Hello again everyone!
Mother Nature sure must be enjoying herself as the weather has turned fickle for the month of February and March! Days that are so beautiful you need the air conditioner, then you need the heater as it can turn to freezing before nightfall.
Every spring there’s a white tree that blooms along the highway. I believe it may be called Bradford pear. I always look forward to seeing this vision, along with the redbuds. This year everything is so much earlier than years past.
I had plans to go to Carcassonne Community Center for the first annual square dance. Wednesday was a busy day for me, and I started feeling sort of bad. Thursday morning found me very sick, but I was determined to go to the square dance.
While listening to the Bull Dog with Kevin Day, I asked Kevin to send me the weather report, which he was kind enough to do. I packed a suitcase and headed for the mountains, but as I said I was very ill.
Shortly after arriving, the weather report changed and so did my health. It was predicted to get freezing rain, along with snow. So to be on the safe side I decided to cut my visit short and head back to the flatlands.
I have an obligation to be back for Old Time Fiddlers Sunday so I was afraid I would be stranded and not make it back in time. Our vice president, Bob Whitaker, wasn’t going to be at Old Time Fiddlers this time. Vicki Powers hasn’t been feeling well the past week so I didn’t want to put the load on her shoulders without some backup.
While driving on Mountain Parkway, which is a favorite road for me, my thoughts turn back in time as I observe the beauty surrounding me, knowing each mile takes me closer the mountains I call home.
I remember once we were taking my brother Jerry and his wife Mattie Hall back to their home after an extensive visit with us. Jerry rolled the window down and said, “Oh I can almost smell it.” I started laughing, asking what do you smell? Jerry replied, “Home.” I knew what he was feeling.
Several years ago, while traveling on Mountain Parkway, I did something that I’ve never done before or again. We had a new 1986 Chevy S10 pickup truck. My daughter Anna was 15 years old. I taught Anna to drive, so a couple of times I have pulled over to let Anna drive on Mt. Pkwy as she was taller and didn’t look like a 15-year-old, plus she was a good driver.
Yes, before you get your knickers in a wad, I took a chance I shouldn’t have.
You’ve heard the expression show your poot toot! Well two boys were standing on an overpass, one decided to moon travelers. Now you’ve had your laugh.
A longtime friend, Margie Kelly, traveled so many times with me to visit Mommy while Daddy was in the Veterans Hospital. As we were on our way, a car was pulled over at an underpass. The woman had an urge that you can’t control, and she thought she was hidden behind the beam of the bridge.
What she didn’t know she was in plain view, and I was rotten enough to blow the horn. Margie started laughing and said, “Rosella you scared her.”
Margie always enjoyed seeing the kudzu vines as they weaved their beauty while they took over the mountainside. Yes, I am simpleminded enough to believe you can find beauty in anything if you look for it.
I’ve made Harrison my home for over 50 years, but still the love for my roots of being raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky will be with me until God stops my heart that is overflowing with love, and closes my eyes that has seen so much beauty, and someone folds these withered wrinkled hands.
While I let my thoughts travel back to younger times, I began thinking of kids walking to school, oh yes one of the tales of walking a mile to school uphill going both ways! As so many before my age knows there wasn’t a school bus, and I don’t ever remember school being cancelled.
Anna Stewart was my first grade teacher, and oh how I learned to love this dear woman. Miss Stewart discovered that I was rather bright at my early age as I could comprehend things that some had trouble with.
I could add in my head before she would have the answers on the board. I was very good at spelling also, although I was only in the first grade.
I would head off to school with my homemade little dresses, hair hanging down my back with bangs cut straight across, and I can’t forget the freckled nose, with skin so shiny and clean. Daddy made sure we had a new pair of shoes, and that was the only time we got new shoes.
Each morning Mommy would pour a little milk then crumble a chunk of cornbread in a small lard bucket, and put a spoon in it. I would watch other children as they would eat peanut butter or jelly sandwiches. I didn’t know what peanut butter was.
Sometimes Mommy would melt lard and add sugar. When the sugar melted Mommy would spread it on a biscuit. Most of the time we had two biscuits, but there was no waxed paper. I can remember some kids who didn’t even have anything to eat, so I would share.
Walking to school from Roxana to Mill Branch was not a problem until some older children taught me what the word bullying means. I was very petite and didn’t know how to fight back.
As I got older things didn’t change until my grandma Rosa Hall stepped in, telling me to take my part or she was going to whip me. In the process I lost a baby tooth from a rock that an older boy hit me with.
I picked up that same rock, and my aim was good. He stood wiping blood from his forehead, and I was spitting blood out of my mouth along with my tooth. That put a stop to his part of bullying me.
I caught his brother by himself and pushed him over the bank in a saw briar thicket. I’m sure some of you know what saw briars are. To this day when I hear the word saw briars I have to laugh, thinking of him trying to get loose.
As a his younger sibling got a little bigger he would call my younger brother Wallace Lee, fatty, fatso, etc. Wallace Lee would just cry as he was too little to do anything. My Grandma Rosa Hall taught me to stand up for myself, and not be pushed around.
Mill Branch was a tworoom schoolhouse with a huge room in the middle. I was told that used to be a lunchroom, but I never researched the history of Mill Branch schoolhouse so I don’t know.
I do know the school was warm. As students arrived we all took for granted the warmth, not knowing who came early to get the fires going or how early they had to arrive.
When I reached the upper room, there was a couple of new kids who started school at Mill Branch, a boy named Richard Jones who was a couple of years older than me, yet was a grade behind me. I got my first crush; that lasted for the next three years
Wess Ison was the teacher of all four grades. Mr. Ison told Richard that if he would come early to build fires he would be paid. I would walk to school with him lots of mornings to help him and to spend time with him. This continued until I graduated from the eighth grade and lost touch with Richard.
I did see him one time before I left eastern Kentucky for a brief few minutes. Through the time of us being sweethearts he made plans to come to Austin, Ind., and get a job when he grew up, then come back to the mountains to get me.
Now you must remember I was all of 11 years old, and he was only 12 or 13. I know he lives (I assume he is still living) in Austin, and is supposed to be a preacher. Gee, I sure would have been waiting a long time.
As I am writing this column I am wanting ice cream. Who remembers eating a brown mule ice cream, or a fudgesickle while growing up?
My thoughts keep returning back to growing up and the things I did for entertainment.
My grandmother Betty Barton lived in Woodrock on a small dirt road located in Blackey. Mommy used to take us children to visit her, and we had no car so we would walk. When I got about 10 years old I started walking to Woodrock by myself.
Sometimes I walked the narrow dirt road, and other times I walked the railroad tracks. I still shudder about being so scared of a train coming while I was walking the tracks.
There are times I walked across Mill Branch to Pratt Fork past Wadrup’s slaughterhouse, and then on to the highway and Woodrock. I was no stranger to the roads, and over the years I built stamina in my body and legs.
I wasn’t raised up in Blackey, but I did spend some time there while growing up. That is one reason I love going back for Blackey Days each October, and the love of music of course. Blackey Days is like a huge family reunion. I am looking forward to attending in October.
Roxana will forever remain a special place to me no matter where I roam.
I want to make one thing clear. In my column last week, I was not meaning anyone particular about my comment about not liking when someone made fun of people who is less fortunate and people without teeth! A few years ago in an article about mountain children and bad dental hygiene, I found the columnist’s address and wrote a lengthy letter to the writer.
Thanks for the person who made sure someone saw the few lines by sending something called a screen shot. I am so glad you read my column and took the time to read, and share the newspaper.
Next time you take the time to read my column, please don’t think I am singling out anyone. This has been my way of thinking all my life. Please keep on reading as I am sure you will find something to satisfy your inquiring mind.
I lead such an interesting life, and to have someone censoring my writings, sort of makes me feel so special.
I have started on another book since many enjoyed “The Beauty of a Rose”.
Hello to Les and Pat Wagner. I didn’t make enough time to call and tease you about being in the mountains this time.
In closing, please never tell a determined hardheaded hillbilly woman to not do something she is determined to do!
I am free, 71 years old. I may just do it, plus as the last time I noticed it is a free world we are not in Russia yet!
Until next time, Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030.