Whitesburg KY
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Keepsakes bring memories of grandmother

Southern Ohio


Merry Christmas, everyone!

I realize I may be a little early, I just wanted to see how it felt to see the words. Christmas came early for me this year, thanks to Gladys Whitaker Hogg of Frostproof, Fla. Gladys is a good mountain girl from Big Branch close to Roxana. Gladys knew my great-grandparent, Will and Nance Coots.

Gladys became a teacher in 1935. With her first payday Gladys bought Ma Coots, Nance, a pipe. Somehow before Ma Coots died in 1944, she gave the pipe back to Gladys.

Sometime Ma Coots had given Gladys a little bowl. This bowl doesn’t have any special markings, except it is a very oldlooking bowl. Actually it is about 100 years old. As I said, Christmas came early as the mailman brought a package to me. Gladys sent me the pipe and bowl along with a beautiful handwritten letter. Thank you, Gladys, from the bottom of my heart.

I decided to take the pipe and bowl to show my friends. Ann and Johnny Calihan, as Johnny also knew Ma Coots when he was young. As I rang the doorbell the pipe slipped out of the bowl. I am thankful to God Ann had placed a silk flower arrangement at her door. The pipe slid into the softness of the flowers. Had it hit the cement porch all that would have been left were the memories. The bowl and pipe will not leave their resting place of my china closet again.

My sincere sympathy once again to Junior Calihan’s family. I know he will be missed by everyone.

My sympathy goes out to the Whitaker family once again in the loss of a loved one. Hiram Ray Whitaker lost his beloved Mildred Whitaker.

I met Mildred a few months ago while visiting my sister, Loretta Church. Mildred was in the room with her. Hiram Ray came to Letcher Manor to take Mildred to Pine Mountain Grill for breakfast. Mildred’s death comes really close to that of my little mountain mama Alma Whitaker.

There’s so much sadness as my friend, Gwen Huff Farmer, and family lost their brother, Gary Huff. My sincere sympathy goes out to the Huff family.

Gwen’s grandson, John Harding Farmer, and his wife and children had been visiting Gwen from Arkansas when she received word of Gary’s death. John went back to Arkansas then came back to Illinois and drove Gwen to Cumberland so she could be with her family for the funeral.

My sympathy goes out to the family of Letrell Hampton. I remember Letrell when I was a young girl. He and Relon were friends with my uncle, Charles Barton.

Belated happy birthday to Kayla Laxton, who turned 21 years old Nov. 16. Kayla is the only child of Mary and the granddaughter of Shirley Wells.

Kayla had a special request. She wanted her uncle, Buddy Wells, to take her out partying when she reached the ripe old age of 21! Buddy, Kristie, Dotty, Loretta and Shirley took Kayla to Rafferty’s for supper. There was a lot of celebrating with her aunts, uncle, and grandmother.

Grandma Shirley has been out of circulation for much too long. I don’t think she can take too much partying! A good time was had by everyone!

Belated happy birthday to Janey Whitaker, who did double celebrating as her birthday was Thanksgiving Day! Janey is the daughter of Genita Calihan of my favorite place, “Paradise Valley” Paices Branch.

One of my friends can’t understand why I love that part of the mountains so much. The reason she gave for not liking it is the very reason I love it! The peace and quiet, plus that part of the mountains holds so many memories of hearing my mom, Ora Adams Hall, talk of walking across the mountain from Big Branch to Paices Branch to go to a square dance at Nora Calihan’s in the very house that Genita Calihan lives in.

A couple of years ago when I visited Junior Calihan in Pacies Branch I could close my eyes and hear Mommy talking about her growing-up years, how hard she would work through the week, helping her dad, Ben Adams, keep house and raising her younger brothers and sisters along with working in the fields.

Come Saturday evening Mommy would beg Poppy to let her go to Nora and Lloyd Calihan’s as a square dance was planned. After promising she wouldn’t be gone all night as he needed her the next day, Mom and several more would start the long hike up the hills and valleys. After an evening of good clean fun, they had to walk back across that mountain in the dark. I wonder if the fear of snakes, or wild animals ever entered their minds. At least back then there was not the threat of being attacked, and much worse!

The Calihan family has been immortalized in my heart and soul because Nora was like a second mother to Mommy. After Mom married my dad, Clayton Hall, who didn’t dance, her dancing days were over as the role of wife and mother became in existence. The love of dancing and music never left Mother’s memories. She would tell of calls of the square dances, such as winding up the grapevine, then around that couple take a little peek, back in the center and swing your sweet, meaning your partner!

Mom used her love of dancing to release lots of feelings that are called stress now. Nowadays when we dance we make sure all parts of the body wiggle and jiggle. Back then the most important parts of your body were your feet and an outstretched arm to grasp your partner as you made your way through the rigid calls of square dancing. There were no frilly dresses nor fancy shirts for the men, just clean, hard, oldfashioned fun.

I have a special couple who celebrated their wedding anniversary a few days ago. Doyle and Merlene Day are partly responsible for these memories along with Ann Calihan. Merlene Davis Day’s father, Thurston Davis, was described by Mommy as one of the best dancers that ever hit the floor. Mom would say Thurston could pick them up and set them down, referring to Thurston’s feet.

Belated happy anniversary to Bill and Mary Halcomb of Hamilton, Ohio.

My granddaughter, Jodi Gray, is home with her parents, Kay and Clarence Gray, for the holidays. Jodi is a freshman at Ohio University, where she is studying to become a teacher. Am I proud? You bet your boots.

Gene and Brenda Caudill of Florida send a big hello to his friends and family and to the Harrison area for Brenda’s family also. Gene is complaining how cold it is in Florida. I told him very nicely I didn’t want to hear!

My brother, Richie Hall, had an all-night party in his garage as Wanda’s brother, Darrell, put a transmission in their car. Wanda is back in business again.

Wanda is a very special person, not only because she is Richie’s wife. This woman has more energy, as she works long hours and she takes such good care of Richie and their son, Derrick. Better watch her when she is sleepy, though. Richie asked her to make a pot of coffee for him and Darrell while they were working on the car. Wanda made the coffee, sat out what she thought was the sugar, and went to bed. It was cornmeal she had pulled out of the cabinet. Richie said it was a good thing he noticed when he opened the canister.

My sister, Loretta Church, is doing all right at Letcher Manor. Her daughter ,Sue Hall, is going to have a telephone hooked up for her.

My brother, Wallace Lee Hall, and Georgia have been having quite a bit of company as Georgia’s sister, Daisy, and their brother come to visit them and sing and play music.

Thanks to Marie Back from Lexington for her remedy for my leg cramps, and Patsy Howard of Georgia. Marie, you said to get a bottle of Schweppes tonic water, and drink some before I go to bed. I wonder if a little ‘shine would help better.

Hello to my two favorite readers, Levine Jones of Bristol, Tenn., and Bruce Jones of Ingrams Creek. I hope you along with everyone who reads enjoyed Thanksgiving.

I received a call from Merlene Davis Day. It was a pleasure talking to her. Merlene is involved with the Historical Society in Letcher County.

Gwen’s son, John Farmer, was pleased to see the picture of him and his deer. John didn’t know my love for deer. I hate to see them killed, however I do not condemn anyone for hunting. Deer are so dangerous when overpopulated.

Hello, Betty and Doyle Ison. Sorry I haven’t been in touch. Seems I never get anything done since I have been watching my grandbaby, little Bennie.

Shirley Hall called to ask how would I like to have three little ones living with me full time. No thanks!

I was singing the Barney song to little Bennie. When I sang the part “Won’t you say you love me too?” the little squirt shook his head no. My brother, Richie, got a kick out of that!

I received a very nice letter from Ray Lewis of Gordon. Ray sent me a copy of the Kingdom Come freshman class that was in Kentucky Explorer, along with all the names of the students. Ray informed me of three of our classmates that have died, Renevae Sparkman, Ivon Fields, and Doug Halcomb.

Ray tells me he was a teacher for several years, and then went to building houses. Thank you, Ray, for being so thoughtful.

Until next time. Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030, email Bluegrassmama4@aol.com, (513) 367-4682.


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