Tuesday, August 30

This Is No Place For Lady, But Fine For Tramp

It's always a boost to the morale to get a letter such as has been received from Mr. and Mrs. Edward Nunn, Edward Nunn Jr., and Miss Emma Lee Nunn, now of Chicago. They were spurred to write when they read in a Chicago newspaper that Perry County hasn't sold a single dog license this year because there were none to sell. The letter follows:

"Dear Sir; I was most pleased and surprised when I read the Chicago American newspaper this evening. My husband and I and our small son left Hazard in September 1950. Since then, we have made our home here in Chicago, spending only a week a year in Hazard.

In the Chicago American on the second page was this item titled, "This Is No Place For Lady but Fine for Tramp." It was very amusing and enlightening after a hard days work. It told of the trouble Sheriff Bill Cornett was having getting dog tags for the canines in Hazard. Also it mentioned the fact that the dog warden had quit because there was no pay for him.

It brought a smile for all of us. Even though it was only a small paragraph about dogs, it brought home close to us for a while, and I thought I'd let you know that even though Hazard is only a small town, we still think of it as home. To have our town mentioned in a newspaper of a large city was very heart warming. We all lived in Walkertown." 1955

Monday, August 29

Small Fry Taking To The Water

There is a story from Louisville about the first of 13 new passenger coaches bought by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad being placed on display at Union Station in that city. Along with the $143,000 light weight steel coach will be an obsolete coach which cost $9,000 in 1913. The new coach will be placed in service on the South Wind, a Chicago - Louisville - Miami streamliner.

I wish the L & N would take that new coach around its territory, including Hazard so that we could see what other people ride. We know that 1913 Coach very well.

Up at Bobby Davis Memorial Park Sunday afternoon I joined a goodly crowd to watch the swimming show directed by Miss Mary Chloe Cisco, swimming instructor. A lot of little fellows dared the diving board and performed their acts apparently unabashed by the spectators. And there really were some small fry in that show.

I never learned to swim 40 yards, even though I was a Boy Scout. Now, I see tots taking to the water like fish, and I wish I had it all to do over again. Swimming is a good sport and it lends courage to an individual. But I never took it up.

Miss Cisco had large classes at the pool this summer, and the Sunday show told the results of her ability to teach. 1955

Friday, August 19

You Slapped Her First

It seems that our former magistrate Sam Campbell bought himself a six year old mare not too long ago. Folks, you know Sam is no longer a spring chicken. I would say he is knocking around the 70''s or better. It seems the first night Sam brought this mare home, he was fixing her a place in the stable. His young grandson, Bill, age 10, wanted to see everything well done. It seems that Sam wanted the mare to move over to one side of the stable. It seems that the mare didn't want to move, so she ups and slaps Big Sam with a kick on the knee. Little Bill ups and states, "Pap Paw, you asked for it. You slapped her first." Sam, I would say - do your slapping on mares from now on out of the sight of your grandson. If she wasn't a saddle mare, I wonder what you wanted with her, Sam. I am confident that you're not going to do too much plowing.

Maybe the reason you bought her is to keep the old family tradition as you knew it all your life, that is to have at least one horse or mule around the place. Of course you could have been wanting to show little Bill a few things of your boyhood days. I would say this wouldn't have been a very bad idea. I often wonder that so many of our youngsters that are growing up today would know how to place the bits in a horse's mouth, or the saddle on it's back. Much less placing a set of gears on one. That was the hardest thing for me to learn. 1958

Thursday, August 18

Raised On Cornbread & Trouble

I knew a family by the name of Ray. Among them I can recall such names an Manuel, Wallace, Quentin, their mother and father. I can recall all the happy moments I spent in their mist.

Of course they wandered from the hills of Leslie County many years ago, which they called home. Not too long ago, I heard from this family, as they state it, they are still country boys, ridge runners or whatever people want to call them, but their heart is here in the mountains where they were raised on cornbread and trouble. I would say this would be a good diet as long as it will produce people such as the Ray family.

Yes folks, they are old timers, but living in another city. Before modern plumbing, bathrooms and etc, we use to call it an outhouse or privey, along came the slop jar, which was the old day version of it. Today they call it a cabinet. Regardless of what name they give it, as long as they keep making it. It is still a long trek to the out house when it is two above zero. 1958

Wednesday, August 17

Best People On Earth

Mrs. Vara England, of Kansas City, Missouri recalls the days that she resided here in Hazard before there was any side walks and streets. She was really surprised a couple of years ago when she visited here again. She happens to be some more of my kin folks, sister-in-law, Vara, it's funny you are not the only one that has ever been in these mountains that hasn't thought of them many times. From the many people I talk to and hear from, they can always recall so many things that happened to them during their stay in our area.

It was nice seeing Jesse Denham during a recent visit back in Hazard. Jesse has retired from the railroad, now living in Lexington. He said, "I just have to come back now and then where the best people on earth live."

To you Jess Collins, thanks for the Polk of Horehound candy that you fetched. It was good. I even introduced it to some of my neighbor kids. They like it also. Been a long time since I have seen any of it. I can recall the days when, the old folks use to make cough syrup from it. Folks, it's a funny thing to me that now and then you will see some company start making the old time things again such as the candy I mentioned, old clay smoking pipes, cast iron kettles, coffee grinders. They may not be right up to what the originals were. Ho me, it says someone in one of these factories never forgot his raisin.'

I never have been accused of being a farmer, although I have broken up several clods of dirt in my life time, also a few hoe handles. I recall that one hoe handle I broke just about half way. I had to hoe the rest of the seasons with that one. I felt like the hunchback of Notre Dame before that season was over. I just about had to get on my knees at times. I was a the age then of a big long legged gangling boy that would do anything to get out of work.

Podge Moore states that he came to Perry County to fill his barrel, then retire to some other area. I have found so many that have tried the same thing. Podge, my suggestion would be regardless of where you make your abode or try to fill your barrel, leave a little of it behind in the community that you are trying to make your stake in, because remember that the next generation is following along in your foot steps. Why not try to leave something to give them a start on. Such as our forest, streams, and all other things that God placed upon this earth for us to use wisely. I am speaking of the changes I have seen since I was a kid running up and down these river banks, when our streams were clear, never heard of the word pollution. I hope to see them run clear again. 1958

Tuesday, August 16

Hard Working Mountain People

Uncle Noah Couch was Granny's brother and my memories of him are as strong today as they were when I was making them riding in the back of his old "jolt" wagon filled with produce from his garden up on Bluegrass. He let me ride shotgun I reckon and I thought I was the "berries" and I would count out the ears of corn, etc. and when he let me off the wagon at the end of the day with him, I was tired and watched him ride out of sight til the next time.

Oh, the stories he had in his head and could relate to us youngans were awesome, most of them were true, but he called them "tales". They had dinner on the ground once a year up at his house in the holler there at Blue Grass and it was to honor the ones of the family that had passed. It was a huge gathering and lasted most of the day. You talk about good "grub", I don't think you could mention an item that was not found on the tables that were loaded with good home cookin'.

One thing I remember though was the sad, plaintive songs they would sing when the singing "commenced". We were very young but it stung our heartstrings to hear what was going on above us. We played in the area below the shelter built for this event, but I still can hear the sad voices that blended, without music, as they lifted their thanks to God and sent their love on the country breeze blowing in that holler.

What a time for remembering and their way of rendering honor to those gone from the clan, and giving thanks for those still living. Just writing about it brings tears for they were hard-working mountain people who loved and gave lots of it to family and friends. God gave me the best of the best.

Monday, August 15

Trials & Tribulations

I can recall Fred Couch over Big Creek way. The first time that I really knew him was on a train ride up this valley from Lexington. Fred, I believe had his first operation. I enjoyed that trip along with his good wife. It was a night trip, as many of you recall the passenger trip by train was an ordeal. I really enjoyed this one. To me, Fred was the type of man that really loved and enjoyed his family, even his son in laws and daughter in laws.

I can recall Uncle Noah Couch. Many a good story I have heard come from him back in the days of trials and tribulations. I often wonder how many of us today could have traveled the trail that he did. It was a pleasure to have known men of his type, rugged to have been able to have taken the hardships that he must have encountered during his days on the river in all types of weather. From what I can learn, the men that manned the rafts down the Kentucky River toward Hazard, encountered everything from foul weather to storms, ice, high water and etc. 1958

Friday, August 12

Gleam In His Eye

This past Sunday morning, I received a knock on my door before I had hardly gotten out of bed, about the same time I received the knock, the phone rang. After clearing everything away from the phone call, I ventured to the door still in my pajamas, there to find none other than my old friend Brooks Deaton from over Blue Diamond way. Noticed Brooks had sorta a gleam in his eye. I was sure something had happened to him. Sure enough fellows, it had. Brooks brought out of his car a 36" catfish weighing 20 pounds that he had caught on a rod and reel down Lake Cumberland way, to be exact on Rockcastle River. Brooks stated he caught it on a live minnow about five inches long. Brooks, I don't blame you for being happy over this catch. I dare say that you have accomplished something that many would like to do on a trot line, much less catching this size fish using a rod and reel, above all, on a small crappie size hook. Brooks, I know you have been trying for a long time to get one of this size. Incidentally, Brooks lost another one, he thought could have been as big, of course bigger, because it broke his line. 1957

Thursday, August 11

Horehound Candy

A few days ago, none other than Rufe "Doug" Vermillion approached me on a subject, which went something like this. "Why in the world don't the stores of today serve cheese and crackers? Where is brown sugar on crackers which I took for granted would be the desert?" Well, I can remember those big lumps of brown sugar. They came in a very large barrel. The many times I sneaked around my dad's counters in his store in Hazard to pick out the big lumps, also with a few sticks of Horehound Candy, the type the old folks made cough syrup from. I recall sucking many a stick of it, along with a few peppermint ones on the side. I always preferred the latter because it was never used as a medicine. 1957

Wednesday, August 10


Folks, I always like to write about the happy moments of our lives and the things we do. But time changes this, to where I must write about some of the sad things of this life.

Azelle King passed away. I know this will be a shock to so many of you that attended school with him. Also all of you that knew him as a fair haired boy with a big smile while he worked in our local drug stores. He went into the service during World War II, developed paralysis, which he could never over come. He was residing in Chico, California since his release from the army. He was a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Strong of this City. You that knew him can never forget that pleasant look and smile he always had to greet you with. Azelle never forgot Hazard and the friends he had made here. In his letters, he always asked about home. 1957

Tuesday, August 9

Hazard's Little Pavilion

I've watched Aunt Laura and Mom grit and gasped when their knuckles got too close to the gritter, but they'd holler a little and go right ahead because at that time they would grit a dishpan full of corn to make gritted cornbread and cream style corn. Good fixins' and I still do it today but very carefully. My son loves to grit the corn and make the cream style corn and he fixes it for us when we all get together. My gritter is still a big part of my kitchen utensils.

The old swimmin' hole that I remember so well was at the back of Ma Brewer's house there on Maple Street. Yep, we called it, of course, "The Brewer Hole". That is where I used my first sand bucket and shovel; I grew up goin' daily during the hot summer to Ma Brewer's and cutting down by her house and took the path that led to The Brewer Hole. It was always crowded; I never learned to swim but would hang my toes off'n a rock and let the little minnows nibble at them; oh, we had grapevine swings too there on our little beach; I loved watching the older boys and girls swinging and them jumping off into the water; we had added attractions. The old saw mill was across the river and some of the kids would swim off, jump into the shavings, woller around, get all coated and then jump back into the water; and then several times during the day the train would come by, blow its whistle at us all, and the engineer would wave and go on down the line. You might say The Old Brewer Hole was Hazard's little pavilion for back then offering, swimmin', sand, sawmill shavings, grapevine swings, and a wave from the engineer of the old L & N making its daily rounds. Yep, it was a day full of good, clean fun and if we were lucky, Mark Hampton would come down the river with one of his big turtles he caught almost everyday. Proud as a peacock he was of his catch and he told me and Daddy that the meat that they got from the big turtle was mouth-slappy good.

I remember with fondness the days of the old Brewer Hole and the gritted knuckles....

Monday, August 8

Shoot, They Ain't No Wind In Here

1928 was a good year for Carr Creek. Their high school basketball team made history. Noted for playing barefoot in cutoff overalls and not having a gymnasium at school, practicing outside on a dirt court, they finished second in the big State Tournament in Lexington. Richmond fans had furnished them real uniforms and gym shoes to make them equal to the competition. After that they continued on to the National H/S Tournament in Chicago, where they finally lost in the Quarterfinals. A great accomplishment for the poor Eastern Kentucky team that were all cousins.

But that is not all of the story.
In Dayton, Ohio, 1928, the Stivers High School basketball team won the Ohio State Tournament. They featured the gigantic "Wild Bill Hosket" who later went on to Ohio State and became their first "big man" at seven feet tall.

During that time, Si Burick was a young sports reporter with the Dayton Daily News, who had graduated earlier from Stivers. Stivers won the State Tournament 3 years in a row.

In 1930 the Dayton Daily News promoted an exhibition game between Carr Creek and Stivers at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Dayton. It was a big event.
In later years Burick always wrote an article about this game on his Sports Page annually. There was one specific incident he loved to talk about.

During the shoot around before the game started, Si was was all over interviewing each player of the famous Carr Creek team. He noticed one of the boys over in the corner shooting set shots. He counted 8 in a row. Interrupting the player to compliment him on his shooting ability the young man replied: "Shoot, they ain't no wind in here."

That's the way basketball fans in Dayton remembered Carr Creek, Kentucky.

Friday, August 5


A few days ago a piece of tin stretched on a board with a lot of holes punched into it brought a lot of questions in regard to what it was. These gritters are on display in the window of Davis Brothers on Main Street in Hazard. Folks, in the olden days people used to use this thing to make gritted bread. They would take an ear of corn and rake it up and down on this contraption. Some like it of the Rousner type corn while it was soft. Others like it medium, and others like it well done, when the corn got well and dry, yes the mule eating stage. A few of us have the teeth this day and time to try and work this over. But with the gritted variety, you can handle it with your store bought teeth. Many of you thought we had bought these from a manufacturer. The ones you noticed were made by none other than Ruf "Doug" Vermillion. The large one you saw was made for Dewey Daniel. Slim Hollon states that Dewey left all the gritting up to John Flat Williams. This I can't say I will blame him because if you haven't done it for some time, I would be willing to leave it up to someone else. A gritter can play havoc on your knuckles if you fail to make the right stroke. Not only will you bark your knuckles, but also the palm of your hand can take a real skinning. This is just a word of warning in regard to you amateurs that are just starting out on your first mess of gritted bread. Since these gritters appeared to be the fetched on type, we have had many inquiries in regard to gritted bread. I would appreciate hearing from some of you old timers in regard to the way you make yours. I have talked to several in regard to it. It seems that many of you use a different formula in preparing gritted bread. I have one that I usually forget from one year to another. Sometimes it works out fine and others, "Not so good." It seems the out house is farther away after eating a good bit of it. I have had a few messes of this type. 1957

Thursday, August 4

The Old Swimming Hole

I was talking to Manuel Cornett the other day. Manual says he recalls the old swimming hole, what was known as the deep hole just above the Lothair railroad bridge. Boys, how well I remember it. I can remember those swimming suits in those days, we tied our britches into knots. By Granny, I for one have been thinking about everything else but the old swimming hole. 1957

Wednesday, August 3

D. K. Ritchie

Not too long ago I mentioned D. K. Ritchie. When I was a small boy, he was Chief of Police in Hazard. D. K. loved the outdoors, he loved to hunt. In the fall he was on a squirrel hunting trip. At the time, his brother, Dr. S. M. Ritchie, age 82, was trying to kill himself a deer. To me, it is remarkable that men of their age are still pursing the hunts of their boyhood days. D. K. was always kind to us kids when he was on the police force in Hazard. Memories like this you never forget. I wouldn't even want to try to forget them. 1957

Tuesday, August 2

Rich or Poor

Dr. Britt Combs served the people of Eastern Kentucky for many many years. Yes, maybe more than he should have been called upon to do. I had known him since a small boy, rending the services of his profession. Rich or poor, it made no difference to him. In fact many that had no fees to offer. He is missed by so many that were sick and afflicted. 1957