This is a story of my first cousin and me. I had many cousins and they were all very precious in my life and I loved them all dearly. One was very special and we had so many great times together.
The first memory is how it all began in the year of 1932. She was 1½ years old when her momma died giving birth to another baby, who also died. Tannie was a baby and I was 3½ years old and. I was born in October 1929 and she and my brother Jack Demsey were born May 18, 1931. I call them twins.
My mom and her dad were brother and sister. He married Tessie Mae Logan and my mom married Victor Cornett.
We lived in Cumberland at that time, and Mom and Dad got word that Aunt Tess had died and also their baby. They loaded us up in Dad’s old 1929 A Model car with a rumble seat and went up Cumberland River and across Pine Mountain to Whitesburg, then down to Isom and down the river to Ulvah at the mouth of Linefork, and up Linefork to where they lived, close to my mom’s mother and dad. They lived just a little way down from Grandpap’s home.
We went to Uncle Cooley’s home and it was a strange thing to me, but I remember it very well to be 3 ½ years old. They had six older children, a girl, a boy older (he was 14), another boy 10, one eight, one six, one close to 4½, and Tannie was 1½ years old.
They had Aunt Tess in a homemade casket and the little one was lying down beside her. It was so awful to me to see it that way. I wanted Mom to get the little baby out.
Aunt Tess had nickels over her eyes and a white cloth under her chin and up around her head — to keep her eyes closed and her mouth closed. My mom told me what that meant. I guess I was very curious of all that, and I didn’t want the baby in there. It was actually frightening to me.
After they took her to the gravesite I had kindly gotten over what was wrong, then all of us babies were playing together. Emily helped to take care of us, and also Homer, 14; Pat, 10; Robert, 8; Colin, 6, and Victor “Big”, 4. I don’t really remember everything, but some of the children were crying and the grown up people were crying.
After that time was all over, Tannie and I became very close to each other. The best cousins. When I got to go down there to see Grandpa and Grandma, we would get to play together. But it was far between times when we got to go. It was a long drive for Dad after working all week.
As we grew up together we really had some good times. Tannie stayed with Grandma a lot. We used to like to hunt hen’s nests and get the eggs for Grandma. That was a lot of fun to us. We liked to play in the barn lots and make play horses and wade the creeks. There were mussels (live ones) also periwinkles live, little sunfish swimming around our legs and minnows. We would try to catch them.
There were no car tires, tin cans, no old trash-like plastic bags or baby diapers hanging in the bushes. It was clear and the rocks didn’t have slick scum on them.
Grandpap and his boys made a homemade boat so we could ride it in a big, deep hole in water in the front of their home. That was the way they got to the road to go anywhere. They didn’t have a bridge to walk across at their place.
Every year Dad would take us down for Easter and we would all have fun hunting eggs and playing on the big broomsage hill behind their home. It was a beautiful hill where the cows went to eat grass every day in the summertime.
One time while there, Grandma gave us an old time tablecloth made out of what was called oil cloth. Kindly like plastic on one side and a backing of other material. We liked to play with the old hound dog they had, and decided to make him some shoes out of the tablecloth. We cut round pieces out and put them on the dog’s feet and tied them with strips of the cloth, and then we turned him loose — and the fun started.
He started running and the shoes made a noise and he would try to kick them off and couldn’t. Grandma got so tickled she had to sit down in her chair. Tannie and I lay on the porch and laughed and laughed. Finally we caught the dog and took his shoes off. He sure stayed away for awhile. He would run from us when he saw us coming.
One day we were playing in a big sand yard by the creek and Tannie had a dog named Pooge. We loved to play games with him. We buried our feet in the sand after we dug big holes, and put our feet in there and tamped the sand back around them.mThen we called old Pooge and he was pulling at us with his teeth, and we lay back and laughed until we cried.
He would get us by the hair and try to pull us up. It was so funny. He would dig in the sand and try to get us to get up so we could run and play with him. He was a real fine pet. We loved him so much. I begged her to give him to me and she finally did. I kept him the rest of his life.
After we had gone to school and learned how to read we had some more fun times. I’d go stay for a week or more and Grandma had her walls in the old log kitchen papered in flour bags and catalogue sheets of paper, and other paper that she could scrape up. We played a game of finding a word on the paper and let the other try to find it in so many minutes, giving clues to the one trying to find the word. That was fun as we lay on the bed made with big featherbeds on them.
There were two big beds in the kitchen, a big table and chairs, a coal and wood cook stove, and a big stone fireplace, and she had a shelf for dishes. There were no windows, and they left both doors open in the summer and winter so we could see. The floors were made out of planks, and they kept them covered with sand.
The sand kept it warm in winter and kept the wood from getting dirty also on the floor. The dogs lay by the fire in the bad weather. It had been a place to cook when my mother was a young girl, then they got a cook stove later in her life.
We loved to hear Mom’s stories of how they lived in her early years. They had to wash their clothes in a big cast-iron kettle that sat on a rock pit where they filled it with water from the Linefork Creek, and they heated it with big pieces of wood they split. Then they put their clothes in the hot water and lye soap and punched them with a punching stick.
Mom said she was washing them one day and she wore big, long dresses, and she got too close to the fire and caught her dress on fire. Grandma saw her and told her to lie down and roll on the ground to put the fire out. She was very lucky and never got burned on her skin.
Tannie and I loved to talk to my mom and her older sister Louise. They taught us a lot about those hard times of living like they did, four boys and two girls.
Then we grew up and were still best cousins and very best friends. She raised eight children to be grown up, all still living, and I married and we had five wonderful boys. They are all grown up and are so precious.
All of Tannie’s brothers and her sister Emily are deceased. She is still going good at age 83, and I just had my 85th birthday party last Saturday at our Sugar Grove Center at the old Kingdom Come School. We had a great crowd and so much good food.
She came to be with me, and I’ll always know we’ll love each other now and forever. We are both Christians and love our Jesus, Who loved us before we knew Him. We both lost our husbands two years apart.
I’d love to hear from all my friends and loved ones, the classmates of 1949 and all the ones who used to come to the reunions I got together. They were wonderful times and wonderful friends and loved ones. So many have gone on and we miss them so.
Lee “Boy” Sexton is our cousin, and he played music for our first reunion. It was wonderful and we had near 250 people to attend, five of the first graduating class, and Grace Kingdom, who was a nurse in those early years of KCHS. Her husband was teaching woodwork for the boys. They all loved him. Grace was a widow at that time, and she came and showed slides of their years at KCHS. She delivered so many babies while she was here. They lived in the log cabin up on the hill from the school.
My son Randy drew a picture of the old high school and the cabin on the hill. It is beautifully drawn with pencil. Come see it some Saturday evening, and any musicians and singers are welcome. Help us to keep our center going.
There will be a big Christmas give-away later in December. Anyone who would like to donate, please bring them, and we will make good of them. We need household goods, toys and good clothes and shoes, and coats, gloves, socks, etc. Please help us make it a success. It is needed for so many who are out of work.
God bless all. Bonnie Ingram, 14972 HWY 160, Linefork, KY 41833.