Whitesburg KY

School buses are traveling the highways again


By the time this week’s Eagle hits the newsstands, Letcher schools will be back in session. Hopefully all the children will have a safe trip to and from their schools since it takes awhile for traffic to get used to the school buses being back on the highway.

Blackey Homecoming Day is coming up this Saturday, August 11, and hopefully the weather will be just a little cooler and less humid.

The Blackey Missionary Baptist Church will have its doors open to the public for folks to sit down and rest in a cool place and to take a restroom break while they are attending Blackey Day. Everyone is welcome to stop by. The church will also be selling pancake breakfasts from 8:00 to 10:30 that morning, and soup bean dinners starting at 11 a.m.

The church members were pleased to have out-of-state visitors from a church in Ohio, who painted the inside walls of the building. They fixed the visitors a hot, homecooked dinner to show their appreciation for the work that was done.

Recently, Homer and Ruth Smith and some of their family and Coman and Florrie Caudill and some of their family attended the Hampton reunion in Ohio. They all enjoyed the trip and had more than 100 family members attending the reunion.

Travis Morton recently attended a cancer survivors’ camp and I think his mother, Melodie, went with him. We hope he had a good time and he continues to stay happy and in good health.

Vada Caudill will be having a yard sale this Saturday, with proceeds going to help her son, Mitchell Dale, with his medical bills. Mitchell recently had a bone marrow transplant and is doing pretty well. His sister, Jenny Ann, was a match to his bone marrow and donated some of hers to him.

Vada lives on Blair Branch if you want to attend the yard sale.

Ike and Helen Banks Upshaw of Oklahoma, were here visiting over the weekend. Helen is the daughter of the late Hub and Vina Banks, and she wanted to come back “home” and visit her relatives. Their five-year-old grandson, Andrew, also came with them.

They visited Helen’s sister, Mallie Hobbs, at Letcher Manor Nursing Home and stayed with Francine Caudill while they were here.

Francine also had her mom, Mary Lou Combs, and sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Lyle Frazier of Louisville, visiting for a few days. They enjoyed being together and catching up with Helen and her family.

Opal Banks had dinner for all of those Banks descendants who wanted to stop in. Mary Lou and most of her family came, Helen, Ike and Andrew; Hattie Bank and her granddaughter, Becky; and most of Opal and Everett’s family. About 30 of us got together and we all pitched in and had a good time visiting and eating.

Our sympathy to the family of Lonnie Gibson Frazier of Premium, who died last week. It was just a few months ago that her husband, Glen, died, which must make it very sad for their children.

Hazel Adams’s grandson, David Combs, and his family have been visiting family here in Letcher County. David and Ethan came by to see their aunt, Opal Banks, and she said Ethan really has grown. They visited Johnny and Linda Combs and Melodie’s parents and other kinfolk while here. I think David also stopped in at his grandmother, Irene Jent’s, to visit.

Coreen Pridemore recently walked up to visit with Berlene Smith and they spent the afternoon talking.

We didn’t make it up to the Adams, Thompson, Blair reunion this year – too many other things going on. I hope they had a good visit despite the hot weather. Maybe Den Arthur and Judy will have a little column about it later. They’re good to fax their items straight to The Mountain Eagle, which helps me out since I’m forgetful sometimes.

Chester and Odella Blair have been here for a week or so and you can see their families visiting with them on the porch of Rankin and Cindy’s little homeplace at Jeremiah.

This from Elva Pridemore Marshall – “School Days at Isom.”

“Going to school was a dream come true for me. I was barely five years old at the time and had been looking forward to starting school from some time. My older sister and brother were already in school and I thought it was so exciting when they brought their readers home and would practice reading for Mother and Dad. I just knew that learning to read would be the most wonderful thing imagined.

“In the summer of 1940 when preparations were being made for Billie and Don to start school, I began to beg Mother to let me go with them. After much pleading on my part, she finally agreed that I could start but when the weather turned cold I could quit and wait until the next year to go back. She didn’t realize that once I started there would be no quitting. I simply loved school too much to quit.

“The school contained two rooms, which were known as the upper and lower rooms. The upper room housed the fourth through eighth grades and the lower room the first through third grades. I didn’t get off to a very good start on my first day. I can’t remember where the rubber band came from, but I had found one and I used it to flip the little boy sitting next to me. I believe his name was Doug Helton.

“Nevertheless, the teacher took it away from me and gave me a lecture. (That teacher was Edith Ison and she still lives at Isom.) She was one of the best teachers I ever had.

“I had never seen chalk used to write on a blackboard then be erased by an eraser before, so I decided that I would take an eraser and some chalk home with me so I could write and erase. Dad had other ideas when he found out I had them. He gave me a good talking to about taking something that didn’t belong to me and gave me strict orders to take them back to school the next day, and that is exactly what I did.

“You would think that after I got off to such a bad start I would be ready to quit, but not me. I was in love with school. Our first book was called a primer back then and the teacher soon found I could read that book with very little trouble. My dad found out differently. He was listening to me read one night when he said, “Wait a minute,” and pointed to a word on the page I was reading. I didn’t know it. He tried several other words which I didn’t know and finally figured out that I had the book memorized. I had two year of listening to Billie and Don read the same book night after night and knew it word for word. With Dad and my teacher helping, I soon learned to read for real. That door to reading has never closed to me. To this day it is one of my favorite pastimes.

“There was no bus to ride to school so everyone had to walk. We usually walked to school with the Ison children and when school was dismissed for the afternoon there would be a group of kids to walk home with. In the summer this was fun; winter was a different story.

“In winter we would be all bundled up, as Mother called it. Nowadays it is called layering your clothing. When dressing for school we started with long john underwear, then long cotton stockings that were held up with an elastic garter, a petticoat, our dresses, a sweater, a coat, mittens, a ‘boggan cap, and over our shoes we wore galoshes. These were high top rubber shoes that slipped on over our regular shoes. With all these layers of clothes, it was still a cold walk. The first winter I went to school, Mother dressed me in boy’s overalls on the really cold days.

“I soon found out that, being the youngest child in our household going to school, it was my job to carry the lunch pail for all of us – at least that is how my brother and sister felt. That pail was a four-pound lard bucket that contained our food, which could be milk and bread, or biscuits filled with some type of meat or jelly. When we reached school there was a shelf to place your lunch on, hooks to hang your coats and caps on, and a place you could leave your galoshes.

“When it was time for school to begin, the teacher would ring the bell. That was the signal for us to line up. We formed two lines, one for the lower room and one for the upper room. We then saluted the flag as we said the pledge of allegiance to it. After this, we would file into our rooms. To begin our day, there would be Bible reading and a song or two. Then we would begin our lessons. The older children often helped the younger ones with their reading and arithmetic; this also helped the teacher.

“In the middle of the morning we had a recess, at noon an hour for lunch, and a recess again in the afternoon so there was time to play as well as to learn. Some of the games we played were round town ball (this was something like softball today), dodge ball, and basketball. The younger kids played jump rope, hopscotch, and other games. In the winter when we had to stay inside, we played jacks and marbles. There was always some game we could think of to play.

“In good weather we had competitive events with neighboring schools. Since we had to walk everywhere, we would walk to one of the other schools or one of them would walk to our school and the boys would play each other in basketball to see who had the best ball team. We also had arithmetic matches, or we might have a spelling match. It was always a good feeling when our school won these matches, and we often did.

“The little two-room school at Isom was the place I learned my life lessons as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. My education there has been the foundation that has carried me throughout my life. I was greatly saddened when I learned that the schoolhouse had burned down. I would have liked to have been able to show my children where I had spent many a happy day and learned so much.”

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