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Father's Day Tribute to my dad at
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"There's Good News"
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(Written in 1967)
This true life story
begins in the year of 1905 in the mountains of Kentucky, the country
that is surrounded by small mountains where the pure air and clean
springs of water flow continuously. The large stream is called
I was second of a
family of eleven, five boys, four girls and our parents.
My father and mother
were very industrious and adhered to strictly clean living.
My father was one of
his fatherís family to remain on the five hundred-acre farm he was
raised on. As I remember, there were three houses on the farm about
a quarter of a mile apart.
At the age of five, we
lived in a two story log house, but my birth place was approximately
fifty miles away in Hindman, the county seat of Knott County,
The memory I have of
the house that I can first remember was a very beautiful place with
a large apple orchard extending to the bank of Cowan Creek.
I remember my mother
would tie a string to a paper shoe box, and I would haul apples from
the orchard to the house; and I enjoyed it very much.
To entertain the
family at Christmas time, my father would buy fire crackers; and
after dark he would stand in front of the house, light fire crackers
and throw them and possibly getting as much fun out of it as we
were. But an end came to the fun when he let a fire cracker explode
in his hand. I can remember his groans as he walked up and down in
the orchard. It made a lasting impression on me.
Just a few hundred
yards from the house was a bend in the creek, and it caused the
water to carve out a hole in the bed of the creek that made us a
nice swimming pool.
My brother and I went
up there one evening. It was a really warm day, but the sky was
kind of cloudy. As it was on the farm and a private place, we
didnít use bathing suits; for there was no one around to see us.
We were having a great
time splashing around in the water when it began to get cloudy and
darker, and the thunder began roll. But we were not concerned or
scared until we heard our mother call at the top of her voice and it
sounded like she was worried. She was calling for us to come at
once as there was a storm coming up. All excited, we got out of the
water and grabbed our clothes and never took time to put them on, as
we were scared so badly.
We ran as fast as we
could. I outran my brother, and I was calling to him to run for his
life. When we got to the house, I saw that Mother had company; and
I was so embarrassed that I hid under the bed until I could get my
Another incident I
remember that touched me was when my mother was reading a letter
about some sad incident that had happened to someone, and I was
crying. She asked me what I crying about as she didnít realize I
could understand what she was reading.
My father was a very
ambitious man. He was always trying to make improvements, and at
this particular time, he had some men helping him build a bridge
over the creek so we could get to the main road when the creek was
up. Without anyone noticing, I climbed on the pole behind the men.
For some reason after men got off the pole, the foundation slipped
and I was sent into the air thirty or forth feet turning over and
over. But as the good Lord would have it, He had a large pool of
water for me to land in.
My father made a dive
in the water to rescue me; I guess expecting the worst. It was a
very cold day, and he carried me to the house. I remember he asked
if I was hurt, and I said I was hurt all over; but it was being cold
that I was feeling like I was hurt. If it hadnít been for the pool
of water, I possibly wouldnít be writing this.
We lived a short
distance from the school house, and this is something I donít
remember so clearly. In fact, I never tried very hard to remember
it. My mother said she could look up the road most any time of the
day and see me coming home. I didnít have any reason to come home
and didnít get a permit from the teacher, but I possibly didnít see
any reason to stay at school.
My fatherís brother
was a police officer in Stonega, Virginia; and my father got a job
as shop foreman in the same town, so he moved us all to Virginia.
Before we moved or after we moved (I donít remember which), I recall
I made a trip with a friend of the family who was also a relative.
He drove a team of mules with a wagon loaded with something, and it
took all day. I would run along behind the wagon and get on what
was called the tongue of the wagon. It would spring up and down,
and I enjoyed it very much.
But the main incident
that would seem odd if it were practiced today (In fact, I doubt if
you would last long if you practiced it today as the water is
polluted more now): At noon time, he stopped to eat lunch. We were
along beside a small creek larger than the one at home. He took his
tin cup down to the creek and dipped a cup of water out of the creek
to drink while eating his lunch. I donít remember if I drank any or
not, but I thought it wasnít sanitary.
The next thing I
remember is we were all going to Virginia, and it was night when we
got into town. It was the first time I had ever seen electric
lights; but somehow it didnít excite me as it seems it should have,
but maybe we were just tired and sleepy.
As we traveled on into
town, it seemed the whole world was lit up, and there were long rows
of holes belching fire and smoke into the air. I learned later that
they were coke ovens where they converted fine coal into coke to be
shipped to the steel mills to be used in the manufacture of steel.
We lived five years in
Virginia, in the same house; and by this time my brother who was two
years older than I came into my life of memory. We were very close
to one another.
We had a cousin that
was a conductor on the passenger train, and there was a station
right in front of our house. When the train would stop by brother,
Kerney, and I would get on the train and stay with it until it made
its complete run. They never did ask us for fare or tickets. They
would just smile and pass on by us.
One incident my
brother told on me was on the first day of school in Virginia.
Since he was older that I was we had to go to different rooms, and
the teacher wanted to know how old I was. I replied very loudly,
ďKerney, how old am I?Ē I donít remember if he told me; he didnít
say if he did or not.
My uncle that was a
police officer, lived next door to us, and I remember seeing him
chasing a black man down the railroad track. When he got opposite
his house, he stopped and came over to his. What seemed so strange
to me was that the man that he was chasing stopped too and asked my
uncle if he wanted him to wait on him. I didnít hear what my uncle
said, but the man just waited; and when my uncle came out he started
chasing him again. Many years after it happened, I asked my uncle
about it. He said he was just giving the man a chance to get out of
town and was pretending to chasing him.
We lived next to what
was called Hungarian town, and once a year they had what they called
Water Day. It was a holiday that the company allowed them to
celebrate. I never did know what it represented, but they would
throw water on anyone they could slip up on.
They had a lot of fun,
and I was standing at the edge of town watching someone pouring a
bucket of water from an upstairs window. I was holding my side
with laughter when I felt a flood of water go down my back. I
looked around and a Hungarian girl was doing the laughing. I
had to go home and change clothes.
Our father was afraid
we would get lost, so he got us two whistles so if we got lost from
one another we could blow the whistle and locate one another. He
also built us a track around the side of the hill (Some people might
call it a mountain.), and working in the shop he built us a car; and
we had lots of fun riding this car down the hill.
There are many
incidents in the five years spent in Virginia; the towns of Norton,
Roda, Appalachia, Dorchester, Big Stone Gap, etc., were interesting
Be sure to come back for the next
installment of Daddyís memories.
Click here for installment 2
Click here for Installment 3
Click here for Installment 4
Click here for Installment 5