Friday, July 29

Just Keep It Up

So glad to hear from so many of you so soon in regard to the Ox shoes I mentioned yesterday. Folks, without a doubt the Oxen did use a right and left shoe from all reports I have had. To prove it to you, Mr. Cris Brown has brought to me two shoes, one for the left and one for the right. Boys, I have also learned that it takes eight shoes per head. Now I have another question. What type of nails did they use to put these shoes on with? This I think I already know. Mr. Brown states that they were of the cut nail type. Here we go again. I am waiting to hear from you old timers of the Oxen Team days. Fellows, you sure caught me quick on this Oxen deal. So just keep it up. 1957

Wednesday, July 27

Left or Right?

To some of you old timers, I have a question that I want to ask you. In your days of the oxen when they were hauling goods into Hazard and Perry County, did the oxen wear a left or right shoe, or both? I have had some discussion in regard to this. I am looking forward to some of you fellows to get me straightened out on this. I think I know. 1957

Tuesday, July 26

Corn Pone

I bake a fresh corn pone daily and sometimes I crumble it in ice old buttermilk or just butter me up a good sized piece while it is steaming hot with good butter, not margarine, and do not need another thing to go with it, that's my meal at times. Remember, corn pone goes good with lasses too. Then if it gets cold, which it never stays in my old iron skillet long enough to get cold, but at times it does, I just wet a good paper towel, place it around my piece of corn pone, sock it into the microwave and in a few seconds it has the same texture it did when it was fresh bakes hours ago. Oh, yeh, a little bowl of friend apples, and a piece of corn pone is lip smacking good, ain't that right, C. H. and Roscoe?

It Would Raise The Hat Off Your Head

Not too long ago I ran into a gentleman. I did not get his age or his name. I asked him how he was getting along. He replied, "O.K. - just Moonshining. Made a little apple brandy this fall for me and my friends," he said. Me knowing this was a very good apple year, I wondered if he had any enemies. One of the boys along asked the old gent if the moonshine was good. "Oh yes," was his reply. Another stated that he would bet that it would raise your hat off your head. "Oh yes," replied the old gentleman. "It will do that to. There is salvation in it also if you don't drink too much," he said. With that reply he made his way down the road. Evidently he did not consider us a friend or enemy. 1956

Monday, July 25

Keep Your Feet On The Ground

Preacher John Flat Williams had a nightmare. As John tells the story, he thought he was flying. Boys, I guess he was until he landed across the foot of the bed with a sprained back. Nevertheless John spent several days in the hospital because of this nightmare. John, I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't blind on one side. Glad you are out and able to carry on your work again. John, you haven't been by yourself. I have heard of a few others that have done the same thing. I haven't been able to get full details in regard to them. So you don't feel too bad about having one. I would suggest that we might have to get a blind bridle for these mares. 1956

Friday, July 22

There's something about "Tater-plantin' Time" that gets next to a used-to-be farmer. Sure I worked on a farm (under silent protest) for many years. To be more explicit, we called it a farm. It wasn't so steep that we could look up the chimney and see cattle grazing on the hillside, but the hills were so steep that we were in danger of falling into the river from a cornfield that was near the mountain top.

My investigators tell me that the problem now is finding a plow animal to break up gardens and get planting done. It seems that owners of plow animals take orders and do the work as they get around to the different planters. We need more plow horses and mules.

Our farm people need more cows and chickens, hogs and sheep. They need to plant three times the amount of potatoes, onions, cabbage, beans, tomatoes and other garden items, instead of depending on a "paper poke" and can cutter for something to eat. Sure, I'm crazy, but any time you tell the truth now, it sounds crazy.

I paid 26 cents for a loaf of bread this week and looking back over some of my order books, I find where I sold 25 pounds of corn meal at that price some few years ago. Those good women who still know how to bake a good pone of corn bread can do their families a good turn and save an enormous amount of money by buying corn meal and flour and doing their own baking. 1957

Thursday, July 21

Way Back When

Yesterday's spasm with suggestions that we go back to the safe and sane way of living by putting in more time raising food, instead of following Uncle Sam with our hands stuck out, seems to have hit a familiar cord in most cases.

It made me feel like others in the community could remember "Way-Back-When," with so many people agreeing that there are many ways in which we could help ourselves by a little more work.

It may be well for us to face the fact that there are few prospects of another boom in our section in the near future. We will have some good business, with payrolls to keep us going, but many things enter into our economy that works against our particular coal field. It does not help to play ostrich and hide in the sand.

By taking advantage of the payrolls that are still with us, and preparing to raise more food also, we can build up the wealth of the county substantially.

There seems to be an epidemic of car thefts in and around Hazard, mostly by youngsters. In line with previous suggestions regarding raising food, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a good county farm where these birds who are not willing to work for money to purchase cars and gasoline, could spend a year or so raising food and thinking over their prospects.

Too many youngsters dream about driving fast cars, spending big money and living on a high level without work. They are not willing to get a job and build themselves up gradually. They want to start at the top and tell the boss how to run his business.

When you start at the top there is only one direction you can go. Down! 1957

Wednesday, July 20

Biscuits On Sunday

How many of you old-timers can remember sitting down to a meal of corn bread, shuck beans, platters of fried ham and red gravy, big bowls of stewed backbone and spare-ribs, country butter and milk, home-made stackpies, cushaw butter, platters of fried eggs, fresh cane molasses, blackberry cobbler from homecanned berries, hominy, etc, all gathered from the efforts of hard labor on a hillside farm where money was the one thing that seldom made an appearance?

It was done from the time of Daniel Boone down to the entry of the railroad into the mountains. A barrel of flour in wood lasted a family of six to ten people for half a year, with biscuits ONLY on Sunday morning. A few pounds of green coffee, small amount of brown sugar and a little salt, were purchased with the flour. That was the extent of grocery purchases in those days. Everything else came from "The Sweat of the Brow," and brother, if you followed a hard tail mule around one of these mountains all day, you knew what sweat meant.

After this fantastic journey back into the long-forgotten land of a world without government support; a time when nobody would have lined up in the sunshine all day for a little bag of tasteless surplus food, commonly known as "commodities," back to a time when it was no disgrace to work and pray; when some dope by the name of Smith said, "No Work, No Eat;" back to the good mountain custom of loving your neighbor so much that you would go in and do his work, take care of his farm and divide "side-meat" with him from your smoke-house when he was in trouble. Even back to the time you would stop and mourn with his relatives and take time off to help dig his grave when he died. What a Crazy World they had then. 1957

Tuesday, July 19

Crazy Venture

In my old-fashioned way, I sometimes wonder what would happen to this mountain country if every home from the Owsley County line, from the Breathitt, Leslie, Knott, Letcher, and Harlan County lines were to start a new way of living by pledging themselves to plant every available acre in some kind of crop. In addition to this bold move, they could install a good cow in the barn, raise chickens, hogs, a few sheep, and go back to planting cane for molasses. They could further add to their craziness by drying beans and apples, raising enough potatoes to feed their families, instead of buying thousands of bags annually that are raised in all corners of the United States.

By raising crops they would cut down on feed bills and their supply of good, whole milk, cream and butter would cost them only a fraction of what it does now.

This could not be done by the so-called "Ol Folks" alone. If the crazy venture is to succeed it would have to be a family plan, whereby the oncoming generation would drop some of the hot rod and "Jenny-Barn" activities and offer their help. It COULD be done without much expense, IF the youngsters joined in the plan. Jobs in the mines, in stores, on railroads and other positions that are now "paying" jobs could be carried on as usual. Very few people work more than eight hours daily for their pay envelopes. That leaves 16 good God-given hours for recreation and sleep. Five of these hours could be spent by the entire family working the farm, repairing fences, diggin' Taters, even pulling fodder for Old Dobbin. Some of the youngsters may blush when they approach Old Bess in preparation of persuading her "to give down her milk, but they would get used to it. 1957

Monday, July 18

Trains, Automobiles & Modern Girls

I enjoy the comments by C.H. Combs. You knew you were hitting home to a lot of people about not seeing a train or automobile until they were old enough to have killed a lot of squirrels. Well, I was raised until after grade school in Leslie County. My people died there, and I guess if living today, they would say, "I went to school in the Blue Back Speller, walked five miles to a log school, so if I did, it's good enough for my youngsters."

C.H. said we may have been better off without the invention of the automobile. My friends, I have a Jalopy, take my brood to school, when this hot rod will start.

Somewhere I read or saw a picture where a fellow went a courting with a club. Next I saw him with a girl by the hair, she wasn't dressed very well, and had no form - I mean she wasn't "chic," so from my experience, we don't want to go back to the stone age, so give us lots of trains, automobiles and the modern girls, and above all comments from C.H. Combs. 1956

Thursday, July 14

Never A Dull Moment

Sometimes when my pals and I went up on Peters Peak to shoot our guns, George Cowboy Smith would be there too. I didn't know him well, but he was a loner like me and we got along. He liked guns and had several pistols he would shoot. One was a nickel plated single action Colt .45. with pearl grips and he did wear a white cowboy hat sometimes. He was a tough guy and I believed his destiny was to be somebody who would eventually live by his gun either good or bad. I lost track of him when he went into the Army and I also left Hazard. Around 1952 when I hooked up with Dick McIntyre again in Hazard he told me a story about Cowboy. I was not surprised.

Down at the end of Main Street right on the corner where you turn right to go to Big Bottom, there was a regular Saloon there called The Wheel. That old three story building was always the bad part of town. They ran whores upstairs and downstairs. You could get any thing else you wanted. Some sold moonshine and dope on the street. Apparently the Wheel's business was doing very well. Booze, gambling and it looked like a place right out of "Gunsmoke." They were also cutting and shooting and fighting nightly. I can't remember the owner's name but he was a tough guy. He avoided being shutdown legally for a couple of years. I never understood Hazard politics. One year its wet, one year its dry. Anyway, Cowboy had been in to it with this guy several times but could never get anything to stick. One Saturday night Cowboy walks into the crowded place with the police department's Thompson sub-machine gun and empties a whole clip into the walls. The owner was slightly wounded. I'm not sure about the rest of the story but after that the place was closed for good.

Never a dull moment in Hazard back in the good ole days.

The Way I Figger It

"T'other day a man yelled to a woman across the street in Hazard, "Hey, has your husband decided about that?" She replied, "He ain't pime blank sure yit." A feller standing by me said, "She orter said he ain't pint blank sure." Nope, said I, you're both wrong. She orter said he aint point plank shore.

You know I was way up in my twenties before I knowed that Adam's off ox was the one on my right goin' yanway and the one on my left acomin' thisaway. And the lead ox was the one on my right acomin' thisaway and the one on my left goin' yanway. So it depends where you're a standin' at which Buck an' Ball are a goin' and acomin'. Leastways, that's the way I figger it. 1955

Wednesday, July 13

Questions From All Angles

This past week I had the privilege of speaking to a group of children at the Upper Broadway School, in the classrooms of Mrs. Rose Caudill, Mrs. Ann Tate, Mr. Estill McIntyre, and Mrs. Sara Gilbert. To you mothers and fathers that have children attending any classes under the above mentioned teachers, I want to say it would have been a pleasure for you to have listened in. I asked them if there were any questions that they cared to ask in regard to conservation. Boys, I will need some help the next time I attend a meeting at Upper Broadway School. These youngsters fired questions at me from all angles. Really, I was surprised to know how much these kids realize the importance of our natural resources. They were very much concerned about the forest fires, in regard to the amount of damage that we have had. This I hope to be able to give them shortly. The day I appeared before them, was hardly a 24 hour period after our rain came. To all it was a God send to stamp out the fires. To me it was more than a pleasure to meet with a group of children and interested teachers that have the foresight to look ahead for the next generation. These same kids will soon be the leaders of our communities. 1956

Tuesday, July 12

Interesting story came to me a few days ago. It seems that my old friend Raleigh Pratt from Hardburly can really tell them. As he relates, a young chap down on the Pine Ridge area, (who couldn't have been over 12 years old), flagged down a Greyhound bus. The driver stepped out and the kid said, "Mr., want to buy a possum?" This sort of provoked the bus driver and he said, "Do you want to ride some where?" "No....Do you want to buy a possum?" the kid asked. "Hell no" replied the bus driver. The kid said, "Don't get too upset about it, I haven't caught the possum yet."

This is the wit that will always prevail with our mountain folks. 1956

Monday, July 11

Before The Advent Of The Railroad

I am probably living more in the past than in the future, one that doesn't think that a return of the "Good Old Days" would get us out of the mess we are in. One who never saw a train until he was almost grown, and who never saw an automobile until he had voted. (Some 40,000 souls in this country now occupying the allotted six feet of good earth each year would have been better off if they had never heard of an automobile).

I would only be kidding myself if I thought the so-called younger generation has any interest whatever in the trials and tribulations of the old fogy set that came along my time. I could spend the rest of my life telling them that our pioneer fathers and mothers were real heroes and possessed a spirit that is not found in the bosom of the average youngster today, when they married and settled down on a hillside farm (I use the word lightly) with less than one good American dollar in their pockets in a land that had nothing to offer but honest people. The spasm would be laughed off as the ravings of a warped mentality.

Parents who came up through the era of poverty, hardships, sacrifice and suffering in this mountain country before the advent of the railroad and automobile are just plain back numbers - or so we learn by listening to the hot-rod generation. If they had been smart they would never have been in this position, we hear. Maybe this will be discussed some more, as we go along. Maybe not.

We will discuss various things, but we want to serve notice that personalities are OUT. Politics, religion, and women's ages, we can't discuss. (In all the Bible only one woman's age was given, and this Good Book was written by some of the bravest men of the Adamatic family. So who are we to be different?)

Everyone has problems. The world is in turmoil. More than half the world population goes to bed hungry each night. We are the richest and most selfish nation in the world, but we spend little time worrying about the problems of our fellowman.

Our entire nation is hell-bent on rushing down the highway of life, getting ahead of the other fellow, making more money and spending it for luxuries that seldom reach the rest of the world. We're not satisfied with a fair share of the good things of life. We want ours and half what should go to our neighbors. Just how we get his share is another story. 1956

Friday, July 8

The Only Way To Fly

In 1941 the War had begun and our lives were beginning to change. All good things were about to become scarce. Food, gasoline, and automobiles were on top of the list. A big part of my life as a kid in Hazard was centered around my bicycle. The ultimate in transportation, especially during the Summer. I had a pair of roller skates and a scooter but I was 10 years old now and I was ready for the next level. I had an old Morrow bike but it was just about worn out. I wanted a new bicycle but there were none around. So I started looking around for something second hand. After a week of shopping around the neighborhoods I find a very unusual bike over on Cedar Street. This gentleman had it parked in the garage and said nobody was using it any more. This bike turned out to be a Silver King, the all aluminum bike. It was about four years old, good rubber, light weight and it had 24 inch rims. I had heard of the Silver King but it was the very first I had seen. It had to be the only one in town. Didn’t take me long to make up my mind. I knew I was going to look good racing around Hazard on that. And I did...

Thursday, July 7

Leaving Something Behind

I can remember as a small boy when Dad Wooley came here to make Hazard his home and the many times he took us teenage boys into his offices that were located in the Johnson Building. He had deer heads, bear rugs and all types of printing around the walls, all regarding needs for conserving our natural resources.

Dad Wooley left a lasting impression on me as a boy about the needs for conservation. As I remember, he represented a land company after he came here. I consider him a pioneer in our conservation in Eastern Kentucky along with Robert Cooksey and Grover Vance, past president of the Perry Fish & Game Club. They, along with other founders of the club, have passed on. But I can recall a few charter members including Willie Jim Howard and Burley Harris.

In the early 1920s, people were too interested in making money and they came to Perry County for that sole purpose. Dad Wooley was one of the few who were interested in leaving something behind. And he has left a lasting impression for the cause of conservation. 1955

Wednesday, July 6

Great Day For Us Kids, Not The Cat

The Fourth of July was always a great day for us kids. Now we can terrorize the neighborhood with our firecrackers and it will all be legal. Firecrackers of various kinds were the real thing back in the 40s. Not like the wimpy stuff they sell today. The M-80s and the Cherry Bombs were terrific. We got our money’s worth with each explosion. They could be dangerous, too, which we learned from experience. Our group usually pooled all our nickels and dimes and then we went shopping for the good stuff. We didn't care about smoke bombs or Roman candles. Those were for girls. “Look mom, at my sparkler!”.

I still remember one Fourth when we had enough money to buy a big Cherry Bomb. The big one. It cost a whole dollar. It was so big it had its own wooden base and it had to be erect, pointing at the sky, before you lit the big fuse. Our youngest member, Burley Horn, wanted to be the one to shoot it. So we set up the bomb and give him a match and we all backed off looking for a safe place to hide. Well Burley was a little nervous and when he lit the fuse he jumped out of there in a hurry knocking the stand over in the process. Now it was in a horizontal mode, which was not good. It was pointed down Laurel Street directly toward Charles Davis’s house on the corner. The fist explosion was the launching charge that got the cherry bomb going. The big round bomb came out of the chute at flank speed, bounced down the middle of the street and went right into the gate in the front yard followed by a tremendous explosion. Now remember that cherry bomb was supposed to be a hundred feet in the air when it went off. Mrs. Davis came screaming out the front door, “What the hell was that?” Fortunately, by that time, we had all made a hurried escape and there was no body left on the scene.

Later we were cruising around Upper Broadway looking for other things when we came upon Mrs. Waltman’s white cat. Now, Mrs. Waltman was the principal of that school and also taught eighth grade. She was not our favorite. The cat was a little unusual because it had one blue eye and one green eye. We thought it would be neat to tie a small pack of fire crackers to his tail and see how fast he was. Well, he turned out to be pretty fast. Before the second cracker went off he was already sitting on top of his favorite telephone pole. After that he had no other choice but to sit there and count off ten or twelve more.

Tuesday, July 5

Anybody want a little alligator? Just a little fellow about 18 inches long? Bill Douglas, of Hazard, says he is willing to give it to anybody who will make a pet of it.

How one goes about making a pet out of an alligator, I don't know and I don't think Bill Douglas knows. But maybe there is someone, perhaps a lonely school teacher, who wants a pet.

Mr. Douglas received his alligator from a friend who brought it up from Florida. He says it will eat baloney (of which there will be plenty until after the November election) and other not so hard to get items. They're fond also of left legs, right hands and little children when they get a little larger. 1955

Monday, July 4

Our Flag

The life of a World War veteran reminds us that people of Hazard have too little respect for the flag which I have often witnessed and regarded. When the American flag is flown on the screen of any picture show in other cities the house is almost brought down with cheering and handclapping. In Hazard there is no sign that anyone recognizes the flag. That is partly the fault of the American legion (of which I am a member) and mostly the fault of the public. It should not be necessary to teach enthusiasm for our flag in these days, when the country is crowded with Reds and Bolshevists who are trying to wreck the government over which the flag is flown.

When the flag is carried along our streets every man should remove his hat at once, in respect. Living in the greatest country in the world, the only place where people enjoy any freedom, we should be proud of the flag that symbolizes our freedom. It is an honor to bow to such a flag. 1939

Friday, July 1

It is hot! Meet with almost anybody in Hazard and you'll get a very intelligent remark about the heat. One of the best heat fighters I know is calmness. And that means more than slowing down physically. It means avoiding mental panic. Think about something besides the heat.

At the Kiwanis Club meeting last night in that hot little meeting room off the mezzanine of the Grand Hotel, the song of the night was "Jingle Bells." And before it was over, I almost had a chill. Not from the psychological snow and ice, but from Alva Hollon's singing.

Sure the thermometer is away up high, but that's no reason for us to climb aboard a hot seat. We can be cooler by slowing down our walk, by giving our tongue a rest, by slacking off our curiosity about other people's business, and by thinking about the snow and ice we will have a few months from now.

But it is hot, isn't it! In fact, it's too hot to finish this... 1955