. The old wooden shacks on the street will look a little strange standing next to the new buildings.

The clock at the Perry County Court House hasn't worked for years but still manages to be on time at least twice a day. The clock was struck by lightning many years ago and no one has ever had any luck getting it to run.

The women of Hazard are going to vote for the first time in a Presidential election this year. The Democrats have nominated James Cox. His running mate and vice Presidential candidate is Franklin D Roosevelt. The Republicans have chosen Warren G. Harding as their candidate. So it will be between Cox and Harding. 1920

Monday, April 26

What Fun, Oh, What Fun

I was growing up in Hazard, along with so many others, we more or less made our own entertainment. Oh, we had dolls, including paper dolls, and items we got for birthdays and Christmas, but most of us were outdoors youngans and hated to come in when darkness started to fall, take a bath, and be put to bed. Our windows were open and the cool night air circled the room while I lay and listened to the night sounds outside until my eyes finally drooped and then closed in peaceful sleep.

We did not have to unwind our minds from the stress of pushing buttons, moving “sticks”, punching remotes, but were so tired from romping up and down the hills and hollers that sleep was not a stressful sleep but very peaceful and our thoughts would take us to “dreamland” whereby we entered into a fantasy world of our own, awaking with a sound mind and body ready to meet a new day.

Let me tell you about some of our entertainment, my close friends and I, shared in those days. My favorite was a beautiful stick horse that Uncle Matt whittled on to make him a pinto pony, using one of his Sunday ties or an old belt for his neck, making him very special. I would put on my cowboy boots (with little guns at the side, yep I was a tomboy), and gallop away to my heart’s content.
Then, one of the ingenuous fun things, were to take two empty tin cans, the bigger the better, and smash each one with a foot, making sure the foot fit the dent, and each foot was adorned with the cans of our choice (as we always could find old tin cans), and we would run and play with these on our feet, seeing who could wear them the longer before they got loose and we had to quit. The noise they made on the pavement (after our holler got paved), I reckon, made us happier when we could outdo one another.

“Stilts” were the thing, but we had to be extra careful when using stilts and when Dad would make mine they got taller as I grew. My first stilts were not too tall, but when I graduated from that set, the next made me taller and I felt so big up there in the air, walking up to the porch and saying “boo” to Granny, who let me have a “boo” when she got closer to me that day. “Stilts” or mine, were made from sturdy trees that had sturdier branches that could be cut away and leave a place for my feet. They also made me “brought on” stilts that they would fashion out of boards and slats. I loved the tree stilts better because I could maneuver them.

And, one of the best I kept to last because I had so much fun with these “caissons” and I made the military song come to life as I played up and down the place known to me as “Big Bottom”, “…over hill over dale we would hit the dusty trail as my caisson kept rollin’ along…” Yep, I kept my caisson clean as a whistle, very possessive of the old castaway tire. We didn’t own a car so I had to look around the neighborhood for a cast off. I washed and shined it, and would carefully place myself inside it and push myself off and round and round I would go until I hit something or drug my foot along to stop me. I have always wondered why it did not make me dizzy but as I remember, it didn’t.
Oh, yeah, one more…we would watch for someone to get an appliance in a big cardboard box, which I would snap up right fast, have Dad cut it for me (a big flat piece) and I would take it up on a grassy knoll and get aboard and gleefully take off down the hill. What a carefree life, huh? You see, this kept us busy during the summer “grass sliding”, waiting for the snow to fall so we could really go sledding over the white stuff. The green stuff became brown stuff as the summer went by because we made it bare to the ground but what fun, oh, what fun!!!!

Friday, April 23

Not Hat No Way

Perry Circuit Judge Sam Ward slammed the lid down on "order" in the courtroom today, and caught Bob Cooksey under the lid. Said the judge, "Bob came wandering into the courtroom, talking loud and wearing his hat. I waited a while and he continued the talk and his hat stayed on his head, so I just sent the sheriff down to bring him before the bench." Deputy Sheriff Ballard Stidham, who is waiting on the sessions of court, escorted Mr. Cooksey to the bench after he had removed his hat. A fine of $2 was assessed against Cooksey and so entered on the books. Judge Ward said that his only goal was to improve the order in the court room and that he would not be hard on those who didn't know the rules but said that Cooksey "should know better." The judge has ordered all of the benches on which the visitors sit, moved well back from the jury rail, and he says he is doing everything he can to stop the common practice of having anyone who cared to slip in to the bench, even during trials. 1940

Thursday, April 22

Justice Late, But Justice Still

On the night of May 1st 1898, R. C. Knickols and Ballard Begley were out together playing cards in the Perry County Court House on Main Street. There was some trouble over the game and Knickols killed Begley by shooting him in the back. Knickols left the scene but was later captured on Owls Nest and brought back to Hazard and lodged in the Perry County jail. He was transferred to the Booneville jail in Owsley County and was indicted for murder and his case was to be tried in Owsley Circuit Court. However he escaped. Authorities were unable to locate Knickols and the search was eventually given up. 22 years past with no sign of the man who was wanted for murder. In 1920 - Rev. James Osborne was in Beckley, Indiana when he recognized Knickols. Osborne notified police who quickly arrested the fugitive. Authorities contacted Hazard police for information on the murder that happened back in 1898. Knickols was back behind bars.

Wednesday, April 21

Oddity of 1943

Perry County taxicab operators are being warned today that they must comply with the provisions of their license which limits the number of passengers which may be carried on any trip. It is said that a taxicab is limited to six passengers, and that in many instances on rush days some of the cars have been carrying eight to ten persons.

If a car carries more than six persons it will be rated as a bus and the operator will be forced to pay a license covering that class of vehicle.

Tuesday, April 20

Happy Hazard

by Frank S. K. Meyars (1920)

We live in a Kentucky town, where the golden sun shines down;
The moon, the stars give their light, while we converse in delight.

Independent of what others may say, we look forward to another day. Other states their envy can not hide, because we live and love in pride.

We enjoy the pure, free air, and know of nothing to compare, with the grand mountain life, which to the "city folks" would be strife.

But we are happy just the same, and not ashamed to bear the name, of being called a "Hazardite," which gives us joy and delight.

Sunday, April 18

Up To The Hub In Mud

Hazard, Kentucky, our beautiful little mountain city nestles so peacefully and securely in the small valleys and on the hills below the tops of the mountains along the north fork of the picturesque Kentucky River. During the last one hundred years, much progress has been made and many things have transpired that would make excellent historical reading - and it is all the more to our credit that what has been done was accomplished under handicaps and difficulties.

Just at the present time in 1920 - many business houses and homes are in the process of being built, and the sound of saw and hammer is heard on all sides of our pretty little city "in the hills of old Kentucky." This is music to every good citizen's ears, and they are watching with pride in their eyes each new building begun, knowing it will add just that much more to the up-building of the city. And those engaged in the construction of these new buildings seem possessed of a mind and will to work. In fact, all of our good people seem inbibed with the spirit of the Spring season and are putting new life into their work and ways of attending to their business. There is plenty of work here, of some sort, for us all to do, and there is no denying the fact that the busier a people are the more prosperous and contented they will become.

Let's all make up our minds that we will be entirely too busy to become engaged in unnecessary gossip and squabbles. One can not help but wonder, however, as he walks about the city and realizes the condition of the roads (we can't conscientiously call them streets) - especially during a wet season - and what an impediment they are to the speedy transportation of our building material and produce, as well as to passenger travel, just why it is that good streets have been so long neglected in our midst.

The highest progress of any city or town can never be reached until men and goods can be transported to it and through it with ease and facility. Mud a foot deep or more on the public thoroughfares is a nuisance, and a glaring obstacle to true development and growth. As long as we are known as a little city that is "up to the hub" in mud we cannot hope to draw very many new citizens or summer visitors. And, by the way, we can see no particular reason why people should not want to come to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to spend their summers or vacations, where the nights are delightfully cool and refreshing, just as much as they flock to Asheville, N.C., or any other summer resorts of the Blue Ridge or the Appalachian range.

There must not be but a few reasons why we do not have these summer visitors in large numbers - and they are that our scenery and climate have not been made known to them, and we haven't the hotels or houses to accommodate them should they desire to come, and lastly, but by no means least, we have not the good roads for them to travel over and see the beauties and grandeur of the natural formation of our country round about. 1920

Tuesday, April 13

Trigg Mitchell, general manage of the Knott Coal Corporation visited the Grand Hotel for Supper only to find he had no money. He called over the waiter, Houston Hogg, who had waited on him many times and explained the situation. When Mr. Mitchell faced the cashier he found out that his check was already paid by Mr. Hogg, and other waiters and waitresses such as Paul Davis, & Carol Rose. 1944

Monday, April 12

S' Funny Ain't It?

An auto crash with considerable mystery attached to it occurred near Christopher. A Chevrolet coach and a Nash roadster figured in the bump and when the dust had cleared away both cars were across the railroad tracks, the Nash headed towards the river with its two front wheels over the bank just about ready to roll down into the water. And here's where the mystery comes in. Both drivers were unknown to any of the witnesses of the smash and the driver of the Chevrolet jumped out and tore the license plate from his machine and departed from the scene in a very rapid manner leaving his car to its fate. The driver of the Nash found that his vehicle would still run and managed to get it back on the road and then he stepped on the gas for parts unknown. The Chevrolet was moved off the tracks but left at the scene of the accident. Again some unknown parties came and removed this car leaving no hint behind of who they were or where they were going. Usually when anyone has a wreck they want the other parties names or have them arrested or something of the sort but these two drivers seemed determined to shun the white light of publicity in all its forms. S" funny ain't it? 1930

Sunday, April 11

The boys and girls at Hazard High School are rehearsing daily a Japanese Musical Comedy, Miss Cherry Blossom. The play will be presented under the direction of Miss Ruth Lynn, director of high school music of the local high school. The cast will consist of such well known students as Pauline Combs, Homer Eversole, Cecil Whitaker, Forest Cornett, Fred Bullard, Sarah Whittinghill, Carleton Allais and Lester Baker. About 50 high school pupils will participate in the choruses. The story of the play is essentially that of love and intrigue with the climax coming when Cherry and Jack marry, and all ends happily. The students under the direction of Miss Lynn, are giving much time to rehearsals and the play has every promise of being a pleasing one. 1930

Friday, April 9

Big Tales Of The Past

Family reunions allow us to honor loved ones that have passed on, it gives the younger generations a chance to learn something about their families, a day to make acquaintances of your children, as well as some of we older ones. To me, reunions are a time to gather to eat, to meet, not to preach or politic, but to have a friendly gathering to spill big tales of the past, also to look forward to the future. I know that many of you have kin folks you didn't know about. I have a picture of Oliver Hazard Perry in the window of the Davis Brother's Store. Bill Perry of the H & P Market in Hazard walked in and asked me how I got hold of a picture like that. He stated that Oliver was his great, great, great grandfather. It is things like this that makes us say we should have a record of our ancestors. 1960

Thursday, April 8

Oddity of 1941

A freak windstorm, which lasted less than ten minutes, ripped down Hazard's Main Street and caused a considerable amount of damage. Most of the harm was confined to the Leader Store's front where ten large pieces of plate glass were broken and merchandise picked up and deposited 200 feet away at the end of an adjoining alley. A large neon sign was blown over and besides being damaged extensively, tore numerous holes in the roof. Skylights in the Major Store building were broken out.

Wednesday, April 7

This Old House

One of Perry County's most romantic and legendary landmarks is the old Johnson home at Chavies. It is reputed to be the oldest dwelling in Perry County.

The two-story home, located just off Kentucky 28 at Chavies is now owned by Paul Johnson, postmaster at Chavies. Paul is the grandson of Tom Johnson, who built the house about the time of the Civil War.

Paul's father, S.B. Johnson, better known simply as "Brown" to the residents of Chavies, is the closest living link with the traditions associated with the old home. Brown was born on the farm 82 years ago, when the property surrounding the house covered over 2,000 acres of timberland owned by the family.

Brown now lives with his son Paul in a large frame house within sight of his birthplace. Every day he walks the few yards up the road to the store and post office, where he spends quiet morning hours reading newspapers and sometimes telling stories of his family's history.

One if his favorite stories concerns his father's participation in the Civil War as an officer in the Union Army. Thomas F. Johnson and two brothers-in-law, Billy and Abner Eversole, went together in forming a company of infantry composed of mountain men.

By previous agreement, the man who signed the most recruits would be Captain of the company. Thomas Johnson wound up 1st Lieutenant under Captain Billy Eversole.

Perhaps the most violent engagement the company was involved in, other than several mild skirmishes, was the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky. Brown Johnson still chuckles when he recalls his own elders telling him about the battle. One relative came home wounded in the back of his leg, relates Mr. Johnson. The man vowed he became a casualty during the vigorous charge at Richmond. But he was never able to successfully explain to his relatives just why the wound was in the back of his leg.

There is considerable humor and irony in many of the old family stories Brown Johnson reflects upon today. In one case an attempt to instill the habit of truth into a daughter back-fired on Johnson's maternal grandfather, Joe Eversole. It seems that when Mr. Eversole was home on leave from the Union Army he was forced to hide out in his own home from a band of marauding Rebels.

The Rebels asked Eversole's daughter where her father was. Remembering the life-long counsel her father had given on the virtue of always being truthful, the little Eversole girl replied, "He's upstairs hiding out." The Rebels then dragged Mr. Eversole from the house, took him down the trail toward Krypton, and killed him. 1960

Tuesday, April 6

Ed Burris, who is eighty years young, tells me this story. A drunk was well along in his cups when he entered a cemetery in the wee hours of the morning. He laid down in a sink hole and covered himself up in leaves to sleep the stupor off. It seems that some of the relatives were cleaning off the cemetery the next morning, I would say way up in the day. They decided the best way to get rid of the leaves in the sink hole was to burn them. Ed said when the fire got hot enough around this drunk that had taken refugee there, he jumped up and ran like a scalded dog. It also frightened the ones that were working as they thought someone had risen from the grave. Ed says it sure did create a lot of excitement. This I can well understand. I can recall tall tales about cemeteries when I was a small boy. In fact, when I had to go through some of these places to reach my destination, above all when it was getting a little dark, boys believe me it would have taken a very fleeting ghost to have caught me. 1960

Monday, April 5

New Fangled Gadget

I remember when Dad came in and had them bring in the new TV, we all gathered around it. I was still doing the "radio" thing myself and was so avid in doing so that I think today this love of "listening" instead of "watching" gave me a chance to use my brain and dream up visions of what I was listening to. I loved lying in the floor near the "voice box" and as the words entered my ears, my brain started working overtime for I left my old floor and almost crossed over into the radio itself, making myself a part of what was going on. Honestly, I was good at that, I loved making myself come to life in what was happening at that given moment.

With that said, we all waited for the TV to be hooked up. I think we watched the Ed Sullivan show. By the time it was hooked up, we had a good audience. Our family members seemed interested but not carried away by it. I lived in a house of old timers who didn't cater too much to "new fangled" gadgets, as Granny would say. It was in black and white and had a pretty cabinet to it that you could shut when not in use. Later, Daddy got tired of that big "thang with such a little screen" that he traded it in on another model and this one sat on a pedestal that came up from the floor. It was odd looking but didn't take up the space the other one did. And, by that time they were coming up with pieces of plastic one could drape over the picture tube and you could have color. Dad chose green and believe you me it was odd sitting there looking at green people.

One evening we were watching Ed Sullivan and he had on a Bolshovic (sp) type of show where according to Granny, "them hussies hiking up their skirts and showing their drawers, or what they had on twern't drawers but "scanties" and jus' take a gander at that man holding that woman's butt in his hand, lifting her up over his head, reckon he gets to look a-plenty. Turn that evil thang off, Howard, turn it off now, these youngans don't need to see such to-dos as this." It really was a beautiful ballet number but she saw it with her eyes and I saw it with mine. We shore lived in two different worlds, I reckon.

The news traveled up the holler and all over Big Bottom, "Howard bought him a TV". Well, here come the kids from all over and they would sit out on the porch and watch through the door, then Dad would finally get up and invite them in to watch this or that only if they behaved. Behaved they did, and it was a pattern that every evening here they would come ready to watch tv.

The little screen got larger as time passed, I grew up, leaving my old radio behind, to watch the TV. Back then, there were good programs that you didn't have to worry about your children learning how to kill, rape, rob, etc. In fact, some of the early programs, did a good job of teaching my children good stuff. I have gotten much older, TV has progressed to a point where I rarely find anything that will keep me glued to its tube, and when my grands and great-grands are around I have to keep on my toes to see they don't see a bare butt or a lot of expletives. TV is still teaching its way, but nothing it teaches is worth a plugged nickle.

Friday, April 2

Country Ingenuity

A little bit of country ingenuity is bringing television to the mountains to the good people of Hazard, Kentucky. Despite the community's location in a natural bowl, a situation which normally hinders TV reception, local initiative found the answer to the knotty problem in a combination of hill-top antennae and house-to-house coaxial lead-ins. This gave Hazard (population 10,000), reception of two stations in Cincinnati and one in Huntington, West Virginia. The nearest of these beams its programs from a distance of ninety airline miles. Ordinarily, a receiver has its own large tower, which will do the work of many small aerials, on top of a 1000-foot mountain. They carved a road to within two hundred feet of the peak. From the roadway, materials for the tower and antennae were toted the rest of the way by hand. The TV cables were run down the mountainside from the tower, strung along poles of the local power and light company, and fed into the houses of set owners. TV had come to Hazard! 1951

Thursday, April 1

Warmest Place I Know

A man's best friend is his dog. The old adage still holds true. I won't mention any names because his wife might get jealous, but I recall one cold night coming back from a coon hunt with a friend of mine that I have done a lot of hunting with. We were riding in a Model A Ford and the dogs had been in the water when we got them in. We had no heater in this car. My friend said "I'm gonna to crawl back here in the back with these wet dogs because that is the warmest place I know of." Try to sleep close to a wet dog sometime. Believe it or not, they will throw off enough heat that you might think you are close to one of those old time Depot Stoves. 1960