Whitesburg KY

I’m going back to age 12

Well, I’m over 70 now, and I don’t want to be. I’m tired. In my mind, I’m still 19. I’d rather be 12 again, and go back to the good times. I want to go back to a time when I didn’t have to worry about bills, car repairs, the roof leaking or major illness. I want to get up in the morning with nothing hurting me. I’d like to go to bed and sleep 10 hours straight, and then play tag and hide and seek and cowboys and Indians all day.

There are many things I’d like to do again. I’d like to go fishing in the river, just below the Mill Dam in Shagtown. (For you who don’t know where Shagtown is, it’s on the hill just above the swimming pool and grade school, where the housing project is.) I’d like to sit on the rock-walled graveyard and watch a Whitesburg football game on a Friday night.

I had a scooter in Graveyard Hollow. I’d ride it every day. Back then, it was a long way from the head to the mouth of the hollow, but I could ride it all the way without falling off. When I wore the wheels off, I’d go to the Whitesburg trash dump (they dumped the trash in the river, below the Mill Dam, just below the Kentucky River bridge at Caudilltown) and find a worn-out tricycle or wagon and take the wheels off it.

I had friends I’d see every day. We’d fight one day and play together the next. I want to go back and catch bees with my hands and put them in a jar. I want to play outside until it’s so dark we couldn’t see, and there were no street lights. (I’ve walked home in the dark from the movie theater in Blackey, and couldn’t see any farther than my nose, feeling my way with a stick in the ditch line.)

I’d like to draw a ring in the dirt on the ground, get on my knees, and play a game of marbles. Oh, what fun it was. Kids today don’t know how to have fun. All they care about are their little electronic games. They don’t know how to get along with others, and won’t learn. All they’re exercising are their fingers.

If we ran out of games to play, we invented one. An empty refrigerator box provided hours of fun. I’d like to ride my bicycle all over Blackey one more time. I want to walk up the ridge to the top of the mountain, to what was called “High Rocks”, then keep on going until I see Nando Cornett’s farm with its many apple trees, split log fence, and log cabin. I’d like to sit in the floor with Martha Sue Cornett and play 45 RPM records and pop dishpans full of popcorn.

I’d like to sit on the rock wall in front of the library on the Stuart Robinson campus, and watch the boys and girls pass “love notes” to each other. I’d like for Calvary Campus to rebuild that rock wall. I want to run to the dining hall on Wednesday, when they served their delicious chili and rice. I want to dance with the Folk Games team, and go on another trip through North Carolina with them.

I’d like to hear Brewie Fouts preach another sermon in his church in a concrete block building across from the upper railroad crossing in Blackey. I’d like to hear “Bootleg” Adams testify again. I’d like to hear Tom Boring preach again.

So many things I would like to do and see again, but I can’t. I want to forget about the war I was in, the war we’re now in, and the war that is to come. I’m now a senior citizen. I’m not going to just sit down, retire, and do nothing. You’ll still see me at reunions, funerals, festivals, and here in The Mountain Eagle, until the Lord calls me home.

Maybe I’ll catch Alzheimer’s, and I can be 12 again in my mind. Until then, I’ll just keep on being “me” and try to finish five more books I have planned. Stop in and see me at my booth in the Mountain Heritage Festival. Let’s talk about the good times — the way it used to be — before we got this old.

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