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Tokyo, Japan, 1957

 

 

Mount Carmel

Page 3

 

 

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Sometime that year, it was decided that new gas well had to be drilled at Mt. Carmel. Mrs. Mc Connell said that the Lord had told her to put it between the boys' dormitory and the barn. The crew with the rig showed up and when they saw the site, they were very sceptical about drilling. Miss Mc Connell was adament so they started drilling. They went down so far and struck rock. There was a discussion as to what to do. The foreman wanted to stop, but she would have no part of it. The foreman shook his head and started drilling again. Soon thereafter, he struck oil. He showed her the oil, but Miss Mc Connell told him that she did not need oil; she needed gas. A few more feet and the foreman  yelled, "We have struck gas." The foreman shooked his head and gave her a big smile. Mr. Swauger and the crew capped the well . I was there throughout the process helping to do the minor work around the site. It was my job to dig the ditch from the well to the new dining room. It took me along time to do it and was not easy digging.

Mr. Richards and I went to Indiana one summer to get a load of potatoes that was donated to the school. It was on a Wednesday. After we loaded the potatoes, we were invited for supper. The wife had cooked a huge meal and I was really full. I could not eat another bite, but then, she came out with a huge cherry pie. She put a big slice of it on my plate and I sat there big eyed and was wondering what to do. I did not want to hurt her feelings, so I began to eat very slowly. After a few bites, she realized that I was struggling to swallow it and she gently said that if I wanted to, I could finish it later on. There was a prayer meeting at their church that night and we went. I was one miserable person and the only prayer that I could think of was for the service to get over with so I could get out of there.

In my junior year, Miss Mc Connell informed Seldon and me that one of us would take over the running of the radio station within a few years. She wanted us to have Kenneth Amspaugh, the director, to show us around and start training us. When we got to the station, the first question that I asked was who changed the light bulb at the top of the tower when it went out. Kenneth said that he did. I looked at Seldon and told him that the job was his. He later took over the station and was its director for many years.

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Kenneth Amspaugh at the radio station with the same affable smile as when we were younger

 

It was a tradition after each testing period, Miss McConnell read our report card grades to all the students. This time it was the first one of mu   junior year and mine had three A's and one B plus. At the dinner table, Miss Reed told me that she always knew that I was capable of making better grades than I had been doing. Next period, she wanted all A's. From that time on, I bored down on my studies and made straight A's for the rest of my junior and senior years. I did not want to disappoint her.

One day there was a basketball game between Mt. Carmel and the Bible School. I was too small to play so I watched the game. There was a metal ladder on a stand nearby and for some reason, I climbed on top and began to go back and forth. No one was paying any attention to what I was doing when it suddenly broke from the base and came crashing down. One of the rungs hit me across my right lower leg and broke it. Everyone started running toward me and Mrs. Reed asked me to wiggle my toes. When I did, she said that it was not broken because I could wiggle them. I looked at her and replied that if my leg was not broken, then it was badly bent. Everyone started laughing at what I said. Mrs. Swauger took me to the hospital and the doctor set the leg and put a cast on it. Even though I should have been given a tongue lashing, no one said a word.

After finishing my junior year, I went home for the summer. I should have stayed at Mt. Carmel and helped out, but I had seriously thought about not finishing high school. I wanted to join the Navy. The navy recruiting officer advised me to finish high school so I went back to Mt. Carmel. I found out years later that she was really disappointed in me for doing this.

My senior year was full of activities. One of these was a play written by Miss Reed about Miss Mc Connell, Miss Swartwout, and Mr. and Mrs.Swauger first trip to KMBI. I played Mr. Swauger and what a thrill that was. It was a hilarious play that kept everyone laughing. Our class published  first year book at the school. I was chosen to be the editor. The whole class participated and we succeeded in making a great book. Unfortunately mine was lost and I was never able to get another one.  Our class colors were blue and gold.

After our class graduated and the cermonies were over, I was walking out the door when Mr. Swauger said to me that he thought that I would become a minister for the Kentucky Mountains. It was one of the hardest thing that I have ever done when I told him that never felt like becoming a minister. I packed what few clothes that I had in a paper bag and got a ride with LLoyd and Mossie Harris's father to my home in Jeff. They lived in Harlan and they were going by my father's house. A month later I joined the Air Force and stayed until I retired in 1970. I did come by Mt. Carmel once while I was on leave.

About fifteen years ago, I was visiting my brother, Baxter, in Michigan. He told me that he was reading a brochure from The Former Students Association and they were inquiring about the whereabouts of Francis Feltner. I was living in Masachuettes. I decided to take a week off and visit the school and I was really glad that I did. As I drove into Clay County, I turned on the radio to KMBI's station and I heard Mrs. Short reading the morning scripture; just like it was forty years ago. The first person that I saw was Seldon and he was in charge of the radio station. I met his wonderful wife,  Janet. What a sweetheart! We  talked over old times and we agreed to meet for dinner at the Family Restaurant in Jackson. I had reserved a room at the motel prior to my going to see them.

On my way to Mt. Carmel I drove over a new bridge where the old swinging bridge had been when I was there. A bridge that I had carried many loads of vegetables from the farm that Mr. and Mrs. Forrester managed. When there was a major flood, I had to wade through water from the road that went to Vancleve and watched debris floating by near to the top of the bridge. Gone was the old cable that Mr. Swauger built for a trolly cart that hauled the heavier loads. This new paved road went by Mt. Carmel and up throgh the hollow that used to be nothing more than wagon road. Mail could now be delivered where once it was packed by mule over the mountains. All of this was now just memories, but what fond memories they are. Modern day technology is so proud of itself for the invention of the computer and the wonders that it can do. Man has had one on his shoulders since the day that God created him. One that can see, hear, smell, talk, taste, and will remember everything that he has done with no delete key. It is called a brain and it hold unlimited memories.

I drove by Mt. Carmel before I realized it. Upon entering the campus, my first impression was that it looked a lot smaller than when I was there; but when you are older, everything looks smaller than when you were a child. Eldon Neihof and Robert Cundiff met me at the door of the administration building. After talking over old times, they showed me around the campus and the apartment where Miss Reed and Miss Swartwout lived. I still had some time left, so I drove to see my dear friend, Daniel Bryant. He  was really amazed to see me, but it didn't take long to talk about all the  After dinner with Seldon and Janet I went to visit with my former teachers. I was really thrilled to have been able to visit with them way past their bedtime. Of course, I had to eat some pie and ice cream. They were the same warm wonderful two as they were when they taught me more than just books. Mrs. Short had invited me for one of her spectacular breakfasts at their home the next morning. Needless to say, I ate too much of her sausage gravy, eggs, and biscuits. I hated to leave, but I had to get back home.

My Brother Marcus, who lived in Pontiac, Mi. came to visit me the First of August in 1900. We both wanted to visit our mother's grave on top of Scuddy Mountain. The former Students Association was having a 50th Class Renunion of my class. I thought why not combine the two. After visiting our mother's grave we stopped at Mt. Carmel to meet and talk with some of my former schoolmates. I helped out at the auction for a few minutes. Junior Mullins, was there and he was happy to see Marcus and me. Because it was a long drive to Pontiac, we had to leave after an hour I would like to come again sometime because it was my home for five years and the foundation of my life.

Miss McConnell was the author of several books depicting her work in the Kentucky Mountains. I was pictured in two of them. One was our graduating class of 1950. She was honored by Asbury College with a Doctorate of Divinity.

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