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More precious memories



I am extending the story I wrote last week of my cousin Tannie, myself, her two brothers and my brother Jack Dempsey, her two brothers Colin and Victor Campbell. We got into some little mean things when we were still too young to be doing the things we did.

Grandpap George used to raise his own chewing tobacco, and he always cut it in the fall and hung it in the barn loft to dry. We slipped in there one day and decided we would try us a chew.

We all got some and ran to the boat in the big, deep hole of water, and we took some and chewed it. It was awful and we got tickled and then we all began to feel a little dizzy and sick at our stomach. We were really sick and paddling around in that boat. We started vomiting and were crying, and were scared to the inch of our lives.

Grandpap saw us and came to see what was wrong. Someone told him we had been chewing tobacco. He got mad at us and told us to get off of the boat and away from the deep water.

He made us go to the house and get in bed until we got better, which was a long time. He was about to whip us all, but we told him we would never steal from him again, and to please don’t whip us.

So he let us by with that bad thing. We didn’t want any more tobacco after that.

He told us we could have got drowned if we’d fallen out of the boat. That scared us even more. We were dizzy and drunk and so sick feeling.

Dad used to take us down there during Easter and we all loved to be together to hunt eggs. Tannie and I made a pact with each other. We would go swimming over Easter if we could be there. No matter how cold the water was, we would put on her brothers’ overalls and big shoes and step into the creek down where her dad lived.

They had a washhouse close to the creek and a big swinging bridge across the creek to the old schoolhouse. We would go over, across the bridge and go to the creek and get in, and we would wade it up to our necks.

We sure did it fast, because it was so cold. Then we ran to the washhouse and get our dry clothes back on. It was fun to do that. We didn’t let anyone know that we were doing that because we would have got into trouble.

One day we decided to go down the riverbank to a place where there was nothing but big rocks in the bed of the creek, and there was no houses close. We pulled off all of our clothes and hung them up in some bushes and went in swimming, playing on the rocks, and we had a good time talking and laughing. No worries or troubles to bother us.

We stayed a long time and got tired and decided to get out and get our clothes back on, but when we went to get them they were gone, and that scared us really bad. We hadn’t heard anyone or seen anyone go up the creek bank.

We kept hunting and fi- nally found them in another tree. Someone had heard us and found our clothes and hid them from us. I guess they were having more fun than we were.

We found out later who it was, and, boy, we gave him a good rigging. He knew Tannie’s brothers and her, and he wanted to scare us and laugh at us. It sure wasn’t funny to us.

Then later on, one time I went down there with some of our other cousins who were lots older than I was. They were Mom’s sister’s Louise’s children. We went down Linefork to Henry Halcomb’s home and my brother was with us this time.

We got there and the cousins knew a route across the hill close to the Halcomb farm. They took us through a mountain trail by the Little Cornett Farm, but we were on top of the big mountain. They would stop and let me and Jack rest. While we rested the boys would cut our initials on big beach trees. That was fun to us.

It would usually be Earl and Everett and Opal Halcomb. They were so good to us. They loved Mom so much they would come and stay weeks at a time and help work in Dad’s fields and Mom’s garden.

We walked all day across to Turkey Creek, then across another mountain to Aunt Louise’s home at the head of Long Branch, close to where the Campbell’s Branch School is now. It took us about 12 hours to get there.

Aunt Louisie was the kindest person I ever knew. When we got there she would want to know what we’d like to eat. I was always hungry for her canned strawberries. Oh! They were so good. She would get them for me.

She always had food cooked, and on the table, covered with a big, white cloth. It was good too.

She was the mother of 14 children, but some were dead. Luther, Rant, Spencer (Ocie), a girl, Earl, Opal, Everett (Mary), a girl and Steve who lived to be old.

Some of them would then take us to Grandpap’s and leave us. We would stay there for a week and then walk back home on the road. Twelve miles again, but level roads.

I was always afraid passing

Lilley Cornett’s and the cemeteries, He never said anything mean to us, but he always watched us until we got out of sight.

We had to wade the creek in many places, as the roads were bad in the ‘30s and ‘40s.

We had lived in Harlan County for the first years of our lives, and then Dad decided to move to Linefork. He had a house built with rough lumber, but we loved it.

I had three brothers and I finally got two sisters after we moved to Linefork.

We moved in 1937 and I had been going a year and a half at Blair School, then I started at Ingram’s Creek Grade School. My teacher was Ruby Morgan.

Then Georgia Fay and Judith Gail came long. Oh! How I loved my baby sisters! I was so happy to help Mom take care of them. I was 12 years older than Judith and nine years older than Georgia.

The year of 1937 began a new way of life for me. I lived close to all of my first cousins and grandparents on my dad’s side of the family, the Cornetts. Also, it was easier to go see my cousins on my mother’s side, the Campbells.

So many precious memories to keep me remembering the good old days.

Mom’s dad, George, came to see us a lot. He had a big, fat mule he would ride to see us.

One time I remember him getting ready to go back home and I wanted to go with him. Mom let me go. The 12-mile ride on the mule was a bit hard on one. I was up behind Grandpap and it was skinning my bottom side. It was hurting so bad I told him I needed to get off and walk.

He told me to hold to his shoulders and stand up on the mule, so — that’s what I did. We were close to his home and a crowd of people had been having church on the cemetery.

They were coming off of the hill and Grandpap told them why I was standing up. I got so embarrassed I had my face on his back. They all just laughed, and boy was I glad to get home to Grandma and let her help me with the skinned places.

She doctored me with her homemade medication. I got better after a day or two.

I was about eight years old, maybe just seven. I was sure glad to get off of that mule’s back.

Sunday, Nov. 2, and guess what? I got a big surprise — my sweet cousin came up from Ulvah and cooked supper for me and my two sons. She brought stuff to make a big apple pie and a mess of mustard greens, and we made fried potatoes with onions, and it was so good.

So now you can see why were are such good cousins and best friends. I love her so much, and I love all my friends and cousins. We will always be close in God’s love.

Don’t forget to help our community center with a Christmas giveaway. Please donate to this worthy cause.

I’ll never forget Marlow Tackett and all he did to help those in need. He was a great friend to us at Kingdom Come Center. His music and songs were great.



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