Memories of My Childhood
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|In the summer months, Marcus and I
would try to make some extra money. We would pick a half gallon of blackberries and
take them to Defiance and try to sell them. We would sit near the railroad bridge and wait
for customers. We would start asking fifty cents and if they didn't sell, we would get
down to a quarter. If they didn't see at that price, we would eat what we could and throw
the rest into the river. We would go from door to door asking for scrapiron. We put what
we got on our homemade sled and hauled it to a scrapiron dealer near the Defiance company
store. If some one wanted some coal, we would get two burlap bags full from the tipple and
carry a load to them for fifty cents. For a dime, we could buy a Pepsi and a bag of Tom's
peanuts to treat ourselves. We would pour the peanuts into the Pepsi to give us a special
drink. This sounds goofy, but we really enjoyed doing this.
When I was about eleven, I bought my first comic books. If they had covers, the price was ten cents. When we got through with them, we would take them back to the store and get three cents in trade. The store manager had to remove the front covers in order to resell them for five cents. My favorites were Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Plastic Man. Marcus convinced me that if I put a towel around my neck and yell "Shazam" while I was jumping off the hen house. I would be able to fly. I did as he told me and shouted Shazam in midair. I hit the ground flat on my stomach and it knocked the breath out of me. We could not believe that it did not work. I was smart enough not give it another try.
When the weather got warmer, almost everyone, including boys and young men, were playing horseshoes. There would be teams lined up challenging each other. Younger boys would be playing marbles. If we could find two tin cans, we would use a rock to bend them to fit them to our feet and we would be clomping around the road. If an old tire could be found, someone would curl up inside and another person would roll him around. It didn't take much to entertain us.
We finally got a radio. There was no electricity so we had to use battery power. We made our batteries by using flashlight batteries with wires tarred to each battery. This would last us for a long time. There were no local radio stations at that time. Being up in the mountains made it very easy to pick up the super stations throughout the central states. We would listen to Randy Blake at WJJD, Chicago and its "Suppertime Frolics". One advertisement that I will always remember was " Snap back with Colorback". This was for hair dye. Other stations were WCKY in Cincinnati, WHAS in Louisville, WWVA from Wheeling, West Virginia, and WSM, Nashville, Tennesee and its Grand Ole Opry. Our father loved to listen to Uncle Dave Macon and Grandpa Jones. He would ask if he really is a Grandpa. Also, one of the great ones was Roy Acuff singing "Precious Jewel". Someone would ask " Did you hear what happened to Roy Acuff last night? When we said no, the answer was that he was singing "Way back in the hills as a boy I once wandered" and a tree limb fell on his head. We had to use a ground wire and another wire strung way up the mountainside for reception. Some of our favorite shows were Lum and Abner, Jamup and Honey, Inner Sanctum, The Shadow, and Tom Mix.
We did not get electricity in Scuddy Hollow until 1947; two years after we left.
You can also find your favorite B Western movies and actors at the The Old Coral
There was a lot of moonshining going on. Almost everyone was either doing it or had relatives who were. Marcus and I would sometimes visit our mother's sisters on Mason Creek. We could either walk the seven miles by the highway or two miles over the mountains. We would go up the hollow and take a footpath to the top of Mason Creek. While we were walking, we would find some stills. Some would be working and some had been broken up by the revenuers. A still was made with a large boiler with a cover. There was a long twisted copper tube running from the top of the cover to a barrel. Corn would be put in the boiler with a lot of water and brought to a rolling boil creating steam that escaped through the tube. As it went through the tube, it would be condensed into a liquid that was pure alcohol. The liquid looked like water. A little of this would knock one on his rear end like a lightning bolt. Thus, it was called white lightning. Stills were hard to find because they were built deep in the in the woods and were used late at night when the moon was shinning. Also, the people who worked for the revenue department knew that they were risking their lives because outsiders were not looked on with favor. Some never came back alive. Because of the lack of bottles to sell it to their customers, fruit jars were used. When there was a flood on Carr Creek, Marcus and I would pick up all the empty bottles that washed up on the banks and sell them to the bootleggers for five cents each.
I remember one time when a friend of mine, Johnnie Lee Wells, and I were searching for some bottles after a flood. There were a lot of lumber and trash stuck to the middle support of the bridge across Carr Creek. He and I climbed down to the lumber and began searching for bottles. I felt something pulling on my leg. It was a hand and when I pulled it up, it was Johnnie. He had fallen through and caught my leg on the way down. He was wringing wet so we had to go home. On his way home he begged me not to tell his mother.When she asked us, we told her that he tripped and fell in a pool of water. One day we were playing in our yard when word came up the hollow that the revenuers were coming. Two men ran out of a house, grabbed an axe and demolished two fifty barrels of whiskey. Three minutes later, word came "false alarm, false alarm." There were two grown men sitting on a stump crying like a baby. I had a couple of cousins who spent thirty days in jail for selling bootleg whiskey. They did not have the twenty-five dollars to pay the fine.
Most of the people in the hills had never seen an airplane before. One day, a huge squadron of aircraft flew over Scuddy Hollow. This really caused some frightening scenes. Some people were out waving at the planes but a lot of the old folks were on their knees crying and praying for they thought that the world was coming to an end. They were praying for God to spare them from hellfire. One woman told us that the planes were so low that she could see the pilot in one of the planes. She said that he had the "purtiest blue eyes that she had ever did seed". Everyone knew that what she said was "pretty fer fetcthed", meaning she was stretching the truth.
In 1942, there was a cave-in at the mine. No one was killed, but Roy's father-in-law was one of the injured. He had a broken back. They had taken him to Mount Mary's Hospital in Hazard. His wife, Agnes, and his mother-in-law went to see him. As Agnes was walking through the hospital door, she started vomiting. They rushed her into the emergency room and she had a ruptured appendix. She died on the operating table. He moved into his in-laws house so that they could help with his two young girls. Roy was heart broken and he gave up living. He died six months later at the age of twenty-five. Because he had had been living with his in-laws at the time, he wanted the girls to stay with them. My father wanted to take the girls, but he did not want to go against Roy's wishes.
In 1944, Dad sold our house and land for seven hundred dollars and we moved to a coal camp at Glomawr. Our Grandfather, Garrett, had died two years earlier. I can remember that we had four uncles who lived there with their families. They were Shade, John S., George, and William. There may have been more. We only lived there for one year, but what a year it was.
Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon
Way back in the hills, when a boy, I once wandered
Good Ole Mountain Dew
LLoyd "Cowboy" Copas
She's my Filipino Baby, she's my treasure and my pet"
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