Whitesburg KY
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Ohio residents celebrate Letcher County Day

Southern Ohio


Hello again, everyone!.

Letcher County Day in Harrison, Ohio ,was very well attended. It was such a pleasure to meet each and every one: Lily Mae Vaughn, Bobby and Shelby Bockover, Minerva and Watson Craft, Rick Stapleton, Richard Cornett, Donald and Betty Back, Greeley Bates, Jean (Bates) Pena, Richard Thomas, Robert Bryant, Eveda Ison, Bobby Hogg, Green Calihan, Johnny and Ann Calihan, Mona Inman, Lesa and little Shane Turner, Janey and Tiffany Whitaker, Bill and Jean Ison, Berma Matthews, Olan Whitaker, Rick Stapleton, Clarence and Arlyn Halcomb, Polly Ann Ison Maucher, and Lady Bates. My husband, Clayton Durham, stopped by for a while.

I meant to announce Clarence Halcomb as Mr. Letcher County and completely forgot to. I also meant to have everyone sing “Happy Birthday” to Clarence, who celebrated his birthday Oct. 8.

Clarence brought his chain of life to share with everyone. It is hard to spend individual time with everyone. There were small prizes for the oldest, which was Clarence Halcomb, and the youngest was Shane Turner. He and his mom and family left early. Lesa and Janey are Genita Cornett Calihan’s daughters.

Berma Matthews came from Letcher especially for this event. Berma knows all my brothers, Wallace Lee, Jerry, Richie and Robert, and my sister, Loretta. She also goes to church with Richie’s wife, Wanda, so it was an added pleasure to meet her.

Richard Cornett is a brother to Jim Cornett, who writes for The Mountain Eagle. Richard was a delight to talk to. He is writing down some old-timey sayings. When he takes a notion, he will haul off or break down and get it done!

Don and Betty Back live here in Harrison. Don is from the Jeremiah area and Betty is a Texas gal. I must say Don Back and Clarence Halcomb may not have married a mountain girl, however they sure got a keeper as Betty and Arlyn are such beautiful women.

I could hear Bill Ison’s laughter every once in a while drifting through the crowd. He and Ann Calihan look enough alike, you know they are brother and sister without asking. Green Calihan is Johnny’s nephew. Clay Calihan, you should have brought your mom, Versa Calihan, and Coolie Jr. and Pat. I know you take The Mountain Eagle so where were you? I also missed Hayward and Vivian Day and Kim.

I really appreciate each and every one of you for making this day a success, Ann Calihan really was helpful. Thanks to Ann for telling me about the Harrison Community shelter.

Everyone wants to make this an annual event, so keep your calendars marked for the third week of September next year.

It really was a beautiful day. Once again these mountain gals came loaded with food. It seems we don’t know how to feed just ourselves. I can leave me out of that statement, I was so busy, I actually forgot to grab something.

Greeley and Norma Jean Bates’s dad was Andy Bates from the Mill Branch, Roxana area, I went to school with their younger sisters, Margie and Molene Bates. They have all settled in Winchester, Ind. It was such a pleasure seeing them. Greeley is a preacher; I was a good girl, I didn’t say a bad word all day!

Their brother, Owen Bates, was down in Letcher County for a church Association. Jean, I know I didn’t spell your last name correctly as I don’t know how to insert hyphen over the top.

The Calihan reunion will be held Oct. 13-at the firehouse on Kingscreek. Please bring a covered dish. This will be a sad event as Jr. Calihan is in a nursing home, Hattie Calihan Taylor, who lives in Georgia, is unable to make the long journey home, then the recent passing of our little mountain mama Alma Whitaker.

Time is passing by so fast we each should take the time to have a get-together with our families. We can pick our friends, but a family member is given to us by God, though sometimes my family might want to give me back!

I went to Governor Bebb’s Preserve to see Clarence and Arlyn Halcomb, who set up a small gristmill to grind corn. Clarence really enjoys talking to the children and adults. Clarence made this gristmill himself. He and Arlyn have been sharing this with the public for 24 or 25 years at this same park.

Clarence has a wooden chain, which he calls his chain of life. On each link of the chain, he has written information pertaining to events in his life. I had the pleasure of showing a woman and her daughter this chain as Clarence was busy showing off his grinding corn. Clarence is like a walking history book with so much knowledge. It is a pleasure to sit and listen to him, to see his carpentry skills.

Clarence and Arlyn have been married for 55 years. Arlyn is such a beautiful lady. Her snowwhite hair was framed around her face with a small hat she wore for the occasion. Arlyn’s skin is so flawless, she could make a commercial for Cover Girl cosmetics.

Clarence and Arlyn always dress for this special occasion at the park. He has on his bib overalls and straw hat, she in her long dress and little white hat.

Clarence has called Hamilton home for 58 years. He is originally from Linefork. Occasionally Clarence sends an article to the Kentucky Explorer. He has trouble seeing so he dictates to Arlyn and she does the writing for him. Arlyn taught school in the Hamilton area over 30 years.

I am so thankful these two special people have kept this oldtime tradition going. It is also funny to see and hear some children talking as they have never experienced what cornmeal is, and never experienced the good taste of cornbread. I had to laugh as I heard one young mother tell her child that was what tortillas were made of as she felt the cornmeal with her fingers.

While showing off the chain made by Clarence, I found out the two women I was talking to were from Hazard, Geneva (Ratliff) who is married to Evans Cecil and her daughter Helen Anderson.

Geneva has an uncle, Chester Cornett and wife Mary, from the Linefork area. It was a pleasure meeting these two lovely ladies!

Shirley Well’s daughter, Loretta Baggett, had surgery and is doing alright. Shirley is busy baby-sitting.

My brother, Wallace Lee Hall, who is in Letcher Manor, hasn’t been doing so well. My sister, Loretta, seems to be handling the loss of her leg pretty well. She has some complications due to diabetes and the wreck she was in, that are keeping her from getting up and around. Loretta says thanks for all the cards and visits. I wish I was closer so I could visit them more often.

I talk to my brother, Richie Hall, and Wanda almost every day. Their son, Derrick, works in the mines. It seems he has followed in our dad’s (Clayton Hall) footsteps.

I was sorry to hear about the terrible accident that took the life of a bluegrass singer Larry Fuller of Richmond. I met him several times at bluegrass festivals; he was always nice to talk to. Larry sang a song “I Want To Go Back There, Just For A Day” that Shirley and I enjoyed very much.

I have been baby-sitting for my grandson, Benjie, who is eight months old, it is about to wear me out. Could it be that I am getting old?

Gwen Huff Farmer is still busy trying to get all her vegetables put away for the upcoming winter. Usually she has plenty of apples that last her all winter. Gwen will miss this.

Hello to Robert Bryant’s brother, Phillip Bryant. Thanks for helping me locate Betty Bryant Kelly and her husband, Barefoot Bill. Barefoot Bill has been in the mountains for so long I bet he can’t get his shoes on when he heads for Ohio. Oh I forgot, that is where he was when I gave him his nickname!

Hello to Bruce and Delbert Jones and all the Jones family on Ingrams Creek. Bruce, I think Richie has stolen your little granddaughter, Destiny’s, heart as she calls him poppaw.

Levine Jones, it will be Halloween before you know it. Have you got lots of goodies for all the little ones?

Johnny and Ann Calihan had a wonderful trip to Colorado with their daughter, Carol, and her husband, Jack. They send their love to all their family everywhere. I plan on taking Ann to see Doyle and Betty Ison’s deck sometime soon.

Once again the old clock on the wall says get this on the way. Until next time: Rose Ballard Durham, 9110 Lawrenceburg Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030, email Bluegrassmama4@aol.com.


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