Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Willful Child--by my friend, Janet Steele Holloway, another coal miner's daughter

Such a good read, interesting, entertaining, and rich with information about our diverse, overlapping Appalachian Coalfield cultures.

More information on A Willful Child at

Recently, at a Carnegie Center writer’s conference in Lexington, Kentucky, I ran into Janet Steele Holloway, whom I hadn’t seen in  6 years. I was happy to learn that she had published A Willful Child, a memoir of her life in the coal camps and towns of Southern West Virginia. My own East Kentucky coalfields were only a few miles away, across the Tug River. Our Company, Princess Elkhorn Coal also owned mines in Mallory, WV and some of our PECCO men had also worked there. I visited Mallory once to visit Vivian Spencer, whose father, Frank Music, transferred there for PECCO. Our neighbors, Marguerite and Bert Price came from Mallory to David.

A Willful Child

Janet Steele Holloway's debut is as dazzling as the West Virginia countryside she describes. Her father a hardworking coalminer, her granny an unrepentant bootlegger, Holloway remembers a childhood grasping at the shards of a shattering family. She emerges as a young woman ready for anything. This memoir is poignant, brutal, funny, inspired.
Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss
Painful, warm and wise, Janet Steele Holloway's debut memoir, A Willful Child, vividly portrays a remarkable yet ordinary family whose life is more typical of post-war America than we'd like to think. At the mercy of an unstable, beautiful mother and a coal miner father in the boom-and-bust mountain economy, Holloway's childhood is spent on the move from coal camp, to her granny's beer garden, to a farm in southwest Virginia, to both coasts of Florida, and back to the mountains. Billie Brown, her pragmatic bootlegging granny, supplies rootedness, but cannot assuage her own daughter's restless discontent or shore up the headstrong streak that will become her granddaughter's greatest strength. A Willful Child shows us how a girl-becoming-a-woman gathers courage, confidence, and wisdom to weave a self from the pieces and places of a fragmented life.
Leatha Kendrick, author of Second Opinion
This gripping story speaks for many Appalachian women and children who broke away from mountain culture to live a life of promise and success and never forgot their mountain heritage. Janet Holloway tells an engaging story of a bright child caught in the ruins of her parents' marriage and her determination to create a productive, creative life for herself.
Jane Stephenson, founder of New Opportunity School for Women;
Author, Courageous Paths: Stories of Nine Appalachian Women

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Washin'

Looking back, as a young girl living in the coal camp of David, Kentucky through the 1940s and '50s, some of my strongest memories are of watching Mother do the washin'.  I helped her with little things like bringing her the clothespin bag or helping her carry a tub of wet clothes out to the line--several feet up the steep hillside that was our back yard. Sometimes I would move the clothesline prop--usually a strong tree branch that forked in a few places that allowed us to prop the line up high, or down low. I don’t remember ever doing the washing myself-- until I was married and had my very own Maytag wringer washer. I remember Mother letting me run some things through the wringer. It was really dangerous. She usually asked one of us children to plug the washer in, since she was afraid of electricity, too--although her childhood home up Stonecoal had been “wired” in the 1920s by her brother Rob Hicks who wanted to make life better for Granny and Pap.

We kept our Maytag wringer washer, on the back porch. Underneath the wringers was a wooden stool that held the tub of rinse water. There was one other tub to carry wet clothes out to the line. It was heavy. There were no plastic baskets back then. How did we get the water into the washer? We had a  laundry stove in the kitchen--a small black iron coal stove that heated water. Did Mother build a fire to heat the water then carry out buckets full? Did we heat the water in summer? The house would have been so hot! Did we have a hose that ran from the kitchen sink to the washer?

After my marriage in 1962, I used a wringer washer for several years.  We bought an automatic washer and an electric dryer in 1969. Why can’t I remember the details of doing the washing in a wringer washer? I seem to remember making big water messes in my kitchen, though .

I know that the best, cleanest clothes were washed first and that Daddy’s work clothes--coal mining clothes--were washed last. Once the black coal dust turned the water a scummy, dark gray, that was the end of the washin’ for that day. We dropped the drain line off the porch and let that water run into the back yard!

When did we do the clothes that needed bleach? You couldn’t start with bleach water. Did we do a separate load for those white things we bleached? If we’d used bleach, could we put the mining clothes into that same water? I don’t think so. I know we got the most out of every tub of water and didn’t empty the washer until we had to.

I also watched in awe as my wonderful mother-in-law did the washin’ every week, when I lived with her the first few months of my marriage. First, she built a fire in the middle of a circle of cinder blocks that she kept in the upper left corner of the front yard. She tended the fire until it was hot but tame, then placed a washtub securely on the blocks. She filled the tub with water she carried from  the hand-pump nearby and scurried to get the clothes, towels, and sheets sorted on the porch while the water heated, knowing it. wouldn't take long. Before long, with a lighter bucket, she carried hot water to the wringer washer on the porch.  The rinse tub had already been filled with cold water from the pump. Sometimes, I'd help with that job, but she didn't trust someone as young and inexperienced as I to do the more complex, important jobs. Usually, I did the inside work, while she worked outside. We had made that deal and it worked for me, even if I did have to learn how to keep fireplaces burning or banked, water carried to the kitchen, but nothing as hard as her outside work.

Another thing I’m wondering about—we said “do the washin”, not “do the laundry”. I wonder what other families said—and say.  Now I say, “do the laundry”, but my heart wants to say, “do the washin’”. What feels good to you? How did you and your mother sort all the clothes? What was your process. What got washed first? What last?

There seemed to be a protocol for proper washin’ in the coal camp Some of those homemakers had it down to an art form—washing on a certain day, hanging the clothes in a logical uniform way—you know—socks with socks, towels with towels, panties with panties. I was never taught this. Whatever was on top of the tub was hung on the clothesline first, out, no matter what it was.

Who taught you to hang out clothes? How to take them in  so they were in some kind of order for seasoning out, folding, preparing for ironing? I’m thinking women may have actually studied their neighbor’s clotheslines to make sure they were in line with the best homemaking practices. The washin’ was an important part of our culture. There seemed to be a set wash day and a set ironing day?  My mother was unpredictable and we never knew what would get ironed and what would never be ironed.  I remember sprinkling clothes with water and rolling them up—sometimes putting them in the refrigerator to cool. But, I don’t remember a system for getting them ironed. I think we ironed them as we needed them, and if you were the one needing something, you were the one that ironed it.

I admired the Howard family and the girls ironing on the porch all day Tuesdays. After Mother got Daddy’s clothes clean, we had to fend for ourselves. Maybe Toby and Peggy ironed for us younger ones. I hired out to Ila Willis when I was 12 years old and had to iron her husband’s white shirts and look after her 4-5 children. That was certainly educational. In return, though, she made me a beautiful white pique Eighth Grade Graduation dress. I never liked the dress, though, since I had to work so hard for it. What did I know? I was twelve.

 Please tell me some stories about doing the washing. I won’t even try to talk about bluing and starching!

While she washed the clothes, Mother told stories and I listened. I loved her stories of life, love, marriage, and heartache. I remember so many of her one-liners.

If they hurt you when you're young, Judy, you never forget it. 

It's OK to kiss a boy, Judy, but you don't need to kiss every boy".

Tell it on yourself, Judy, then no one can talk about you.

There's nothing worse than a gossip. There's nothing that hasn't happened in our own family. 

I love every one of my children the same. Rodney's never hurt my feelings, not even once, but I still love all of you the same.

Be a lady, but be a woman.

Having a lot of children doesn't mean you don't miss the one that's gone. 
If you’ve got it, you’ve got it and being fat don’t make any difference.

If I heard of any Bussey child showing fear of John L. Capelli, I’d whip them good. That would break Mary’s heart.

I don’t try to tell Toby what to do. She’s smart and stubborn and has a mind of her own. She’ll do just fine.

Mother's cigarette was ever present, dangling from her pretty lips, Betty Davis style or resting on a window sill burning a brown outline into the wood. Every single window in our house had burned cigarette marks. But we were doing the washing weren’t we?

I'm dreaming of my beautiful mother, Nova.....

Brownie Scout and Girl Scout Memories:1948-1959

We had both Brownie and Girl Scout troops in David. The boys had the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. We all learned the handshakes, the salutes, the mottoes, and the pledges.  (Brother Rodney, and other Boy Scouts, boys served as Air Rangers during and after WWII--they were to report all planes passing over the hills around David.

It seems the Brownie pledge was, "I promise to do my best to love God and my country, to help other people at all times, especially those at home".

If memory serves, the Girl Scout pledge was, "On my honor I will try to do my duty to God and my Country, to serve other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout laws". 
The Boy Scout motto was, "Be Prepared". For the life of me, I cannot remember our Girl Scout and Brownie mottoes.

The Company promoted the Scout activities and women and men, and sometimes college students from the community served as leaders. Princess Elkhorn Coal Company built two authentic log cabins with wrap around porches for our meetings and activities. The Girl Scout cabin was on the hill at the head of School House Holler. The Boy Scout Cabin was higher on the hill at the head of Official "Fisher" Holler. We called it Fisher and didn't know the Company had reserved this space for company workers, not Union Miners. Up in Fisher Holler, big beautiful houses looked down on our row of company houses. The better homes were reserved for engineers and superintendents.

In the summer we had day camp for 2-3 weeks and would go every day to the Girl Scout Cabin for  interesting activities and projects. We made pot holders and tea towels. We wove baskets from reeds soaked in water until they reached a pliable state. We spatter painted leaves--somehow by placing the leaf on a paper then holding a piece of screen over it and using a brush to spatter paint through the screen and onto the paper where it left a perfect outline of the leaf.  We had to be able to identify our native trees by their leaves and their bark. We went to the swimming pool for real lessons. though  most of us could already swim, thanks to the beautiful pool our coal miner fathers built. The things we could make with Popsicle sticks and cup cake papers was endless!

We learned folk dances from America and other countries. Anyone remember, "Heel and toe, heel and toe, slide and slide and slide and slide"? I remember the tune but these are the only words I remember.

We sang, "Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, mighty, mighty king of the Bushes he. Laugh, Kookaburra laugh, Kookaburra  _____ ____ _____ for me".

And, "Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set. Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set. Ah dor a O!  A dor a Boonda O! Ossie Possie ret set set, Ossie Possie O! Boonda, boonda, boonda".

We made buddy burners by rolling strips of cardboard tightly into Vienna Sausage cans, then covering the cardboard with melted paraffin wax. For the stove, we used a 5-10 lb. lard bucket turned upside down, with a little door cut out so we could place the buddy burner inside. Light the Buddy Burner with a match and we could fry eggs or anything on the griddle created by the bottom of the bucket. Magic!

We made sit-upons by cutting squares of oil cloth which we joined together with the "quilting stitch"  leaving one side open , then filling the squares with old. newspapers and stitching the final side of the water-proof pad we would sit upon for outside activities. We sat on them at wiener roasts and cook outs. We cut green slender tree branches for sticking our wieners and marshmallows on to roast. A favorite food was a pork chop, a piece of chicken, or a hamburger patty topped with carrots and onions, wrapped in foil and placed under the hot coals of our fire. We played games and sang while waiting for our meal to cook. Of course, we learned to build a fire--tender, then kindling, then wood. I still have a small scar on my right thumb from when I was 10 years old and my axe slipped. Today, I bet they wouldn't allow a ten year old to cut wood. Anyone know?

We had a "permanent" Girl Scout camp, Camp Chatterawah on Dewey Lake (now Jenny Wiley State Park). I  was able to go two  summers--it seemed expensive, but was probably only $25-$50. I was 13 and in high school when I first went. I was amazed when they served white sliced bread  and butter with a meal. Butter on cold bread?? At home, we always had hot cornbread or biscuits. "Light bread" was for sandwiches.  But I loved it, still do Another food first was having rice for lunch or dinner (supper to me) with butter, salt and pepper. Before, I had only eaten it as a hot breakfast cereal with sugar and milk. .

At Camp Chatterawah, I learned nautical lashing and we built  railings up the hill to our tents by lashing branches together--the hill was steep and we could pull ourselves up with the "bannisters" we built.  I can still tie a few knots. We stargazed and learned the constellations while lying on our homemade bedrolls, I never had a sleeping bag. Did any of us?

Of course, we had to follow military rules for raising, lowering,  and folding the American Flag. A bugler blew Reveille at daybreak and Taps at sunset when we lowered the flag. I wish I could paint the awesome natural beauty around us. We were surrounded by hills as we stood at attention beside the lake--sunset, blue sky, shimmery lake--indescribable. We circled the flagpole and  sang to the tune of Taps,

"Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hill, from the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh". Then our final salute, "Good night, Scouts".

I earned my canoeing and life saving badges during camp on the lake--although I never owned a GS uniform to properly display them. They brought in some tough football players, on summer break from college, to play our victims. My "victim" was a David boy, Wayne Dixon, a former Prestonsburg Black Cat who became a big football star at Morehead or UK, I've forgotten which. Big Wayne fought but I landed him on the pier all by myself. I think he must have helped me a little though. Thanks Wayne,for sure: RIP. 

I could go on for pages, but will stop. Maybe you can fill in some of my blanks. I'll close with one of the campfire songs we loved as we got older. This one was a hit with us--pre-women's liberation, of course 

"You made me what I am today. I hope you're satisfied.
You dragged and you dragged me down until the soul within me cried.
You shattered each and every dream. You fooled me from the start.
And, though you're not true, may God bless you.
That's the curse of an aching heart".

Good Night Scouts!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December Memories

Dear Reader,
It's 2016. I'm reviewing a blog post from December 2010. Christmas draws the Bussey children together in special ways of the heart--even as we age and can't see each other at Christmas anymore, our hearts and memories are always in unison during this cold December holiday. Cold was different in those days in that place, wasn't it?

December 12, 2010
I'm thinking of winter in David,Kentucky, my Appalachian Coal Camp home. By now we would have exchanged names for gifts at school with a price limit of 50 cents. Mother always tried to buy something fun for us to give--like a wind-up toy or a good rubber ball, for example. She complained if we got a box of chocolate covered cherries.

The Company Store would have filled the upstairs area with all kinds of Christmas toys. Virgil Warrix, Ruth Burchett, Grace Moore,Clayton Wills, not to mention the store staff, the PECCO office staff, and first Claude Allen then Lily Price, our post-masters (we weren't pc back then), and George, the butcher probably purely dreaded time of year. The oiled hardwood steps went straight up beside the butcher shop so George would have heard every step and all our excited shouts.

Remember all those little wind up toys that scooted all over the place until they wound down. Erector sets. Guns, bows and arrows, cowboy and cowgirl suits, and those beautiful dolls I loved so much. All we could do was dream about what we might get!

Miners' wives could shop there and "charge it". The charge would be taken out of the miner's next check. Daddy hated this because sometimes, more often than not, he'd "go in the hole". His check would be Zero. We dreaded payday because we also charged Bobby Pins, Kotex, Lucky Star filler paper (everyone saved Lucky Stars), writing tablets, pop, and sometimes, lunch at the fountain. Mother was a little too lenient and we took advantage when we could. She didn't worry until payday, when Daddy would discover how far 'in the hole" he'd gone. Then the dreaded fight. The Fountain __Ethel Wills, Ora Bussey, Dot Crauswell, Carolyn Howard, Pattie Clark (Mollette), and others who worked there over the years--made the best chili and hot dogs ever. Later in life, I've decided that the great flavor was also enhanced by wrapping the hot-dogs in waxed paper --such a specia taste. .

Of course other days, we walked home to a lunch of cheese sandwiches, fried bologna sandwiches,canned pork and beans, or wieners sliced in half and fried brown in a skillet of bacon grease. Delicious on bread with a little mustard or mayonnaise. We loved the fountain, though, and the few times a month we dared go in and say "charge it".

Once a girlfriend, took a whole gang of us in and charged our lunches to her Daddy. She was a little rebel and this was a daresome thing to do!

We wrote lists for Santa and sent them up the stove pipes of our Warm Morning coal heater.I asked for stuff like diamond rings, gowns, watches, and whatever doll was the big name that year. One year it was bride dolls. I never got these requests, but Mother always managed to get us something. Once we were past the age of "believing' we didn't get special gifts. Maybe one little thing was wrapped for us. It was a great milestone in high school to have a boyfriend at Christmastime, knowing they would have to buy you a gift. I bet some of them had hard times buying those gifts. Mother was generous with Daddy's money and if our 25 cents per hour babysitting money wouldn't cover it, she'd help us buy presents for our boyfriends-if we had one!

We could always count on our socks hanging on the wall to be filled with oranges, apples, walnuts, saw-log peppermint candy, horehound candy for Daddy.The nuts weren't hulled, of course and we could never find a hammer, so we got heavy rocks from outside and cracked the nuts right on the living room floor. There were nut hulls and orange peels everywhere. We enjoyed the Christmas goodies. Mother even let us skate in the house, anything to keep us occupied.

My older brother, Rodney, had his Christmas fun cut short when, as a mere 9 year old, he started playing Santa for us three younger ones. Not fair, but he has fond memories of doing so much for us. I think Mother asked him to help because he was so kind and sensitive and she knew he'd understand. Reminds me of a poem mother wrote about her getting a doll with torn lace because, as her father told her, "Santa knew you'd understand, honey". So many life's lessons we learned through all these things.

Daddy made sure we got a real coconut to share. He poked a hole in it so we could drink the "monkey pee" inside. He would laugh and laugh after we drank it and he told us what it was.

Always, just when Mother couldn't handle one more thing, Daddy would come through the door with a big "Boo" and proudly deliver her a freshly severed hogs head--a gift from one of our Middle Creek farm families. Don't ask me how she learned to make "souse meat", but she did it. I've since learned that "sousing" is an old English tradition and considered a true delicacy. I don't remember any of us helping her with this Christmas project for Daddy. The older ones usually have different memories. Another Christmas delicacy she made, just for Daddy, was oyster stew. We had never tasted oysters and none of us would try the dish.Daddy loved it, though, and she made it only at Christmas.

Mother always decorated the porch for Christmas. She'd go into the hills in Mid-December and cut pine branches to nail all around the front door and the front porch banister. She worked really hard at this and we had to help her. One year blue lights were all the rage and Mother got some--probably "charged" them.We loved those blue lights, too. There was no electrical outlet on the porch, so Mother ran the cord through the living room window. She never won the annual prize, but we voted for her anyway.

She put pine branches around the living room bookshelf--a luxury item built by Ashland Shepherd, the Company carpenter into some of the houses. We were proud of that amenity. Our time-payment World Book encyclopedias were displayed prominently.Over the years, We read every word in them, cut out pictures for school reports and Mother never seemed to mind that we wore them out. She thought it helped us learn.

One year Mother & Mrs Wilson (Leona--we always used the proper Mr. and Mrs.) learned to make candles by whipping heated paraffin wax and mixing in gold or silver glitter. They made all shapes and sizes by molding them into cups, glasses, tin cans, milk cartons, and anything else they could find. I bet Mrs. Wilson kept her house pretty neat but Mother kept the house messed up and discovered she really enjoyed creating things. She would place these beautiful, glittery candles throughout the pine decor and we were always wondering what she would do next. Aerosol spray was invented in the mid 40s, I think, and when gold and silver spray paint hit the company store in the early 50s,wow, did they have a great time. Christmas took on a whole new shine! They even picked "weeds" up in the hills, sprayed them beautiful colors, created arrangements and sold some to a florist in Prestonsburg. Big Time!,

Nights were cold in December. Ice would freeze on the inside of the windows. There were no storm windows in those days. We had heavy quilts to keep us warm and usually a sibling or two helping warm up the bed--remember when someone would take a little of your "warm spot" and you had to lie on pure cold for a while. Mother hung quilts over the doors between the living room and the kitchen to divert most of the heat in the direction of the bedrooms. There was no heat in any of the rooms except the living room. There sat the Warm Morning coal stove taking up an entire corner, but leaving enough room so that we could sit--all six of us, I guess--up against the wall behind it. That corner was warmer than anywhere in the house and we liked to put on our socks and shoes there. Sometimes Mother handed us a plate of cornbread and gravy to eat back there, sometimes a biscuit.

Mother would arise about 3AM and sneak out of bed. (Daddy would be upset if he woke up and found her gone, so this was a big deal). She'd stoke up the fire, take down the quilt barrier and stoke up the laundry stove in the kitchen. The laundry stove heated our water and she managed to get it a little warm before we got up. She'd make Daddy's lunch for his bucket and brew their coffee by pouring boiling water into the wonderful old drip-o-later (I still use one) and find some quiet time-her favorite time of the day-for her writing and a cigarette or two before waking us up.To this day, I don't think Daddy knew Mother was a writer and an artist--he just knew she was eccentric and broke all the norms.

In grade school, we walked to school with headscarves on and our bangs would freeze. I'd love to see a picture of us in those headscarves...looking like the rural women of Bosnia and the Ukraine--not like the look Jackie Kennedy made famous. Can you believe we wore headscarves?

In high school, the bus ran at 7 AM--always before daylight. We got to Prestonsburg about 7:30-7:45 and waited at the Black Cat drive in for classes to start around 8:30. Those mornings are memorable. The boys with money played the jukebox. We had a quarter for lunch at the cafeteria but if we spent a dime on a coke, we only had 15 cents left and couldn't afford to eat. Tough decisions. Bruce Howard, my future brother-in-law, always had extra money and sometimes played the jukebox for us or bought me a coke occasionally. When brother Rod had money to spare, he made sure I had some too. I was so proud of Bruce & Rodney--both Black Cat varsity athletes and fine boys..

The David Middle Creekers were always the first to arrive at PHS and the last to leave--rarely getting home before 5 Pm, when it was already dark in the winter. The bus would pull in at the Company Store and we were always glad if it was still open so we could run in and buy our necessities. I know Grace Moore and Ruth Burchett dreaded us. There was no privacy for us when shopping because we had to go up to the clerk behind the counter and ask for everything.

Once I had to ask for a box of Kotex and was so embarrassed I told Ruth, "They're not for me, they're for Toby". Rod said he felt the same way once when Mother told him to ask Ruth if they had anymore "chalkies". I won't elaborate but home some of you may remember what a "chalkie" was.

So, December is reminding me of cold days, cold house, icicles hanging on the front porch, snow cream, sleigh rides down Boy Scout Cabin cabin hill, socks for gloves, childhood fun, hard work, Mother's creativity, who will receive gifts, who won't have any, the company store, and "going in the hole". Through it all we learned there were people less fortunate than we and that Christmas was for giving to others. Somehow we managed that too.

Thanks for letting me share these December thoughts.
All that's left is life,

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cuddle Doon

"The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi' muckle fash an' din,
"Oh, try and sleep, ye waukrife rogues,
Your faither's comin'in."

My mother, Nova Hicks Bussey, had a great talent for reciting poetry from memory. She was expressive in the classical sense and made each poem come alive. After each recitation, she held us, me for sure, spellbound with stories of how the poem applied to life. We learned of the grief suffered by The Village Blacksmith--a very strong, feeling man. And, the aging man recalling the regret of the little girl who surpassed him in a spelling bee--Mother found many good lessons in School Days--after all, how often is it that someone unselfishly wants you to succeed, even at their own loss?

Little Nell taught us that mothers love all their children the same, whether they are lazy, industrious, helpful,or sullen. At the end of this poem, Mother would ask,

"Now, which child did the mother love best?"
We'd shout, "Little Nell!"
"No" mother would reassure us, "She loved them all the same".

What a relief to me, an obstinate child who yearned to be loved the same as the others.

Back to Cuddle Doon. How did Mother learn to recite it in the proper dialect? Over my life, I've often bragged how Mother could recite Cuddle Doon in the Gaelic or Scottish. I've asked many people if they know this poem. No one I talked to ever had.

They never heed a word I speak.
I try to gie a froon.
But aye I hap them up, an' cry,
"Oh, bairnies cuddle doon!"

The mother has her hands full with Jamie, Rab, and Tam as, at the end of a long day, she coaxes them to go to sleep before their father comes in from work. Mother wanted us to understand how it was with herself and her 6 children. I never asked Mother how she learned this poem. Most of her selections were from her youth when memorizing poems was a standard educational tool.

We studied poetry and memorized too, but none of my teachers ever mentioned Cuddle Doon. Teachers had their own biases of course. For example, a high school English teacher--in the 50s of course--wouldn't let me recite Anabelle Lee because Poe was an alcoholic.

I have wondered if the verses were handed down from her ancestors who came into Virginia from Ireland, Scotland, and England in the late 1700s. They traveled into the isolated, beautiful hills of Appalachian East Kentucky where they chose to settle, drawn to the lush, green mountains that reminded them of home and to the seclusion of the hollows and creeks that promised they could remain independent in their new homeland.

Just a reflection: In Thomas Hardy novels, characters often use words and phrases that I find familiar and similar to those found in Appalachian East Kentucky. I have determined that "hain't" and "ain't", drilled out of us as children,mean two different things and make logical sense when used in Hardy's native contexts. Of course, we, in order to be perceived as literate, learned modern day English.

Why did I not ever ask Mother where she learned Cuddle Doon?

Recently I landed quite a treasure trove of books from brother Rod and his wife, Helen. I was overjoyed! At home, I gathered all the books around me and began browsing--so many treasures. There was one of my favorite books,The Haj, >in hardback!I'll reread it soon to help me further understand the Middle East. There were 3 hardback dictionaries which I have already begun to peruse. And, One Hundred and One Famous Poems, published in 1958! I was excited to find many favorites like Renascence, by Edna St. Vincent Millay; Grass by Carl Sandburg; Paul Revere's Ride and Hiawatha's Childhood by Longfellow--

and, suddenly, there it was, on page 90--Cuddle Doon by Alexander Anderson (1845-1909. With further research I found that Cuddle Doon was a familiar poem to the children of Scotland in the generations preceding me--my mother's generation. Enough said! I'd love to hear from anyone who may have had this poem recited to them.

Cuddle Doon

by Alexander Anderson

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi muckle faught and din.
"Oh try an' sleep, ye waukrife rogues,
Your faither's comin' in."
They niver heed a word I speak,
I try tae gie a froon,
But aye I hap' them up an' cry
"Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!"

Wee Jamie wi' the curly heid,
He aye sleeps next the wa'
Bangs up and cries, "I want a piece!"
The rascal starts them a'.
I rin and fetch them pieces, drinks,
They stop a wee the soun',
Then draw the blankets up an' cry,
"Noo, weanies, cuddle doon."

But ere five minutes gang, wee Rab
Cries oot frae neath the claes,
"Mither, mak' Tam gie ower at aince,
He's kittlin' wi' his taes."
The mischief in that Tam for tricks,
He'd bother half the toon,
But aye I hap them up an' cry,
"Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!"

At length they hear their faither's fit
An' as he steeks the door,
They turn their faces tae the wa'
An Tam pretends tae snore.
"Hae a' the weans been gude?" he asks,
As he pits aff his shoon.
"The bairnies, John, are in their beds
An' lang since cuddled doon!"

An' just afore we bed oorsel's
We look at oor wee lambs,
Tam has his airm roun' wee Rab's neck
An Rab his airm roun' Tam's.
I lift wee Jamie up the bed
An' as I straik each croon,
I whisper till my heart fills up:
"Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!"

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi' mirth that's dear tae me.
But soon the big warl's cark an' care
Will quaten doon their glee.
Yet come what will to ilka ane,
May He who rules aboon,
Aye whisper, though their pows be bald:
"Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon!"

If you're still reading this post and know some of the Scottish or Gaelic dialect, maybe you can shed light o the quote below which was written into the memoirs of my grandfather, whose grandmother was from Ireland. (since she was Sally McKinney, I tend to think there's also Scottish heritage there)

Our wheat was ground into flour at home by the hand-mill or by horse power, then baked in “pones.” They called it biscuit bread. I remember Mother would say to us children, “Watch children, there might be a beard in that bread; there is a hole in the sarch". Does anyone know what this means? It's either an old dialect or a typo!

Love and Peace to all who read this!
Judy Bussey, July 17, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Making Fudge, now--and Then

==of Memories...No Recipe Needed
January 28, 2011 at 2:24pm

...poured some sugar into a pan, added about 1/2 as much milk & brought it to a boil. When a drop of the hot syrupy stuff felt just right in cold water, I took it off the heat and added a big spoon of peanut butter, stirred in a little butter at just the right time & turned it out onto a buttered plate. It started to harden before it cooled. I hope it doesn't *turn to sugar*. Sandy and I scraped the pan---my mind flooded with childhood memories.

If we have some milk, we can make some candy, if we have some sugar.

Making fudge was a standard evening treat all year long in our coal camp home. We didn't have a recipe, but knew the proportions of the ingredients--how much sugar we had determined how much milk we needed. Whether we had enough milk left for Daddy's thermos of coffee for the mines was a huge deciding factor.More than once Mother made one of us get up at 4:30 AM to go to Mary Capellis and borrow milk. It was a mortifying experience to be the chosen child. Mother was furious and we knew just to shut up and go get some milk.

There were 8 of us at home most of my life and at times 10, when 2 beloved grandchildren stayed for a few years. How wonderful when we made fudge! As a child got older, he or she could help make the fudge. Mother wasn't exactly good at following the rules of cooking, but we knew it would always taste good. Sometimes we held the pan in a sink of cold water and stirred and stirred and stirred, hoping it would get hard. Sometimes Mother just told us to spread it on crackers. Sometimes it would get hard as a rock. We loved scraping the pan--as I always let my children do too. We always ate every drop, no matter what. Some of my finer memories are with my sisters and brothers up David, *wondering if the fudge will get hard*.

Today, my fudge was hardening just right so we could cut a bite or two while it was still warm and it's delicious. I'm wishing Tommy were here to enjoy it. So many good memories around food. That's just the way we are and I know you are too.

Now, I'll go back downstairs for another bite....hope it hasn't *turned to sugar*

Another winter's day made better ...

Stay safe and Warm,



The Cat Hole

Recently, on Facebook, Descendants of David were motivated by a photograph of the Company Store to reminisce. I remembered playing in the "Cat Hole" where all the store paper waste was trashed. It was a room with a door located on the back delivery porch of the store where they discarded paper trash. The door was never locked and we often went there after 5PM, when the store closed.Papers were waist high and, on a good day, we'd find charge pads with good paper and carbon still attached. Gold!

We played "office","store" and other games that let us use that precious carbon paper.So lucky was the child that got to be the clerk or the secretary because they got to do the writing. We would find would letters and memos with blank backs so perfect for an endless supply of writing paper. We had to buy notebook paper and couldn't use it for play. This memory is circa 1949-1956.

Did you ever play like this?