Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
For those of you who are in the cold part of the world that read my column, I have a quick question: are you ready for spring?
It has been over three years since we’ve had this sort of winter, and yes I know that it is what winter is all about, but it seems it has bothered me more this year than previous times. I still wouldn’t trade the changing seasons for any place else. Ohio, Kentucky and a few other states are blessed, as we don’t have to worry about things that other states do.
At the present time eastern Kentucky is being overpowered with flooding. I turned my computer on as usual in the wee hours of Sunday morning to the terrible and heartbreaking news of Letcher, Harlan, and too many counties to recall. Our local television station showed the flooding in Harlan County, and was also saying Letcher County.
At the time I am really concerned about my niece Sue Hall, as her mobile home sits close to a small creek not far from Hemphill.
For some reason thoughts of days of old have been coming to mind.
As I opened a can of Carnation Cream to make a bowl of snow cream, I think of the ways that Mommy and Grandma used this precious item, although Mom used Wilson also.
Mom made gravy with the canned milk, putting a little canned milk in her biscuits and anything else that required milk, as for years there was no refrigeration.
Commodities came available to some people. Dad and Mom were never eligible, or never tried to get them as Daddy worked in the coalmines. They ran a tab at Amburgey’s JC Burke’s Store and paid the bill at the end of the week.
Sometimes someone would give Mom a box of dried milk, and Mom was really pleased with that as she would use it in her biscuits. Mom somehow found out how to mix the powdered milk with water, then add a small amount of buttermilk and let it clabber (sour), to make more buttermilk. Mommy was so pleased to learn this trick.
In the commodities were blocks of cheese, and that was gold as some people would get two boxes and would sell them for a bit of money. Mom was never lucky enough to get that, as she had no money to buy any cheese with.
As thoughts travel back in time, I think of all the hard ways Mommy and other women had of raising their families in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Take baby diapers for instance, there was nothing like disposable diapers! You had a square piece of white cloth called Birdseye diapers. I seem to recall in later years a long white diaper, I don’t recall the name of it, and I do know it was a little thicker than the Birdseye type.
Now there was no running water or modern conveniences, as we have today to wash the soiled diapers, no matter how cold you had to wash them, the same with doing regular laundry,
I have to really laugh when I read of people writing about television back in the 1950s having only three channels. In the little place called Roxana I don’t believe many people had such a thing called a television, or at least my parents or grandma didn’t.
Furthermore I read of people writing about what they ate as a child, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches, and I didn’t know what these were until I was about 13 years old and started staying away from home. The same with bologna sandwiches. “Light bread” was a luxury if Dad could afford it to make him a sandwich to carry to the mines.
Mom would sometimes have salt pork, which was called fat back, left over from breakfast. When we got hungry we would put a piece of the fatback in between a torn open biscuit and that was our sandwich. Back in the day even in the summertime, I don’t remember Mom ever having such a thing as a BLT sandwich.
Saturday evening as I started to prepare a pot of pinto beans for our Old Time Fiddlers Sunday, once again thoughts returned of Mom and childhood days. How many of you look through your beans and wash them before you start cooking them? How many will clean all the black spots of salmon before you make salmon patties?
There’s been such a flu epidemic all over. Thank God so far I have been lucky, and all I developed was a severe respiratory infection. I don’t have time to be sick and really haven’t let the upchucking that comes with gastroparesis completely stop me from going, although my footsteps have slowed considerably.
My daughter Angie Wiederhold is facing back surgery in a few weeks. She has been in so much pain that she is almost delirious. I have been running back and forth to do everything I can for her.
Thursday afternoon I stopped by to go to the store for Angie, and then my sidekick Bennie and I took two bags of garbage out back to the Dumpster. As I placed the bags in the trunk of my car there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. I pinched a little snow between my fingertips and threw it on Bennie.
When I got around back to the dumpster, there was an enormous amount of clean white snow pushed to the edge of the parking lot. I was getting the bags out and Bennie covered me with snowballs, and the snowball fight began between a 72-year-old mamaw and an 11-year-old grandson.
I wouldn’t throw but tiny bits as I didn’t want to get him wet, but he didn’t care how many he was plastering me with. He was so pleased to do something like this. It only lasted for a few minutes but oh what a simple pleasure for both Bennie and me. Bennie told his mother Angie that was the best fun he had ever had.
I am very sorry to hear of Hayward Day being very sick. I believe Ann Calihan said Hayward has pneumonia. Kim Day, make your dad behave and take care of him.
Johnny and Ann Calihan’s daughter Sue Wagner is finally out of the hospital. Sue was in for a few days in a serious situation, but Johnny and Ann aren’t able to travel that far by plane or car.
Sue’s husband Tom Wagner’s parents live not far from me. Tom’s dad is in the hospital with a serious injury, and Tom’s mother isn’t able to do much. When you are caught between a husband or wife who is ill, and both parents in dire conditions, I know firsthand how horribly heartbreaking that situation is.
Oh how I long for warm weather to get here so I can go visit Doyle and Betty Ison and sit and relax for a short time looking over the hillside at the beautiful view as far as the eyes can see.
My sympathy goes to the family of Les and Pat Wagner in the sudden loss of Pat’s niece. This family has seen their share of heartaches in the five years that I have known them.
Les and Pat haven’t been to Haddix Hall to see Tony Hale and Blackwater in sometime, and I haven’t either. Maybe before long we can all get together.
Sunday was Old Time Fiddlers meeting, and we had a small crowd since the weather was predicted to being freezing rain in certain areas. The music was wonderful. When Warren, Judy Waldron, and James Hurst walk into a room you know there’s going to be good music, along with our other musicians.
I fixed a pot of pinto beans and a pone of cornbread. Once again my crockpot was full when I left home and empty when I brought it back. Either the beans were good or everyone was hungry! There were lots of desserts also.
I even danced a slow dance thanks to Lenny Kuntz, a faithful member, though Lenny said his knees were cracking. I really hope Hayward Day and his beautiful daughter Kim can join us next month.
Sunday, my granddaughter Jodi Gray met with several of her bridesmaids. I wasn’t able to go since I had Old Time Fiddlers, so I don’t know any details.
For those in Letcher County and surroundings area, I hope you are safe. My thoughts are with you.
Malcolm Wilson posted pictures of Elk and Bull Creek, and Blackey. I think Bull Creek or Elk Creek is close to where you go to Mike and Marcia Caudill’s.
I received a very sweet letter from someone I knew as a child at Mill Branch School. Shirley June Whitaker was several grades ahead of me as she is a few years older. Shirley June was one of the lucky ones who had the means to go to high school and college, and make a good life for herself. Shirley June was a teacher for several years.
Sometimes I still resent the fact that somehow I was one of those young girls that was lost between the cracks, with no one caring enough to see that I was in school. Then I have to take a step back and be proud of my accomplishments. I may not have a formal education but I do have a GED. At least God gave me something called common sense and a will to survive, a fighting spirit, a hard head, and a soft heart.
When I take a look at my children and my grandchildren and what they have become, oh yes I will always feel bad for myself. I don’t really dwell on it, as I am too busy being proud.
I’m proud that I am still able to stand on my own two feet, not depending on a man, woman, or family to take care of or abuse me.
Well that old clock is chasing me, so I better get this on its way. Until next time, Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Rd., Harrison, Ohio 45030.