Oh, it’s good to go back home again! Though I have been away from the mountains for nigh on to 50 years it is still home in my heart.
Friday was a very busy, tiring day for me, then I found out I wasn’t needed to help my friend’s mother for the weekend as she was in the hospital.
I had some decisions to make as what to do. There’s music at my favorite place Coon Hunters Club, a place called Harvest Time Restaurant at Everton, Ind., or Red Barn at Ryland Heights, and then Sunday there’s Flatland Bluegrass Barn at Bath, Ind. Then a thought that came through my nimble brain, you could go to the mountains!
I decided to go to Coon Hunters then get up early Saturday morning and head for the mountains. No one knew I was leaving except my son Keith Ballard. That meant no one knew I was heading for their house either! I had talked to my brother Richie and made sort of plans for Saturday as Richie said there was a mudslide close to Jackson and the road was blocked.
As luck would have it, I got into the roadblock. I was on a detour that was not marked very well with a string of traffic behind me that looked like a funeral procession. I finally came off the mountain road and no direction which way to go.
I made the right decision and finally ended up with a sign saying Jackson, so I ventured on my journey no worse for the wear, just a little nerve wracking. I made it to Richie and Wanda’s at 1 a.m., safe and sound.
Saturday morning I called my sweet friend Willamae Boggs to get directions to her house. Richie took me there and I stayed for a good visit. I met her husband “John”, oops I mean Carl, outside. Carl has a streak of mischief in him as well as someone else I know!
It was a pleasure meeting Carl and I can see what a happy life he and Willamae have enjoyed through the years. There’s only one thing I wish I had done, sort of pulled his hair to see if it is real! Carl has a full head of beautiful white hair with a touch of gold!
After visiting with Willamae for a while I went to my brother Jerry and Mattie Hall’s then on to Walmart and to Letcher Manor Nursing Home to visit my sister Loretta Church and my brother Wallace Lee Hall. I then dropped Mattie off and went on to Richie and Wanda’s on Ingrams Creek. As usual Wanda had cooked a delicious supper.
As evening started drawing to a close, I begin to feel antsy and thought seriously about heading back Ohio way!
I asked Richie if we could take a ride to Little Shepherd Trail. Actually I asked him to drive his truck so their 12-year-old granddaughter Kersti Deaton and I could ride in the back. This time I traded a ride on a four-wheeler for a ride in back of a truck, which I love. Kersti and I laughed and said we were seeing where we had been not, where we were going.
Richie and Wanda stopped at Cumberland and treated us to a soft ice cream at Tasty Freeze. I have to admit, it was every bit as good as Halcomb’s custard at Isom. We returned to Richie and Wanda’s where their daughter Tina had returned with 18-monthold Blake, who was sound asleep.
Tina, Kersti and Wanda had a marshmallow roast and I was a party pooper. About 10:30 I went to bed as all at once my energy went on vacation and left me behind.
Sunday morning I woke up early. As everyone was asleep, I got dressed very quietly then sat on the porch listening to the roosters crowing and the birds singing. I thought about taking a long walk to Bruce Jones’s to aggravate him, then decided to get things together and head for Whitesburg for awhile then head back.
I followed my heart and drove towards Roxana. When I got to Kingscreek Jerry Sturgill was sitting on his porch. Once again mischievousness came out. I stopped my car and by the time I did this Jerry had walked into the house. I asked Jerry if he had a cup of coffee. Jerry thought I was one of his grandchildren playing tricks on him or maybe he just wanted to ignore me!
Anyway he finally looked around and saw who it was and we both had a good laugh. I really enjoyed a visit with Jerry and his wife Peggy, who is recovering from surgery.
Jerry told me that Frick was in visiting his brother Frack or vice versa. Don’t really know which is Frick or which is Frack!
Doug Ison was in from Columbus, Ind., visiting Michael and his family. Michael’s daughter and her husband and family were in from New York also.
Had I known Doug was in I might have just stopped by and tried to talk him into taking me out for supper if I could have convinced him I was broke and hungry! The Ison family had a cookout and swimming party and everyone had a wonderful time, and I left my bikini home!
I did stop by Michael’s for a few minutes just to chat with him. Doug had already left for his journey home and was stopping at BP for breakfast as Michael was on strike and closed the kitchen. I almost went to visit Genita Calihan in Paradise Valley but decided to get on my way.
When I finally got into Roxana, I drove through and wanted just to look at everything that had been part of my short life of 13 years of living there.
At Minnie Whitaker’s old homeplace there’s still the little outhouse standing. As I was looking around there was a young guy beside the road. I stopped my car and asked him who was living in Minnie’s house and he told me that her son Wallace Whitaker lived there. I asked him, who he was? It was Monroe and Ollie Whitaker’s son George. He was so nice to talk to me about growing up in this small place called Roxana. I remember how pretty Ollie was as a young girl.
I have seen beautiful crape myrtle trees in other people’s yard, but in this yard they are red ones, white ones. They were outrageously beautiful.
As I got back in my car my tape player was going since I forgot to shut off my car. A tape by Ralph Carter was starting to play and the song was the first song that Ralph and Carter had written in 1947 called ‘Mother No Longer Awaits Me At Home.’ At the end of the song the DJ says this goes out to Rose Ballard. I had recorded it from a radio station back in the ‘90s and was friends with the DJ then.
This was such a coincidence for this song to come up at the time. Tears streamed down my face for a few minutes.
My feet have trod over every single inch of soil on the hill there at Roxana, up Green Briar Hollow, down the dirt road and railroad tracks to Mill Branch School. Amburgey’s Grocery is still there, Minnie and George Whitaker’s house, Pearl and Martha Whitaker’s, which was Monroe and Ollie’s, is still standing, everything else has changed. Not even a blade of grass looks familiar where Hallie and Blanche Hogg lived.
I drove through Hot Spot (Premium) and didn’t see anyone stirring since it was church time. I went back to Carl and Willamae’s to spend time with Willamae while Carl went to church.
I had an incident with hornets that is going to be with me for a while. Willamae wanted me to see their camper. Hornets decided they didn’t like me and I was stung multiple times in the face, side of neck, on my throat and left hand, just about 10 or 11 times. I am swollen until my face looks abnormal, and my left hand was so swollen as if you pumped air under my skin.
This, like everything else, will come to pass if the itching would subside. I haven’t been out of my house for two days as my face is swollen on one side. I look like a freak in a sideshow.
Willamae is feeling a little stronger since she had another stay in the hospital. This sweet person has really been having her share of health problems.
Thanks, Carl and Willamae, for lunch. Next time I head for the mountains I am going to call ahead and have reservations for breakfast, lunch and supper. Just in case it doesn’t work out guess I will take a little extra money with me.
I hope the next time I head for the mountains Shirley Wells and I can connect.
If I had read The Mountain
that I bought while there, I would have stopped by the Mitchell Gentry reunion. I am very sorry I hadn’t seen it was the same weekend I was there.
Gwen Huff Farmer has been really busy putting all her succulent harvest from her garden in the freezer as she is heading on vacation with her son John and his family. They will be going to Knoxville, Tenn., then to Kentucky to a lake. I know she is looking forward to this venture.
Ann and Johnny Calihan have both been feeling a little bit poorly lately. With the heat and air conditioning, it is very hard on people.
I haven’t seen my little sidekick Bennie for a few days. I miss this little rascal.
Hello to my sister Loretta Church and Wallace Lee Hall in Letcher Manor Nursing Home, and thanks to all the girls who helped me, especially to the pretty, long-legged nurse named Lee that couldn’t get under my steering wheel to move my car. I can’t help it if my legs are shorter than yours.
My heart goes out to the people in Pike County area with the flooding. I wish someone would get a bluegrass benefit together to help these unfortunate people. I will help in any way I can if someone can get something going.
When the flood hit in Nashville there were all kinds of things going on. I know there are several people from the Whitesburg area who have a lot of bluegrass music connections. There are Lil’ Willard Hall and his family who know Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks rather well, Ancil Trivette who is a DJ on WMMT radio is well known.
I can remember the 1957 flood there at Roxana. My husband and I also lost a lot of our furniture in 1964 in a flood that hit here, so I can say I have been there and done that.
Well I better get this on its way, so until next time, Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030, email: Bluegrassmama4@ aol.com, telephone, 513- 367-4682.